A FRUSTRATED Mark Molesley was full of praise for the resolve his teammates showed on Tuesday night as they dug in to claim a 2-0 win over high-flying Port Vale despite him being sent-off for a foul on Daniel Jones.
The former Bournemouth midfielder was dismissed by Gary Sutton with 20 minutes to go with Exeter City holding a 2-0 lead thanks to first half goals from Jamie Cureton, his 19th of the season, and Danny Coles.
And while Molesley admitted he felt the sending off was very harsh, he was delighted his red card did not cost City any points.
"I'm frustrated and angry to have got sent-off because I do feel as though I have let the lads down, because I had left them in the trenches in a big game," he said.
"I don't think anybody is really happy with me for getting sent-off to be honest but full credit to the boys, they stuck to the guns and stuck to their job and really worked hard.
"It was a tough game out there. Port Vale are not near the top of the league for no reason and it was a big open pitch. It was hard work, so it was a real good team performance."
Molesley was at the heart of the action as City took the lead in the 11th minute. He capitalised on a poor clearance from John McCombe before playing the ball onto Matt Oakley, who exchanged passes with Arron Davies, and swung in a great cross which Cureton converted with the aid of a deflection.
Oakley, returning from a thigh injury to start the match, then provided the ball for the second goal as he swung over a 30th minute free-kick which Molesley fired towards goal. Chris Neal produced a great one-handed save to deny the former Bournemouth player but could not prevent Danny Coles from bundling the ball home at the back post.
After that Port Vale had the better of the first half, but struggled to trouble an in form Artur Krysiak in the City goal.
The closest they came to an equaliser was when League Two's leading scorer Tom Pope sent a shot crashing off the base of the City post.
Exeter defended resolutely in the second half, even when they were reduced to 10 men, and while it was a great team performance, manager Paul Tisdale did single out Oakley and Krysiak for praise.
"The players were tremendously determined and worked themselves right to the last minute, but in terms of quality and expertise then Matt Oakley shone through," he said. "Artur's real talent is his athleticism and ability to come for crosses. And when you defend deep and you defend your box, you have to have something to defend against a high ball into the area and Artur did that again and he has done that more than once this season."