Gre­cians de­railed by smoke grenade

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

A FIRE scare in­side St James’ Park put a dent in Ex­eter’s play-off chal­lenge, ac­cord­ing to man­ager Paul Tis­dale.

A Jay­den Stock­ley goal got the Gre­cians off to the per­fect start against Carlisle as he grabbed an eighth-minute opener, be­fore the game was stopped for an hour af­ter fire alarms were set off.

It later emerged a Carlisle sup­porter had let off a smoke grenade in the toi­let and was promptly ar­rested.

Once the game restarted fol­low­ing a mass evac­u­a­tion of fans from the Old Grand­stand, Carlisle re­grouped and grabbed a 30thminute equaliser through Char­lie Wyke.

David Wheeler put Ex­eter back in front on 79 min­utes but Hal­lam Hope sal­vaged a point.

Ex­eter boss Tis­dale moaned: “It was a strange af­ter­noon and not one I have had be­fore, and the in­ci­dent didn’t re­ally help us much.

“We made a re­ally good start to the game and what you want as an away man­ager when you are be­ing out­played and a goal down af­ter ten min­utes is an op­por­tu­nity to have a team talk and to change the shape and re­group.

“That is what they did, I don’t blame them for that, they changed their shape and they were back in the game.

“It is very dis­ap­point­ing not to put the game to bed and I think we have missed an op­por­tu­nity there.”

Stock­ley fired Ex­eter in front af­ter prof­it­ing from a bad mis­take from Carlisle ‘keeper Mark Gille­spie.

The striker latched on to Wheeler’s flick-on and let fly with a half vol­ley that Gille­spie could only parry into his own net.

But Carlisle hauled them­selves level af­ter tak­ing ad­van­tage of a mis­take by Ryan Har­ley.

The mid­fielder gave the ball away and Wyke raced into the box be­fore squeez­ing a shot past Bobby Ole­jnik.

Ex­eter got their noses in front again with a clin­i­cal move which ended with Holmes cross­ing for Wheeler and he got across his marker be­fore steer­ing the ball past Gille­spie.

But Carlisle res­cued a point when Luke Joyce’s loop­ing shot bounced off the bar and Hope headed in the re­bound.

Carlisle boss Keith Curle said:“We showed good char­ac­ter and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“There was a lot of dis­trac­tions go­ing on at the start of the game with the threat of the fire. Ex­eter han­dled the sit­u­a­tion re­ally well and sup­port­ers’ safety has to come first.

“It was a mas­sive dis­trac­tion for ev­ery­body but af­ter the restart we set­tled re­ally quickly and looked the dom­i­nant team.

“I was dis­ap­pointed with both of their goals but we looked a threat go­ing for­ward.”

DAR­RELL Clarke pointed to the near 8,000 crowd as ev­i­dence of the progress made dur­ing his 100 games in charge of Bris­tol Rovers.

In that time the young man­ager has seen the club slip into the Con­fer­ence, win pro­mo­tion back to the Foot­ball League at the first at­tempt and now move up to fourth in League Two, within three points of the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion places.

Matt Tay­lor’s 20th goal of the sea­son saw off the chal­lenge of res­o­lute Mans­field, the team who on the last day of the 2013-14 sea­son rel­e­gated Rovers to the Con­fer­ence by win­ning at the Me­mo­rial Sta­dium.

Asked to sum up his pe­riod at the helm af­ter a land­mark match in his ca­reer, Clarke said: “Just look at the crowd. The last time Rovers were in League Two gates were av­er­ag­ing around 5,000.

“The fans have been through some tough times, but they are now en­joy­ing what they see and have been fan­tas­tic for us.

“I have to­tal faith in my squad of play­ers and with ten games left there is ev­ery­thing to play for.

“One or two of the teams above us will no­tice us creep­ing up on them, but no one here will get car­ried away.

“If I was a Premier League man­ager I would want to fin­ish in the top four.

“That is how I am and my only aim be­tween now and the end of the sea­son is to win ev­ery game and see where it takes us.

“We had to be pa­tient, but at half time I told the play­ers to go out and com­plete a great week and I’m de­lighted they did just that.” Tay­lor popped up un­marked at the far post just af­ter the hour mark to tap home Cris­tian Mon­tano’s cross from the left and set­tle an in­stantly for­get­table game.

The other big mo­ment was a bril­liant 87th minute save by Rovers goal­keeper Steve Milden­hall to keep out a goal-bound shot from Lee Collins.

At the other end, Mans­field goal­keeper Scott Shearer had a busier se­cond half against his old club, but was not un­duly tested.

The vis­i­tors set up in a 4-1-4-1 for­ma­tion, with skip­per Collins in front of the back-four, and suc­ceeded in nul­li­fy­ing the at­tack­ing threat of a Rovers team who had net­ted nine goals in win­ning their pre­vi­ous three home games.

But they still left with­out any points and slippe down to 11th, five points off the play-off places.

Man­ager Adam Mur­ray said: “It’s the first time we have lost three games on the bounce so it is hard to take.

“We have been des­per­ately try­ing to bring in a striker on loan and those ef­forts will con­tinue next week.

“There is a lack of be­lief in the op­po­si­tion box that we are go­ing to score and we need to ad­dress that.

“For an hour I couldn’t see Rovers scor­ing. Then we con­ceded a poor goal from our point of view be­cause not for the first time we didn’t de­fend our box strongly enough.

“In the end it has taken a great save to stop us get­ting a point, but you could see why Rovers are where they are in the ta­ble.”

PIC­TURES: JMP

FOR YOU BOSS: Matt Tay­lor cel­e­brates af­ter se­cur­ing Dar­rell Clarke vic­tory in his 100th game STAR MAN TOM

ER LOCKY

Rovers Bris­tol

STAR MAN JAY­DEN STOCK

LEY Ex­eter

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