Anyone who attended Exeter City’s home game with Barnet and bleeds red and white would have felt incredibly deflated and disappointed come full-time.
The Grecians had given one of their best performances of the season in many respects, yet they paid a costly price for a poor end to the game when Barnet netted an equaliser seven minutes into second-half stoppage time.
For roughly the first 70 minutes, the Grecians had enjoyed almost complete control. They created chances at will and could easily have been five or six goals up by half-time. But, if you don’t take your chances when you are on top, it can come back to haunt you, as was the case last Saturday.
Three days later, it was a different story. The Grecians travelled to Wycombe Wanderers, perhaps frustrated by events of the previous weekend, but confident of getting a result, pointing to their away record of seven wins as reason to be cheerful. As it transpired, City had one shot on target and scored one decisive goal.
However, it looked like being a long afternoon when Jamie Cureton was sent off for kicking out at Wycombe defender Anthony Stewart. It was a moment of madness from City’s 16-goal top scorer, but I think it was borne out of frustration. Frustration that he was not chosen to start against Barnet a few days earlier, frustration at Exeter’s recent home failings and frustration that the game at Wycombe had seen him chase too many lost causes. It is still no excuse, and I am sure Cureton regrets his actions in becoming City’s first red card of the campaign.
However, his three-match ban opens the door for someone else. John O’Flynn is an almost guaranteed starter for the next few weeks and perhaps now we will see more of Jamie Reid, who has waited patiently for his chance to shine after a brief but bright cameo against Oxford United on Boxing Day.
There is also a chance for Jimmy Keohane to enjoy an extended run in the midfield following Liam Sercombe’s broken ankle, which sees him in a cast for the next six weeks.
Back to the Wycombe game, and an eighth away win seemed a distant dream following Cureton’s red card. But the Grecians showed their resilient side and played with fantastic concentration and great discipline to nullify the threat of the Chairboys.
When a winning goal finally came, you felt Exeter were the more likely to get it, so it was no great surprise. Alan Gow is capable of breaking down the most sturdy of defences, and his ball to O’Flynn was quite breathtaking.
O’Flynn’s shot was equally as good and well saved by Jordan Archer before the ball went over the line after ricocheting off Kortney Hause.
It was a great moment, but special mention to Artur Krysiak. I am not afraid to say I have been critical of the Pole in recent seasons, but he is playing the best football of his career for City right now and it is great to see.
He kept a clean-sheet at Wycombe and also saved a penalty while, in the first half, he came and took catches despite some rough treatment from one or two opposition players.
We are starting to see just why manager Paul Tisdale showed such loyalty and patience with Krysiak and, hopefully, he can continue his improvement and become the top goalkeeper we have been told he can be.