Tis: Keep calm and reach the play-offs
MANAGER Paul Tisdale challenged his players to hold their nerve as Exeter’s playoff hopes suffered a blow with a first home defeat since November against Accrington.
Seamus McCartan broke the deadlock in the 11th minute after dispatching a 20-yard free-kick for his fourth goal in his last six games.
And Accrington sealed their fourth away win of the season thanks to Matty Pearson’s second-half header as John Coleman’s side moved nine points clear of the drop zone.
Exeter remain in the play-off places despite winning just one of their last six games and Tisdale urged his side to relax as they attempt to recapture the form that saw them go 12 games unbeaten between the end of November and beginning of February.
The Grecians chief said: “It wasn’t good enough.
“We conceded two poor goals, we were edgy and were trying too hard. We rushed things too much.
“I am disappointed but there are ten games to go and we have to keep our nerve.
“We need to find a way of getting some form back and return to our best.
“We looked stressed but we can’t panic. We have to relax because we have won nothing.
“Achieving a play-off spot is our baseline and we will do it by trusting each other and playing to our best. We didn’t do that here.”
Accrington seized the early initiative and got the breakthrough when McCartan lifted a freekick over the Exeter wall and into the top corner.
The Grecians finally came to life in the 41st minute and David Wheeler’s header forced Marek Rodak into a stunning one-handed save.
But Pearson wrapped up the win in the 71st minute after heading home McCartan’s deep corner.
And Coleman challenged his side to finish the season with a flourish.
“We wanted to put them under pressure early on and we scored a great free-kick,” said Coleman.
“I was disappointed with our passing in the first half and there were some harsh words at half-time.
“We asked more questions in the second half and deserved to win. But Exeter are a bright team and they will be in the mix at the end of the season.
“For us, we have to be mindful we are in a relegation fight but we have got to be looking to finish as high as we can.
“If we can finish strongly, we can climb to a respectable position in the table.”