Exeter City’s slow start and defensive mistakes let them down in a 2-1 defeat to Cambridge United meaning the Grecians have still not win a match at home this season.
Exeter started woefully after Cambridge capitalised on a disastrous mistake by the goalkeeper, Christy Pym. His poor clearance was charged down by Luke Berry. However, the goalkeeper also failed in a second chance to correct his mistake after a mix up with Exeter defender Luke Croll. Berry tackled the keeper about 25 yards out leaving an open goal which he rolled the ball into just 7 minutes in.
The second goal came just three minutes later. A cross into the box was brought down by the dangerous Ikpeazu and laid off to teammate Harrison Dunk. Dunk finished the chance well with a powerful shot into the bottom left hand corner. Again, Exeter’s defending was pretty poor. Cambridge were 2-0 up only 10 minutes into the match.
The clock at St James’ Park didn’t start for about five minutes and in many ways the same could be said for the home side who seemed slow and anxious. Cambridge were quite aggressive making a few heavy challenges early on but also created some good chances and took advantage of Exeter’s mistakes. The first half ended with some boos by the home fans.
The second half was slightly more positive for Exeter – getting a goal and putting pressure on the Cambridge defence with a late rally.
Joel Grant scored in the 73rd minute with a good header from a well worked Craig Woodman cross. After Exeter’s goal (making the score 2-1) the momentum and atmosphere went Exeter’s way and the crowd picked up. The goal was Exeter’s City second home league goal of the season which helps explain the club’s position near the bottom of the League Two table.
After the goal City suddenly came alive and created some good chances. A series of half chances, blocked shots and corners followed but they did not lead to a potentially vital equaliser. By the end of the match Cambridge were playing for time. The United goalkeeper was booked for time wasting in the first of four additional minutes while they also made a substitution in the final minute of extra time.
The best player in the first half was Cambridge’s big, strong and fast striker Ikpeazu who assisted the second goal and created a few good opportunities while making his presence known. Exeter’s Joel Grant came on for the second half and was the best player – scoring the goal and creating some well worked chances for City’s late rally.
Cambridge deserved their early lead and the Exeter fightback was too little too late.
The result leaves Exeter in the relegation zone, at 23rd in the League Two table, with pressure growing on long-serving manager Paul Tisdale.
After the game Paul Tisdale said:
“We have lost 2-1 and I don’t think we deserved anything from it. We started poorly and that just wasn’t good enough.
The mistake puts you a goal behind and in a very negative position and the worst thing is we had the opportunity to clear it. The ball was at our feet, with our goalkeeper, there was a block but then we had another chance to clear it and we made a complete hash of it.
It was one thing going behind but we had total control of that situation and we dealt with it very poorly. Those things happen in football, you get those sorts of things, but I think it was symptomatic of our first 10 minutes.
Call it what you will, there are so many words from different people, be it determination, passion or whatever, but we were too dull in those first 10 minutes.
It was symptomatic of how we started the game and we didn’t deserve anything in that first half – the second goal makes it even worst.
Exeter City (4-5-1): Pym; Sweeney, Croll (James, 45), Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Wheeler, Stacey, Oakley (Grant, 45), Watkins, Holmes; Simpson. Subs (not used): Olejnik, Jay, Riley-Lowe, Byrne, Ampadu
Cambridge United: Norris, Taylor, Dunne, Roberts, Legge, Mingoia, Berry, Dunk (McGurk, 53), Clark, Ikpeazu (Williamson, 70), Halliday (Long, 90). Subs (not used): Gregory, Coulson, Gosling, Pigott.