Adam Stanfield marked his return to the team with both goals as Exeter City recorded their first home victory of the season after defeating Tranmere Rovers 2-1 at St. James Park.
Stansfield, who made his first start since before Easter, scored perhaps the easiest two goals he will ever score. Rovers pulled a goal back mid way through the second half through former England one hit wonder Michael Ricketts, but City held out for victory. However, City should have avoided what was a nervy last twenty minutes as Tranmere were there for the taking and were atrocious defensively.
However, the visitors started the better of the two teams and had a few opportunities early on which were dealt with by City keeper Oscar Jansson. The Grecians didn`t threaten too often, and the first goal came against the run of play twenty five minutes in. Stand out performer Craig Noone crossed the ball in from the left by-line and a defensive mix-up saw the ball bounce up onto the goaline, and Stansfield couldn`t believe his luck as he tapped in from point blank range. After this somewhat fortunate goal, the Grecians created some more good chances before half time. First, Noone bent a ball from inside his own half down the left to Stansfield who out paced his defender, and then cut back inside onto his right foot on the edge on the box. With the keeper in no mans land Stansfield opted to chip the ball, but it agonisingly went fractions over the bar. Not long after, an excellent passage of play saw Marcus Stewart release Richard Duffy in space down the right, who cut the ball back to Stuart Fleetwood just inside the box, who re-directed the ball towards the keeper`s right hand corner. Despite being on target there wasn`t enough power to beat the keeper, who parried away.
After the break, City came out all guns blazing looking to exploit the massive gaps and flaws in the visitor`s defence. Attacking the Big Bank, City had a host of opportunities before Stansfield scored his second nine minutes into the second period. Fleetwood turned with ease and Noone took over and had plenty of time to decide what to do as he raced towards goal. His shot was saved by the keeper but came off a defender`s back and Stansfield was left with a tap in once again. City continued to look threatening until the hour when Tranmere became more involved. The warning signs were there, and City only had themselves to blame when a long throw was flicked on and nodded in by Michael Ricketts. Despite this setback, City continued to expose the Tranmere defence. However, after Noone got injured after a 50/50 tackle, City lost a valuable out ball, and it proved to be a nervy last 15 minutes. This wasn`t helped by an appalling piece of sportsmanship by Tranmere following the Noone injury where the visitors opted to take a throw in and bomb down the right wing instead of returning possession to the home side. Nonetheless, the visitor`s only chance of note in the closing stages was a clear header from a corner which went into the side netting in injury time.
In truth City would be kicking themselves if they somehow failed to win this game. Tranmere were a side out of sorts, and there were massive gaps throughout their back line. It is hard to judge City`s performance as Tranmere were so poor. However, City must make the most of their opportunities in this league, and they didn`t do so today. Nethertheless, City have got their first home victory of the season. It is certainly a valuable three points and takes us to 15th in the league with nine points from eight games.
Oscar Jansson 7
Made some good saves in the first twenty minutes and looked assured aerially
Richard Duffy 7
An assured performance in his favoured right back role.
Matt Taylor 7
Solid in the air, and didn’t give much away.
Troy Archibald-Henville 7
Like Captain Taylor, solid in the air as always.
Dan Seaborne 5
Booked in the first half after he was beaten by his left winger. And raised his hand to a player in the second half. Not totally convincing.
Marcus Stewart 5
Showed some clever touches but didn’t show enough
Alex Russell 5
Decent enough, but would prefer Cozic sitting with Harley in the midfield. Always in danger of being overrun.
Ryan Harley 7
Showed his class on the ball for most of the match.
Craig Noone 9
Man of the match!
Adam Stansfield 8
A bright performance in his first start this season. Two sitters for his goals, and could and should have claimed a hat-trick.
Stuart Fleetwood 5
Stansfield totally outshone Fleetwood. Needs to get more stuck in and work harder. Nonetheless, he has the potential to be a key member of the team.
Paul Tisdale 7
Good to see us playing two up front; a move that paid off