P rior to Exeter City’s clash with 20th placed Morecambe, there was clear cause for concern for both sides. Just four days before, in front of a bumper crowd of 4,700 including over 400 Grecian Society members, City fell to a ruthless Notts County side 0-3. The glaring omission of talisman Jordan Moore-Taylor at the heart of Exeter’s defence appeared to have cost the Grecians and after such a promising start to their league 2 campaign, two defeats on the bounce appeared to have knocked the wind out of Paul Tisdale’s side.
Morecambe travelled to St James’ Park having taken just 5 points from their last 5 games and desperately short on confidence. This showed from the outset as poor communication from the Shrimpers defence put Reid on goal who had a nasty collision with keeper Roche. A substitution later and Morecambe’s defence was in a state of disarray as replacement Danijel Nizic failed to impress with an erratic and nervy display. A nasty looking injury to youngster Jordan Tillson saw an end to his game early on as Tisdale opted for the impressive Hiram Boateng as his replacement.
After a nice spell of pressure, City broke the deadlock on the 20th minute as Troy Brown easily side-footed home a corner that Morecambe failed to deal with. Immediately after, Exeter pushed for a two-goal buffer rather than sitting back and were almost rewarded when Sweeney came inches away from doubling the Grecians advantage with a drilled effort that whistled past the post. This pressure eventually told and Stockley smashed the ball home on the 26th minute with a lovely finish over the keeper from a tight angle, after great vision from Jake Taylor.
‘cITY SHOWED GREAT CHARACTER’
City continued the half in the same fashion they started it as their dominance over possession began to wear down the Morecambe defence. Morecambe, however, began to show signs of life and managed to claw a goal back against the run of play as Pym spilled a fizzing volleyed strike which was pounced on by the impressive Vadaine Oliver who slotted past the Exeter keeper.
Despite this sucker punch on the 38th minute, City showed great character to reply before half-time, a stunning goal by Jayden Stockley saw a Gascoigne-esque touch over his opposite man before a powerful drive to the right of the hapless Nizic. City held out the half to go into the break 3-1 up and comfortably in charge of the game.
On the 48th minute, City effectively ended any Morecambe hopes with a lovely counter-attack. Stockley made inroads into a crumbling Morecambe defence and passed left to a rampaging Moxey who coolly stroked the ball under Nizic. With Morecambe unable to keep the ball for sustained periods or mount any serious attacks on Christy Pym’s goal, Exeter were content to dominate the rest of the game in front of 3,651 delighted fans, a big penalty shout on the 68th minute denied Reid a deserved goal and a 5th for Exeter but was one of very few aggrieving moments of the half for City fans. An impressive cameo for Edwards was a particular highlight as the West Brom loanee was lively and showed off his pace to great aplomb.
On the other end of the pitch, Christy Pym had a rush of blood on the 81st minute, unnecessarily rushing out of goal to halt an innocuous Morecambe attack. Pym flattened the Morecambe striker and received a yellow card for his troubles, capping a slightly disappointing day for the youngster. Matt Jay replaced a tired Reuben Reid on the 86th who would probably be disappointed not to have had many chances yet impressed with some great hold-up play. Exeter played out the remainder in front of a buoyant Big Bank as the full-time whistle brought an end to Morecombe’s misery. 4-1 the final score, Stockley the star of the show and City back to winning ways after a brief blip in their push for promotion.
GK – Pym 4
RB – Sweeney 7
CB – Brown 7
CB – Croll 6
LB – Woodman 7
RM – Taylor 8
CM – James 6
CM – Tilson N/A
LM – Moxey 7
ST – Stockley 9
ST – Reid 8
MOTM – Jayden Stockley. A lively performance from the front man, good interplay with Reid’s hold-up play. Always provided a target in the box and two cracking finishes.
One to watch – Kyle Edwards. Willing to run at players and take them on, whipped in some dangerous balls from the left. Great pace, perfect sub to attack tired full-backs.
Turning Point/Key moment – Stockley’s goal on the brink of half-time. Just as it felt Morecambe were creeping back into the game after a mostly one-sided half, Stockley created something out of nothing with a deft flick and volleyed finish to put City back in control.
Analysis – The ostensibly similar styles of Stockley and Reid up-front worked well together, with both able to hold up the ball as target men while the other played off. Morecambe’s defence struggled all afternoon with the physicality of the two big men. The injury-forced substitution that brought on Harim Boateng was a blessing in disguise as the midfielder impressed, always providing an option in the space behind the strikers. Whilst City had great joy down the flanks, with Moxey especially looking dangerous on the left, Boating filled the space in the middle of the pitch as an outlet and Exeter were able to retain possession much better in the second half. Barely troubled or tested at the back, it was a fun day for the attackers and all-round dominant display from Exeter.