Grecians derailed by smoke grenade
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.”
FOR YOU BOSS: Matt Taylor celebrates after securing Darrell Clarke victory in his 100th game STAR MAN TOM
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