WE were gutted to see our run of good form come to an end against Rotherham. While our 1-0 reverse has to go down as another disappointing home defeat, on this occasion I really don't think we did too much wrong.
Granted, we didn't play quite as much football as we might have liked – the conditions saw to that – but there was no shortage of effort or commitment. Moreover, while Steve Evans' team definitely had the edge in terms of time-wasting and gamesmanship, I thought there was precious little between the two sides otherwise and on another day the result could easily have gone our way.
The heavy surface was far from ideal for someone as fleet of foot as Alan Gow but, be that as it may, he went mightily close to giving us an early lead with one of those moments of magic he conjures up with a regularity Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee could only dream of.
Unfortunately, Rotherham's veteran keeper Andy Warrington defied his 50 shades of grey to caress the ball over the bar.
I can't help feeling that if we'd got our noses in front at that stage we'd probably have gone on to take all three points. However, it wasn't to be and the visitors edged ahead when centre-half Ian Sharps was allowed far too much time and space to nod home from a corner just before half-time.
Jimmy Keohane, who came on as substitute for the injured Tommy Doherty, was unlucky to find himself replaced by John O'Flynn late on in the game. A substitute never enjoys being substituted but I'm sure the decision had precious little to do with Jimmy's performance and much more to do with Tis' readiness to think outside the box and try a different tactic to get something from the game.
Paul thinks differently from other managers – he doesn't just have a plan A and B, he has a plan C, D and E as well. Of course, as was the case on Saturday, it doesn't always come off but he's always willing to give it a go.
As for Jimmy, he's improving fast and, I think it's fair to say, is now pushing hard for a starting place having spent most of last season on the periphery of the first-team squad. It's easy to forget that he's only 21 and, having only made a handful of starts, as long as he keeps his head down and works hard is only going to get better.
I should also mention Jordan Moore-Taylor who, at 18, is even younger than Jimmy and was making just his second first-team start but didn't look at all out of place filling in for the suspended Craig Woodman. Jordan's solid and strong and another fine advertisement for the club's investment in youth.
I couldn't talk about the Rotherham game without commending the ground staff who pulled out all the stops to ensure the St James's Park pitch was one of the few areas of Exeter and East Devon not under several inches of water come 3pm on Saturday afternoon. Clive Pring and his team do an excellent job at the Park and at the Cat & Fiddle and it's only a shame we weren't able to reward their efforts with three points.
It's always nice to go into a break on the back of a win but, at the same time, we're in much better shape than we were a month or so ago and I see plenty of grounds for optimism. We're only a point off a play-off place, and just five off an automatic promotion spot, and that's not a bad position to be in with a bit more than half the season to go. All the more so, when you consider that in the past Tis' teams have almost always got better the longer the season has gone on – let's hope that's a tendency which is repeated this season.
Having gone out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle we don't have a game this weekend. Disappointing as that is, I'm looking forward to a rare opportunity to spend a Saturday with my wife and daughter. At the same time, you can rest assured there will be no let-up in our work at the training ground and we'll be doing everything in our power to hit the ground running when we return to action at Rochdale a week on Saturday.
Three points at Spotland would set us up nicely for the following Saturday's home game against you know who!
I understand tickets are selling fast for the visit of our fiercest rivals – indeed, if you haven't got yours yet then I'd suggest you do so at the earliest opportunity or run the risk of missing out – and it promises to be quite an occasion.
In the meantime, enjoy your weekend off from following the Grecians and should you take the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping I only hope it's rather less stressful than your average Saturday afternoon at the Park!