Monday, 13 April 2009

A kick up the table

Sticking to the rule laid down by Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale, I'm not officially supposed to mention the League Two position that the Grecians find themselves in this evening, but it can be estimated as somewhere between first and third.

I've just returned from another quality tussle down at St James' Park. City came away with three points after a deserved win against Wycombe Wanderers. Following a nervy start and an uncertain first half performance, the Grecians came flying out of the stalls in the second period. Only the crossbar (three times) and some outstanding goalkeeping from Jamie Young stopped Exeter adding at least one more goal.

It might have been a very different story if they had conceded early on. But two scrambled goal-mouth clearances in the first two minutes kept honours even until the break. Steve Basham looked slightly off pace up front and Stuart Fleetwood kept getting caught fractionally offside throughout the game. The difference came from the decision to bring on Richard Logan and Craig McAllister just before the restart.

then just after the hour, Matty Gill (my tip for player of the season, along with Dean Moxey) volleyed home at the back post after Logan had flicked on Ryan Harley's deep cross. An eruption of joy and relief resounded around the packed stadium - 8,183 being a record attendance this year, even if some of the 'visitors' around me were decidedly moany!

City now have their destiny in their own hands. With Bury dropping two points today, Brentford looking unassailable (the 1-1 draw at Griffin Park on Saturday was a good result) and Wycombe holding a game in hand, if the Grecians can win their three remaining fixtures they will go up to League One next season automatically. Otherwise, those around them will need to slip up.

The fall-back will be the play-offs and a possible third trip in a row to Wembley, unless something goes badly awry. (Indeed, according to my calculations, Exeter are mathematically in the play-offs as a minimum.) But if that's they way it goes, avoiding Chesterfield, the division form team, would be a good trick at this stage.

On other fronts, a word of consolation should go to Luton Town fans, after their side dropped into the Conference. Staying up after a 30 point Football League deduction for illegalities and maladministration always looked on the margins of possibility. It's a grim situation, and the supporters are paying the penalty while others get away.

I'm also really hoping that my namesakes Barrow can stay in the Blue Square Premier. They might have hoped for better than a 0-0 home draw against relegation zone York City. It's going to be a nail biting finish.


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