WHEELER FORTUNE FAVOURS GRECIANS
Visiting winger nets winner
PAUL Tisdale was left thrilled as Exeter etched their way into the play-off picture with an impressive win over promotion rivals Portsmouth.
The victory for the Grecians saw them extend their unbeaten run to ten matches, a run which includes eight wins and two draws.
David Wheeler fired in his 11th goal of the season early into the second half to move one ahead of Ollie Watkins as the club’s top scorer.
And Tisdale praised his team’s ability to stick to his game plan.
He said: “First and foremost it was three points for us and keeps our momentum and our form going.
“We were solid and built this victory on teamwork and no one tried to do their own thing, everyone played to the plan.
“We had everyone in the right place at the right time and we were tough and hard to beat which again gets us a clean sheet.
“It was a brilliant finish from Wheeler.
“It came about with some pinball stuff and just fell to him. It wasn’t our most beautifully worked goal but Wheeler took it wonderfully well.
“The players stood really firm
and defended really strongly and at 1-0 with 15 minutes to go it was either going to be a draw or a 2-0 victory.”
The home team started brightly and were rewarded with their first chance of the game in the sixth minute.
Carl Baker’s low cross was met at the near post by the in-form Conor Chaplin but the 19-yearold was unable to direct his back-flick on target as it went just wide of the post.
Exeter responded with an effort of their own minutes later when Reuben Reid weaved his way into the penalty area before his shot was denied by goalkeeper David Forde.
The Grecians had another chance on the stroke of half-time when Watkins attempted a spectacular overhead kick, but his effort didn’t challenge Forde.
Exeter’s persistence was rewarded 12 minutes into the second half when they took the lead through Wheeler.
The ball fell to the winger in the box after rebounding off Pompey’s Danny Rose into the path of the 26-year-old, before he saw his attempt soar into the roof of the net.
Portsmouth manager Paul Cook reacted immediately to the goal as he brought on Gary Roberts and Jamal Lowe two minutes later in an attempt to ignite something.
And they almost had their equaliser in the 72nd minute when Gareth Evans had his stinging shot saved by Christy Pym in the Exeter goal.
Lowe, 22, almost turned into the hero in the final moments of the game but he couldn’t keep his header down after Kal Naismith’s corner.
The Pompey boss was left with no excuses following the result, which saw his side slip further behind the automatic promotion spots.
Cook said: “I don’t think any team had the ascendancy and from a Portsmouth point of view it was one of our poorest performances for a long time.
“We didn’t dominate the ball like we have done at home before and naturally the fans got frustrated which I understand.
“We aren’t going to kid our supporters, it was a very poor, poor day for us.
“I’m not a manager to come out and criticise my players but it took Jamal Lowe to come on off the bench to offer any kind of indication that we might get back into the game.
“That is very sad for me, my staff and my players that a young boy has to come off the bench to lift 17,000 Pompey fans.”
ON FIRE: David Wheeler celebrates his goal
RISING HIGH:Jordan Moore-Taylor climbs over Michael Smith. Inset, Craig Woodman of Exeter City and Carl Baker of Portsmouth tussle off the ball