Walk in the park for Paul’s Grecians
EXETER may have a reputation for playing neat, attractive football; they also displayed another side to their game yesterday.
Victory at Hartlepool was thanks to a dogged display on a horrible day in the north-east – the sort of performance, and result, that wins you promotion.
Exeter boss Paul Tisdale said:“It was a really impressive win, without playing fantastic football. We worked well to get the openings. It’s three in a row which is pleasing and now we have some form.
“It was a difficult day, we have missed Lee Holmes for the last week or so from training, but he came back in and it was a chance playing him there in that formation.
“We wanted players in positions who could do something – and Lee created the opening goal for us.
“A strong wind, low sun and the conditions, a bumpy hard pitch makes it hard. The first goal gave us a chance to hold on.’’ And hold on they did. The opener came when Joel Grant took possession deep inside his own half and was able to turn unchallenged to break away.
He fed Holmes and his tasty cross from the left was met by Alex Nicholls, who got across his marker to head in.
The first half was a desperate affair and the home side only sparked into some life when substitute Nathan Thomas got on the ball.
From the left wing, he was direct and created a number of openings, but there was a lack of attackers in the penalty area.
The closest they came was when defender Christian Ribeiro chested the ball to his own goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik from close range.
Fellow centre-back Jamie McAllister headed over his own bar from a Jordan Richards corner, but it was 86 minutes before Pools managed a shot on target of any note.
Left-back Jake Carroll sent a low drive at goalkeeper Olejnik from distance.
The Grecians broke away, Nicholls crossed and Grant got to the ball first to turn into the net from close range. Pools protested the ball didn’t cross the line after it hit the bar, but the goal was instantly awarded.
It capped Pools’ seventh home defeat of the season. And boss Ronnie Moore said :“We started well out there. The tempo was high, but we didn’t create too much. Then we huffed and puffed.
“There was nothing in the game in the first half, but their lad gets a free header in for a goal.
“In the second half Nathan [Thomas] was a constant threat, he needed more ball, and the strikers have to be on the front foot.
“The crowd were behind us, but once we go two down it doesn’t matter as we have lost 2-0.”
STAR MAN JOEL GRANT