Exeter City left The Valley empty handed but put up a spirited performance against high flying Charlton Athletic. It`s a testament to City once again that supporters will come home disappointed with a narrow 2-1 defeat.
The home side started brightly, and for fifthteen minutes had the Grecians firmly on the back foot. The addicks had plenty of possession and were camped in the City half. On the left Lloyd Sam looked a constant danger which Danny Seaborne struggled to contain. However, despite getting a lot of balls into the box from wide areas, City defended extremely well, the centre back pairing of Matt Taylor and Troy Archibald Henville looking as strong as ever. Deon Burton, looking for his 100th career goal had a good opportunity from a ball in from the left but failed to keep his header down. Charlton`s best chance in the opening half hour saw the home side get past Seaborne on the right and deliver a ball into the area in which a stooping header only failed to hit the back of the net due to the intervention of one of Charlton`s own players.
Charlton`s first goal was poor from Exeter`s point of view. Forty minutes of good defensive work was undone by a sloppy piece of defending from a corner. The ball broke free inside the six yard box and addicks Captain Nicky Bailey slotted into the bottom right hand corner.
Exeter were roused into an excellent second half performance where they generally had the better of the play. The home side provided little threat shooting towards their own fans, whilst the travelling City support was attempting to suck the ball towards the net. Adam Stansfield, playing in a lone striking role, had a very good game and was a constant menace to the Charlton back four as he hurried and harried at every ball. Winger Craig Noone alternated to the right flank in the second half, and as in his previous two games provided a sustained threat to the opposition. Troy Archibald Henville had a good opportunity with a header from point blank range midway through the half but couldn`t quite keep his head over the ball. Shortly after, Noone thought he had equalised when he slid under the advancing keeper after being put through one on one. However, it was adjudged to have been offside; an incident I will have to see again to make an informed judgement,
Richard Logan was brought on for Noone shortly after the disallowed goal, and combined with Stansfield`s earlier substitution for Barry Corr, City were a different, but not necessarily a better proposition in attack. City had lost their width, and started to go a bit more direct. However, City looked the more likely to score than concede, until four minutes from time, when Oscar Jansson fumbled what appeared to be a straightforward low cross from Charlton`s left, and Izale McLeod was grateful as he had a simple finish into the bottom right hand corner. So, City`s assault for a share of the spoils was over? Certainly not, as Elliot somehow saved from Barry Corr`s header and the rebound from Bertie Cozic. However, from the resulting corner, City got a deserved goal when Cozic nodded in, and City had a lifeline. And in the three minutes of stoppage time, there were a couple of promising wide positions but which were poorly delivered by Alex Russell and Marcus Stewart. However, when the whistle went, the City fans were proud of their team`s efforts and were given a healthy departure off the pitch. Exeter City were never expected to get a result at Charlton and nearly did, but the big test comes in the next week when we face two important and winnable games at home against Swindon and Hartlepool respectively. Up the City!
Oscar Jansson 6
Generally looked assured, with the fumble which led to the second goal being the only blemish.
Richard Duffy 6
Decent performance, defensively, and occasionaly getting forward
Troy Archibald Henville 8
A rock in the heart of the defence; in the air and on the ground
Matt Taylor 8
Dan Seaborne 6
As I have said previously, not his favoured position at left back, and made a few mistakes, but made up for them on other occasions. However, he was up against a good winger in Lloyd Sam, and the abuse he got from some quarters was unwarranted.
Rob Edwards 7
Not past it on this performance!
Alex Russell 6
A decent performance and worked hard, but still not enough legs in the midfield for my liking. Personally, would swap with Cozic.
Ryan Harley 8
As well as looking composed on the ball and generating some promising positions with his excellent control of the football, Harley worked hard to cover ground in the middle of the park
Craig Noone 7
Always a threat and an outlet when he was on the field
Marcus Stewart 6
Played well; but would still like to see more
Adam Stansfield 8
We can’t take this guy for granted! Ran the channels well as always, and got to some balls that he had no right to.
Barry Corr 7
Looked good and unlucky not to fashion a chance for himself.
Richard Logan 6
Worked hard as City tried in vain to get back to level terms.
Typical Bertie in the short time he was on the field, and got the City goal
Paul Tisdale 6
Perhaps questions over substitutions as much of our threat was before Stansfield and Noone were taken off