JAKE TAYLOR IS THE CAPTAIN OF EXETER CITY

While we were disappointed with our performance in the 2-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Saturday, there were plenty of positives to take from Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at home to Bolton.

Of course, we’d have liked to have taken all three points against the Lancashire side.

However, we played a whole lot better than we did at the weekend and could, I think, consider ourselves a little unlucky not to have bagged the win.

The better opportunities definitely fell to us and, with just a little more good fortune in front of goal, we might easily have secured our first victory since walloping Tranmere Rovers in mid-December.



Jake Taylor, Captain of Exeter City is fouled by Antoni Sarcevic of Bolton Wanderers during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Bolton Wanderers at St James Park, Exeter on 12 Jan 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Certainly, we had chances to go ahead before Owls centre-half Ricardo Santos inadvertently bundled the ball into his own net, after a fantastic run by Matt Jay, just after the hour mark.

Exeter City vs Bolton Wanderers

At that point, I thought we looked pretty comfortable, with Jonny Maxted largely untroubled. Unfortunately, little more than 10 minutes later a quick Bolton break saw former Swindon man Eoin Doyle cross for substitute Arthur Gnahoua to fire home from close range.

Buoyed by their equaliser, the visitors went on to enjoy their best spell of the game over the next five to 10 minutes.

However, we weathered the storm and put Matt Gilkes’ goal under some sustained pressure in the closing stages, with a spectacular overhead kick from Nigel Atangana rattling the Bolton crossbar in stoppage time.



Nigel Atangana of Exeter City has a last minute attempt on goal during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Bolton Wanderers at St James Park, Exeter on 12 Jan 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK
Nigel Atangana of Exeter City has a last minute attempt on goal during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Bolton Wanderers at St James Park, Exeter on 12 Jan 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Undoubtedly, one of the positives to come out of Tuesday night’s game was the return of Pierce Sweeney, who had been in great form up until he succumbed to a hamstring injury in our 1-1 draw with Forest Green Rovers on Boxing Day.

Fortunately for Sweenz, the postponements of our fixtures against Newport County and Barrow meant he didn’t miss as many matches as he would otherwise have done.

On a less happy note, I was forced off just before the hour-mark having tweaked my hamstring.

We’ll know a bit more in the next few days but barring miracles that probably puts me out of Saturday’s game at Harrogate Town and, more than likely, our home game with Stevenage seven days later.

Heading into the Sheffield Wednesday game, we thought we had a real chance of making it through to the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 1981. Unfortunately, we didn’t perform anywhere near as well as we should have done and it was our opponents who went into Monday night’s draw.

Clearly, there’s no shame in losing to a Championship side – all the more so when you consider we were in the game right up until they scored a second goal in stoppage time – and we weren’t much helped by our lack of match practice, but I don’t want to make excuses.

Exeter City vs Sheffield Wednesday

We know we should have done better than we did and the mood in the changing room afterwards was a sombre one.

If we’d gone out having given it a real go it would have been different, but we couldn’t help feeling a golden opportunity had passed us by.

Elsewhere in the FA Cup, it was fantastic to see Ben Chrisene line-up for Aston Villa against Liverpool. Of course, Ben’s opportunity only came about because of an outbreak of Covid-19 among the club’s first team squad. Be that as it may, Villa would have had no shortage of youngsters to whom they could have turned, so it speaks volumes that they trusted someone who has only just turned 17 to line up against the reigning Premier League champions.

For what it’s worth, I thought the Villa youngsters were fantastic and Ben acquitted himself really well. Indeed, I understand he has made such an impression at Villa that he signed his first professional contract earlier this week.

While it’s unfortunate that Exeter supporters didn’t get to see a bit more of him, from what we saw at the Cliff Hill training ground I have no doubt he’s more than capable of following in the footsteps of Ethan Ampadu and Ollie Watkins and becoming a regular in the Premier League.

I’ve tried to avoid looking at the league table too much over recent weeks, as it doesn’t really tell the full story right now. As things stand, we’re down in 10th, but have games in hand on the overwhelming majority of sides and if we were to win them would be right back in the thick of things and challenging for an automatic promotion spot.

Clearly, we’d far rather have points in the bag. but there’s not much we can do about that. We just need to start winning games again sooner rather than later and get into some kind of rhythm ahead of what are going to be a crazy few months with games coming at us thick and fast.



Joel Randall of Exeter City during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Bolton Wanderers at St James Park, Exeter on 12 Jan 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK
Joel Randall of Exeter City during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Bolton Wanderers at St James Park, Exeter on 12 Jan 2021. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Regardless of whether I’m involved, it would be great if we could get back to winning ways at Harrogate on Saturday.

Having gone down 2-1 to the League Two newcomers at St James Park last month, we have a good idea of the challenge they’re likely to present. For sure, it won’t be easy, but we were some way short of our best then, when defensive frailties cost us dear, and we know we’re capable of much, much better.

Fingers crossed we can demonstrate that on the pitch and kickstart our season with our first win of 2021!





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