Ben Pullan was at Topsham to see Exeter 1sts take their Cardiff Met opponents to the cleaners:
In a completely one-sided game, Exeter’s Football 1s made a mockery of their Cup quarter final by thrashing their Cardiff Met opponents 4-0. The away team had no answer to attacking midfielder Toby Yeates, who ruled the middle of the park and thoroughly deserved his superb brace.
Exeter’s star was well supported by the rest of the team and the score-line could have been so much worse for Cardiff, such was Exeter’s dominance.
The clues to the course of the match were there from the start. On a sunny, spring-like day at Topsham, Exeter looked to keep the ball on the floor and string passes together. This ensured that, despite a waterlogged pitch hardly conducive to this style of play, the home team dominated possession for the early part of the match.
In defence, they also looked sound, with their powerful back four of Thompson, Micklem, Bouwers and Aimson out-muscling their Cardiff counterparts. These four also bought in to Exeter’s style of play, feeding those above them with well-directed passes, rather than aimless long balls.
The work of these four – in addition to the superb service provided by the holding midfield pairing of Spaniol and skipper Wilson – ensured that Exeter’s attacking players had a lot of ball.
Often, Blenkinsop on the left or Higgins on the right would leave their opposite number for dead via a pacey break before giving a searching ball for either Yeates or Male to latch onto. It was from one of these that Yeates, who was already proving to be a constant threat to the away team, recorded Exeter’s first shot on target.
The game was quickly becoming one-way traffic, with the Cardiff box constantly under fire from well-directed crosses, but spectators on the touchline were starting to wonder whether this complete dominance would be rewarded with a goal.
Fittingly, it was the peerless Yeates who ended the drought, elegantly side-footing a superb cross from right back Thompson into the top-left-hand corner. The question now was whether Cardiff’s flood-gates would open.
Yeates – rightly full of confidence – was perhaps a little too eager to capitalize on this, attempting two somewhat ambitious first timers. Blenkinsop was also in the action, firing off an accurate shot and failing to convert a free header.
Nevertheless, Exeter got the second they deserved, via a neat flick on from Spaniol to secure a well-earned goal. Leading 2-0 and with the away side not having registered a shot on goal, Exeter went into half time with Cardiff on the racks. It was simply a question of how many the home team would score.
With this in mind, the second half was a little disappointing. For though the game was played almost entirely in Cardiff’s half – and though Exeter did add another two to their score – it could have been so much more.
This was not wholly down to Exeter’s lacklustre finishing though. In a thoroughly insipid performance from the away side, the one player to stand up was their goalkeeper. Were it not for a series of spectacular saves throughout the second half, Cardiff would have left embarrassed.
Despite this, with his box constantly under fire from Exeter’s attacking quartet, it was a case of when the home team would add to their tally. This came in the seventieth minute, once again from the boot of Yeates.
Midfielder Spaniol (who had an outstanding game himself) sent a sweeping Gerrard-esque ball onto the toes of Exeter’s No. 10, which he accepted with aplomb. This third goal was more than deserved by an Exeter side who by now were the only one on the pitch.
They got a fourth as well, via the boot of substitute Mel, and left the pitch surprised – but pleased – that a Cup quarter final could be so routine. It seems hyperbolic to say, but a perfect Exeter performance could have resulted in a score in double figures, such was the one-sided nature of the tie.
Nevertheless, the Exeter players and fans were understandably elated at a performance that sees this already league-winning side progress to the semis, where they take on Brighton.
Tom Yeates, arguably the Man of the Match for his brace of goals and control of midfield, said: “It was a good team performance; a great effort from everyone, pleased with my two goals, and now looking forward to the semis!”
And Club Captain JL told me how: “It would be great if such a top team were given the recognition they deserve at the AU Dinner. It has been a fantastic season for EUFC – these guys have already won their BUCS league.
Well JL, on the basis of today’s performance, you may have a cup to add to that trophy cabinet by the end of the season!bookmark me