Stuffed

Monday, 28 December 2009

At the start of the Christmas period, six points from nine was the ideal target. Instead we've ended up with 4 from 9, which isn't as bad as three but not as good as six. HaL can do mental arithmetic providing we don't venture into double figures.

What we're trying to say is this isn't the worst haul we could have had, but neither is it the best. If only Alex Russell's superb shot could have stayed a little to the right, we'd have been a tad more comfortable.

Southend we've dealt with. Saints was a game where anything other than a horrific loss would have done. We nearly had the horrific loss. Two goals and a man down before half time, we managed to fight back and were eventually undone on the break. Such is life. At least we can be proud we didn't roll over and die, like we may have done in the past.

Shame it was spoiled by a very stupid sending off for Troy. Naive is the phrase I'd use. That may have been his last appearance in a City shirt and I can't work out if that's a good or a bad thing for us. Although he was wandering around the ground before kick-off today, so I suppose he's staying. That's a good thing. I think.

But if a loss to the Saints was disappointing, drawing at home to Gillingham was more so. That's only the second point Stimson's men have collected on the road. Once they leave the comfort of the industrial estate, they're lost, it seems.

And make no mistake - they were there for the taking. It's a shame we had to endure 80 minutes of turgid, depressing football that wouldn't have been out of place in Eastenders before the game picked up.

Gillingham, unusually, had a solid defence, albeit once helped by a linesman fresh out of school, and one that hadn't yet been to the 'offside' lesson. They also were woeful up front. Dennis Oli could have had the ball presented to him on a silver platter while our defence formed a guard of honour and he'd still have shanked it over the bar.

Not that we were much better insofar as we simply couldn't create chances. Marcus Stewart and Ryan Harley had pops but nothing special. Special praise for Stewart today - he may not have been a fans favourite over recent weeks but today he was excellent: headers were won, passes were probed and he looked a class above.

There was more than a touch of luck to Richard Duffy's first goal for the club as it took a massive deflection, but a goal is a goal and it's a while since we've had any player try their luck from distance. I was beginning to believe they'd been brainwashed to thinking you could only shoot inside the penalty box.

And then we switch off. Typical City, get our noses in front and then we muck around in defence and let them score. Still, lovely finish from the Gills player for the equaliser. As the Bus Driver said to me just before our opener: "I'm nervous if we score. That normally means we concede two."

Losing a second goal was never likely to happen though. Once it went it, the Gills were already mentally thinking about the post-match cup of tea and sat back, happy with a point. City weren't and suddenly remembered there's no crime in playing attacking football and bombarded the box.

Alex Russell, who was immense for his 20 minute cameo, hit a fantastic long distance volley that struck the bottom of the post. Stewart looped a shot over the bar. Harley skipped past three to the byline and cut back onto for Alan Julian in the Gills goal to somehow reach and pull it to safety after the scramble. It. Was. One. Of. Those. Days.

It's hard to be too disappointed with the performance (second-half only. Both sides were woeful in the first) but it reinforces the fact that the second half of the season is going to be as long and dark as the inner workings of Roman Pavlychenko's mind.

There's something in the performances to suggest we're not far from clicking. When that click will come is another question.

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Happy As Larry

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

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