O’DOWDA UP AND RUNNING
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
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