O’DOWDA UP AND RUN­NING

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Matt Bam­sey

MICHAEL Ap­ple­ton la­belled his side’s dis­play the ‘poor­est of the sea­son’ as Ox­ford came from be­hind to res­cue a point in the bat­tle of the bot­tom two.

Gra­ham Cum­mins put Ex­eter in front from the penalty spot after Alex Ni­cholls was brought down by keeper George Long.

But Ox­ford hit back after Joe Ri­ley pro­duced a stun­ning rightwing cross for Callum O’Dowda to claim his first se­nior goal.

And although Ox­ford boss Ap­ple­ton heaped praise on teenage winger O’Dowda, he was far more scathing in his as­sess­ment of his side’s per­for­mance.

“It is another point on the board, which is a pos­i­tive,” said Ap­ple­ton.

“Iron­i­cally it was our poor­est per­for­mance of the sea­son but we end up get­ting a point out of it.

“It was a dif­fi­cult game, they were on the front foot from the start and too many of my play­ers were slightly be­hind it.

“We gave the ball away in poor ar­eas. I don’t mind peo­ple mak­ing mis­takes, but their goal was down to a lack of con­cen­tra­tion rather than nat­u­ral abil­ity.

“Callum took his goal re­ally well and had a de­cent af­ter­noon. He was one of the brighter sparks, es­pe­cially in the first half when he was very di­rect.”

Ex­eter got off to the per­fect after Ni­cholls raced on to Cum­mins’ de­fence-split­ting pass be­fore be­ing sent tum­bling by Long, who breathed a huge sigh of re­lief after ref­eree James Lin­ing­ton spared him a card.

Cum­mins sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot for his first City goal since ar­riv­ing from Preston North End over the sum­mer.

But Ox­ford hauled them­selves level on 15 min­utes after a bril­liant cross from Ri­ley picked out O’Dowda at the back post and he kept his com­po­sure to steer the ball into an empty net.

Ex­eter con­tin­ued to carry a threat and Matt Grimes’ piledriver was pushed out for a cor­ner by Long be­fore his op­po­site num­ber Christy Pym came to the res­cue for the Gre­cians.

He pro­duced a great save to deny Johnny Mullins after Tom Newey flicked on O’Dowda’s cor­ner.

Ex­eter came clos­est to grab­bing a win­ner in the sec­ond half but Liam Ser­combe’s pow­er­ful run and shot brought a smart near post save out of Long.

A point lifted Ex­eter off the foot of the ta­ble and man­ager Paul Tis­dale can see shoots of a re­cov­ery from his strug­gling side at the bot­tom.

He said: “It was a re­ally good per­for­mance and I think we ar­guably did enough to win the game.

“We didn’t, but if we play like that ev­ery week, then we will have a de­cent sea­son ahead of us.

“We had shots on tar­get, threats from set pieces and we played to our strengths.

“I feel I am start­ing to get what I need now, but I am still trial and er­ror with what I am see­ing and wait­ing to see what I need dur­ing the game.

“I am mak­ing as­sess­ments and I will make ad­just­ments off the back of it, but we are look­ing like a de­cent side.”

EX­ETER: (4-3-3): Pym 6, Ribeiro 6 (Noble 72 6), Moore-Tay­lor 7, Oak­ley 7, Wood­man 7, Wheeler 7 (Keo­hane 77 6), Ser­combe 6, Grimes 7 (Davies 81 6), Ben­nett 6, Ni­cholls 6, Cum­mins 6 Subs not used: Ha­mon, But­ter­field, Ni­chols, Till­son

OX­FORD: (4-5-1): Long 6, Hunt 6 (Jaku­biak 60 6), Mullins 6, Wright 7, Newey 6, Ruf­fels 6, Collins 6, Ri­ley 7, Hyl­ton 6, O’Dowda 6 (Brown 88 N/A), Bar­nett 6 (Rose 77 6) Subs not used: Cro­combe, Raynes, Mor­ris, Pot­ter

PIC­TURES: Pin­na­cle

STAR MAN MATT OAK­LEY

Ex­eter OFF THE MARK: Callum O’Dowda cel­e­brates his first se­nior goal In­set: Alex Ni­cholls is felled in the penalty area by George Long

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