Grecians playing classy brand of football
I think we can safely say that it’s the end of the summer.
The cricket whites are back in the cupboard (well, at least they will be when I get through that pile of washing), and a quick look out the window reveals that it’s not just Celtic Manor that’s on the receiving end of a drenching. It’s October, and football’s back on centre stage.
Thanks to the vagaries of timetabling and the cricket season, allied to the fact that I celebrated the start of the new term by writing off my car, it’s been a long time since I saw us win a game. It was eighteen months ago – back in May ’08 at the Don Valley Stadium, to be precise – before Jamie Cureton’s header killed off that unwanted record five minutes after half-time.
It’s always special going back to the Park after a few months away, seeing the steps City have taken onwards: the new pitch, the new sprinklers, the new turnstiles, the new pizza sponsorship deal. Every time I go back, it feels like it’s to a club who are one step further forwards than they were before. On the pitch, too, it’s almost impossible to believe that it’s less than three years since we lost a league game at home to Stafford.
It’s not just the results, the bare stats that say we’re on the fringe of the League One Play Off zone: it’s the football. There’s no doubt that the new pitch helps, but you need more than just fancy grass to play short, sharp, smart, sensible passes: patience, discipline, vision and no little technique.
The fact that you have to put up with teenage halfwits standing behind you and complaining that we pass the ball too often, and should try hitting it long instead, is an unfortunate side effect.
You could see everything that the club – and Tisdale’s team – stands for, embodied on the pitch. Positional discipline: with both wing-backs in Scott Golbourne and skipper Steve Tully haring down the flanks, and the holding midfield pair of our own Liam Sercombe and Arsenal discard James Dunne putting in yard upon unsung yard in midfield.
Up front, there’s genuine competition for places as four strikers battle for the two starts – and better still, they’re four strikers who are all scoring goals. Richard Logan’s already got as many as he did last year.
My last blog wished for a goalscorer: in Daniel Nardiello, Jamie Cureton and John O’Flynn, we might even have three. That’s without mentioning the fact that our top scorer is in fact Ryan Harley, in the hole behind the front two, and there’s David Noble – biding his time on the bench since around about the time my kit sponsorship went through.
Finally, add into the mix the fact that Saturday’s winning goal came as Cureton – easily the shortest player on the pitch – headed home a cross from Troy Archibald-Henville: our centre back, who found himself on the right wing for reasons unclear to anyone else in Exeter.
Total football, no doubt, and an excuse (if it were needed) for a rendition of the tribute song to the man with the longest name in football: syllable for syllable along the White Stripes’ iconic Seven Nation Army riff.
Two years ago we began October with a 3-0 win over Gillingham that took us seventh in League Two with 14 points. That was the season that ended with the victory at Rotherham that sealed instant promotion. This October we’re seventh once again, but two points better off.
Why can’t we do it again?