Town v Exeter: A Missed Opportunity
There was relief all around the County Ground last night as Town snatched a late equaliser in front of the Sky TV Cameras to hold a resolute Exeter City to a 1-1 draw. I’d previously thought Town would take a 1-0 win, a win which now would have been all important if we are going to recover from the away loss at Colchester on Saturday.
Whilst Swindon have come into some criticism for a lack of ideas in some quarters this morning, it was never going to be easy against a team which came with a game plan to defend deep and played a stubborn game in defence. All credit must go to Exeter’s defence, which closed down the space and restricted Austin and Paynter throughout. Swindon have so often thrived this season on defenders playing a higher line, allowing the front two to find space and Austin, in particular, to beat the offside trap, but Exeter had done their homework.
The first half was a story of misplaced Swindon passes, as well as too often resisting the ball forward. Exeter seized the advantage and went 1-0 up just before half time with a swift break, which Greer should have dealt with. The Grecians had the best of the first 5 minutes in the second half with a few chances. If only they were more clinical of their finishing it could well have been Bristol Rovers and a heavy defeat all over again as Town could have been exploited on the counter attack.
As Town piled on the pressure in the second half Exeter found themselves defending deeper and deeper. If they defended any deeper they’d be in the car park behind the Town End. The bombardment came from Greer’s constant hoofing of the ball into the box and McGovern whipping in balls from the right wing. Town had so many chances, hitting the bar, off the post, cleared off the line, pushed wide by the keeper, just wide and just over but Exeter held firm.
The key turning point was Stephen Darby being replaced by Kevin Amankwaah. Readers will recall my preference for Amankwaah from a few weeks ago because of the extra edge he gives us in the final third. From this point onwards Town looked more dangerous down the right.
Wilson threw everything forward when Vincent Pericard replaced central defender Cuthbert to play 3-4-3. This last roll of the dice paid dividends as, whilst Pericard didn’t score, as expected, his physical presence caused confusion in the box. This lead to the eventual goal, a deflected own goal from a McGovern ball into the six yard box.
This draw makes a big difference to the possibility of securing the 2nd automatic promotion place. With four games left Town really need to win all of them to have any chance of finishing second. To be honest, a few months ago I never imagined we would even be in this position for automatic promotion, so if we miss out, as is now looking likely, I’m still proud of the effort. But we really need to regain our form so that we end the season and go into the play-offs on a high.