Corr Blimey: Ten men Exeter come close against Leeds

Sunday, 9 August 2009

The Corrs: Three-quarters better looking than Barry and they don't pick up daft red cards

As a rule of thumb, fans who's team have just lost to a last-gasp winner should not be leaving the stadium smiling and singing. They should be sulking and moody and sending an advance text message home warning the family to put the cat out of the way lest it gets kicked. But grinning wildly from ear to ear? Surely somebody's drugged the pies at Elland Road.

But then such fans don't usually turn up to games with no idea of what to expect, look to be on a tonking after the first 20 minutes and come so close to snatching an improbable winner. The smiles, essentially, are coded language for "phew, we're not relegation fodder after all."

Secretly, all Exeter fans would have been approaching the season opener against Leeds with a wee nip of something strong in their morning cuppas. After two successive promotions we get probably the biggest game of the season to start with.

Leeds United are a known quantity. They have some rather good players. They are meant to be title contenders. Exeter are a club coming off the back of two promotions with a new look squad, injured strikers and an aura of je ne sais quoi around the team selection. Until the whistle was blown for kick-off, we were a riddle wrapped in an enigma stuffed in a glass of cider.

With just one striker on the pitch, Tisdale was clearly going for a safety-first containment strategy which didn't really work as the players looked a little nervous, scarcely believing they were at Elland Road, which was hosting Champions League football less than ten years ago.

But that was then and the current bunch of Leeds players are in League One for a reason, meaning there wasn't much excuse to let Jermaine Beckford waltz through the defence to fire off Leeds' opener.

Up to that point, it had been mostly Leeds anyway and the fears looked like they could become a reality. Back-to-back promotions are all well and good but a hammering at the hands of the title favourites would bring us crashing back to earth.

But, weirdly, that goal seemed to wake Exeter up a bit and gradually we started to match them. New signing Barry Corr scuffed a decent chance and once we worked out lumping it out of defence generally meant the ball came straight back, we started to play what is commonly known as a bit of football.

At half time, only one down, the more optimistic of us quietly suggested we could grab a draw. This wasn't laughed out of the stadium and all the way to Bradford, as it would have been 25 minutes earlier.

And the second half saw more of the same. Whatever Tis had done to calm the team down had worked. We were playing football, and we were just about holding our own against one of the best sides in the division.

Yes, they still dished out a few footballing lessons, most notably in when to realise a ball, and there were a few cute moves that City will need to cotton onto, but essentially it was an even contest. Albeit with a one goal deficit to us.

Then came a rather odd turning point. As Ryan Harley tootled over to take a corner, stroking his ginger beard and mulling over whether to hit it long, play it short or put it in the mixer, the ref showed Corr a red card.

At this point I'd love to be able to offer some insightful analysis but, truthfully, I was looking elsewhere. As was the majority of our fans.

It'd be easy to criticise the ref - and why not, he was pretty shite - but they don't tend to send off players in a sedate lapse in play without good reason. A few on Exeweb have suggested Corr had a dig at the centre-half and the ref saw it, which is fair enough and, if that's what happened, a bloody stupid way to start your Exeter career. Not young Barry's finest hour.

Anyway, with our only striker on the pitch gone, McAllister replaced the already-booked Rob Edwards and immediately set about imposing himself up front.

Honestly, he probably went down a little easily to get us a free kick on the edge of the area but at least he looked like he'd been fouled. Unlike Luciano Becchio who spent much of the game tripping over invisible molehills.

But, no matter, we'd been pressing for a while and nobody could say we didn't deserve a goal. Russell and Harley exchanged passes before Russell hit a sweet curling shot into the top right hand corner and I found myself hugging the Exeweb editor, something neither of us thought would have been on the cards.

From then on, Leeds looked panicked while ten-men City stayed calm. Young Jimmy Norwood made his debut as a sub and, despite some shocking pink boots, looked incredibly useful and chased after everything for us up front (and nearly got a goal).

But Leeds were still pretty good and were only a crisp passing move away from a goal and Beckford's second was a wonderfully flowing move finished by a top-draw header. He's a bit good, that lad.

So heartache, but also delighted. We'd proven we could mix it with Leeds and were unlucky not to come away with a point. The fans made A LOT of noise and there's a lot to suggest that, if we keep up the passing game, we'll be ok.

A quick word for our Number 14 as well. Bertie Cozic, who is affectionately loved for putting in the effort while not being that good, was magnificent and Happy As Larry's man of the match. And long may that continue. He ran, he chased, he harried and most of our attacking stuff went through him. Allez Bertie!

Also, a quick word for Leeds fans. They have a reputation, but they were some of the nicest supporters I've met. Funny, frank and very gracious in victory, they've earned themselves a bit of respect from this corner of the internet and were the icing on the cake to a very enjoyable day in their city. A great bunch of fans, and a phrase I never thought I'd write.

But a note of caution. On Saturday we were happy because we'd done bloody well against a good side in a cracking game and lost. The match has set a marker for the season.

What we can't have is that same feeling over the next few games. We've shown we can compete in this division, so let's not end up smiling at unfortunate defeats any more. Next time we lose, I want the full bloody agony again. It may not be fun, but it's better for us in the long run.


Happygrecian 10 August 2009 at 00:01  

Great blog, and completely agree with all your comments on the Leeds game, particularly about the Leeds fans. What a friendly lot they are, saving me twice from being clamped or ticketed, and on the mile walk back to where I eventually left the car, several said how Exeter had deserved a point from the game

Happy As Larry

This is an Exeter City fan blog by Gary Andrews, covering news, views and action from the real St. James' Park.

Come on you Grecians!

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