Thursday, 18 August 2011

Exeter City vs Yeovil Town (09/08/11)

Match 124

Ground #: 13 (3rd Visit)

Ground: St James Park

Competition: Carling Cup 1st Round

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £12 (concession)

Programme: £3

Attendance: 3,856

Exeter City 2

Bauza 63’, Shephard 90’ 

Yeovil Town 0 


There were a few reasons for coming to this game. Finally doing a blog report on St James Park, seeing Devon’s premier football side before I left for London or some symmetry as I saw Yeovil vs Exeter in a cup competition last season. None of that really mattered though as this took place on the 9th August 2011. 10th August 2010 saw the loss of one of the nice guys in football who had done so much for SW football as a whole. Adam Stansfield. Having a year ago, gone to a ground where he had played early in his career, it seemed only fitting to go and watch a game at the club he last played for during these tough times for his family and supporters of the club and football as a whole. Adam Stansfield, Exeter’s Number 9.


Having already blogged from Exeter’s 3 leading non-league sides in Exeter Civil Service, Exeter University and Alphington, there isn’t much point to doing my normal “Exeter is…” when I’ve written about it in the Civil Service report. I will briefly say that Exeter is a lovely place that is worth a visit if you are down in the SW. It boasts some excellent architecture and a cathedral that is a must see directly in the centre. This post though focuses on the main football side which is Exeter City. Founded in 1904, they have played at their St James Park ground since their formation. They have very little success at the top levels with their only major trophy being the Football League Division 4 (League 2) title in 1990. They have also recovered well from relegation to the Conference in 2003 as they got out of non-league in 2008 with a play-off victory over Cambridge before gaining promotion to League 1 the following season. Under the leadership of boss Paul Tisdale (who is surely destined to manage at a higher level), Exeter seem to have settled as a League 1 side and not many teams enjoy a trip to St James Park – a classic old ground.


The main focal point of the ground now is the large terrace behind the goal known locally as the “Big Bank” which can hold just under 4000 fans and is the largest stand in the ground. The old grandstand which was a rebuild following a fire in 1926 and it is still a grand old sight despite being a tad small and not running the full length of the pitch. Down the other side is a new all seater stand while behind the opposite goal is the small away terrace which in my eyes is the worst stand (or end) in the Football League. A small uncovered end with a few steps that has been made smaller over the summer with the addition of an emergency walkway right behind the goal and metal fencing half way up the steps which makes the whole end a little tatty and small. It will be interesting to see if the end copes with a big crowd. That being said, Exeter City recently announced plans for an ambitious redevelopment of the site and local consultations have already begun to take place. We will wait to see if this development ever comes off. (Pic below shows artists impression of “new” ground)


On the pitch, Exeter are trying to improve on a fantastic 8th place last season, just 1 point off the play-offs. They had started their season with a credible 0-0 draw at Stevenage, although they still needed to properly replace top player Ryan Harley who had left the club over the summer to join Swansea City Reserves. Tisdale had brought in Guillem Bauza, Nicholas Bignall (on loan) and Callum McNish among others to improve the squad. They welcomed fellow West Country side Yeovil Town to the Park for this Carling Cup tie who again, are amongst the favourites for relegation. Terry Skiverton will need to use the loan market excellently again to avoid a fight for the drop. Though they did create a new record in the summer though as their signing of Kieran Agard was the World’s first Twansfer as fans told Skiverton about Agard and his availability over Twitter. Yeovil had started their season away at Uwe Rosler’s Brentford and crashed to a poor 2-0 defeat from what I had read on their forum before this match. Like last season when I saw Yeovil vs Exeter in the JPT, I had decided to be a plastic Glover for this game again and stood in the away end, luckily on a sunny evening in East Devon.


The game kicked off with Exeter easily the better team as they looked faster on the ball and had brighter ideas with what to do with it. After some half chances earlier on, Exeter sparked into life mid-way through the half after Liam Sercombe broke away on the wing to send Bignall through who’s cross was just cleared by Gavin Williams before a proper goalscoring chance could materialize. Then a few minutes later Richard Logan missed a sitter from 12 yards after he side-footed the ball wide when it was easier to score. To make matters worse, Logan also pulled his hamstring and so had to be replaced by Guillem Bauza. The new Spanish signing hadn’t started this game due to fitness worries but seemed to be ok with his first few touches starting some good moves off. Exeter couldn’t find a way through and Yeovil were only lumping balls forward which on the whole, Exeter’s defence dealt with comfortably. My good run of goalscoring games looked under threat currently.


The 2nd half was a little more open as both sides went for an opener (which would more than likely be a winner) as Yeovil’s goalie, Jed Steer denied Bignall before Andy Williams got the Yeovil fans all excited as his shot had seemed to go in before everyone behind the goal realised it was the side netting rippling, and not the back. Yeovil had a wee spell though and from a corner had a header from Paul Huntington was cleared off the line. That was as good as it got for the Glovers though as on 63 minutes the home side finally got the opener they deserved. Yeovil lost the ball in midfield and Bignall ran at the Glovers defence and skipped past Paul Wotton and continued his run into the area before running straight into two Yeovil defenders before all were floored. The ball rolled out to Bauza on the left who took a couple of touches before smashing past Steer in front of the Big Bank to send the home fans into raptures and it looked there and then that Yeovil were a beaten team. They would have been just four minutes later when Sercombe blasted over when an open goal was there after good work from James Dunne. Inevitably, Yeovil launched late pressure but the Exeter goal was never really troubled and right on the final whistle, Exeter counter attacked and Tom Nichols crossed low to Chris Shephard who had an easy tap in to send Exeter through to Round 2. For the first time in 18 years.


Exeter were hoping for a great draw in R2 and low and behold, the lucky balls paired them with Premiership side Liverpool who will come to St James Park next week (when I am writing this). This game has also been slated for TV and so Exeter should get some excellent gate receipts and some TV money, so good for them. As for Yeovil, I wrote on Twitter right on the final whistle that my prediction for them going down seems to be right, although their 3-1 win over hapless Oldham in their next game will have given them some belief. Ironically, they also now have more points than Exeter who lost their 2nd league game 2-0 at home to MK Dons. As for the game, it was ok but took a while to get going but was an experience coming to St James Park as an “away fan”. That’s also the 3 Devon FL clubs (as of 2011/12!) having had blog visits as I slowly get ready for London clubs. Exeter City and Yeovil Town, we’ll meet again. Don’t know where, don’t know when…

Photos from Exeter City vs Yeovil Town


Match Ratings:

- Match: 5/10 (reasonable enough)

- Value for money: 4/10 (shame Exeter charged full league admission)

- Ground: 7.5 (great FL venue)

- Atmosphere: 5.5/10 (it wasn’t great)

- Food: N/A – was prewarned about the food “quality” – ate in city centre

- Programme: 6.5/10 (standard FL club effort – reasonable)

- Referee: Roger East – 6.5/10 (can’t remember too much of him)

Exeter v Yeo prog

exe ticket stub

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Ottery St Mary vs Exeter City XI (26/07/11)

Match 123

Ground #: 90

Ground: Washbrook Meadows

Competition: Pre-Season Friendly

Kick Off: 7:45pm

Cost: £2

Programme: With Admission

Attendance: 212 (h/c)

Ottery St Mary 0

Exeter City XI 5

Micklewright 5’, (pen) 20’, Reid 13’, 70’, Grimes 72’ 


With the pre-season friendly time of year, some can look actually quite appealing to go to. Combine that with another story behind the friendly, say a transfer clause between the two clubs or maybe in memory of somebody then that friendly becomes even more appealing. Enter then East Devon side Ottery St Mary. A team I had seen last season were 100 years old in 2011 and to celebrate this and add a game to this, they invited nearby Exeter City to send a team over for this “Centenary game”. I was there.


Ottery St Mary is is a town in the East Devon district, on the River Otter, about ten miles east of Exeter. The place-name 'Ottery St Mary' is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as 'Otri' and 'Otrei'. The town takes its name from the river Otter on which it stands, the river taking its name from the animal. The 'St Mary' element refers to the fact that the town belonged to the church of St Mary in Rouen in 1086. The town typically stages annual events around Guy Fawkes Night when, in a tradition dating from the 17th century, barrels soaked in tar are set alight and carried aloft through parts of the town by residents.


The town’s football club play on the Northern edge of the place in a large complex which seems to be all for football. The main pitch at Washbrook Meadows is actually a decent ground due to their old Western League days. Railed off all the way round and a good raised standing area next to the clubhouse in the corner, means you can get a decent view whereever you stand here. If you can’t stand (or just can’t be bothered) there is a seated stand (see pic above) straddled right on the half way line. It is thought that the stand was built in the 1920’s and bought second hand from Withycombe Rugby Club in Exmouth. Along with the stand, the Otters have a rich history stretching back from their founding in 1911. The furthest up they have been in the pyramid system came firstly in 1989/90 when the Otters won the Western League 1st Division and were promoted to the Premier before dropping back down to the Devon League in 1994/95. Their last success of any note was their Throgmorton Cup win that season.


Those days in the Western League however seem a long long time ago now as last season, down in the Southwest Peninsula League Division 1 East, the Otters slumped to a poor 13th place in that league. (Out of 16!) I also saw them once last season as the league’s worst defence were torn apart again by Exmouth Town who cruised to a 4-1 win. This season has seen a load of new players being brought in and a new manager who is Dave Weeks. If you watched the U-17s World Cup in Mexico over the summer, you may recognize Weeks as he was a part of the England coaching side that got to the Quarter-Finals. (The Otters actually warmed up in England kits for this game – excellent work from Weeks if he’s claimed some kits for Ottery)


They welcomed an Exeter City XI to this game which was made up entirely of the youth team. While this would have annoyed or disappointed some people, I was fully expecting it and quite happy to watch some up and coming players who could be playing in the Football League in a couple of seasons time. And, I had no knowledge of any of these players so was hoping that the quality would be good. Fair play to a good amount of Exeter fans too, as I had a rough count of 212 people who attended this game, with probably around 60% of them supporting Exeter. Hopefully a good amount of money was brought in for the Otters.


As for the game, it was men against boys. With the boys easily on top. In the 1st half, Ottery rarely attacked apart from in the first minute when Exeter’s left back, Jacob Wannell was caught well out of position but the chance came to nothing. The youth side only needed 5 minutes to take the lead when some excellent play down the left led to a cutback which found Jamie Micklewright who sidefooted past Matt Slark in the Otters goal. The Exeter side’s attacking strengths were too much for the Otters as when they won a free kick on the edge of the area, Jamie Reid rifled the ball into the bottom corner on 13 minutes and all 212 (roughly) people in the ground knew that the game was pretty much over. Exeter Youth though were using this as great preparation and so continued to attack attack attack. And were rewarded with a 3rd on 20 minutes when a great through ball put a striker on 1 on 1 and as Slark ran out, he completely took out the Exeter striker and it was a penalty. (No card was given – but if it was a competitive game, then it was probably only a yellow) Micklewright stepped up and easily dispatched the penalty to make it 3-0. There were no other goals in the 1st half, but that wasn’t for the lack of trying as Exeter played some really good stuff and deserved a lot more than 3. Jacob Cane alone hit the post twice as the Otters were just ripped apart.


The start of the 2nd half saw Ottery actually manage some attacks on the Exeter goal but goalie Jake Viney was more than comfortable with what was fired at him as Martin Loader had the best chance for the home side. It wasn’t long until the Ex XI started back up again though and before long it was one way traffic, albeit with slightly less intensity as the 1st half. They still scored another two goals though, firstly on 70 minutes when a ball from the left found its way to the back post where Jamie Reid volleyed straight in for a top finish. Two minutes later it was number 5 as Slark saved a long range effort but only spilled it out where Matt Grimes lashed home to complete the scoring.


A top evening of football as the Otters can still be proud of celebrating 100 years of football and forget about the 5-0 defeat in this game. Exeter Youth have some top players that could be making an appearance at a Football League game soon enough. Jacob Cane and Jamie Reid were the two that impressed me so good luck to them in their careers. Another pleasing aspect from the Exeter side was the lack of gob and constant questioning of the referee apart from Jacob Wannell who needed to keep his mouth shut. Although he was just frustrated at his poor performance. The Otters could finish slightly higher this time out and with a manager who seems to encourage good play rather than being a dictator (their old manager) they could have a decent season.

Photos from Ottery St Mary vs Exeter City XI


Match Ratings:

- Match: 6.5/10 (good attacking play)

- Value for money: 8/10 (good on Ottery for not overcharging)

- Ground: 6.5/10 (nice small town venue)

- Atmosphere: 4.5/10 (dribs and drabs)

- Food: 6/10 (decent enough cheeseburger – no pasties?)

- Programme: 7/10 (was free and had enough information – sorted)

- Referee: Dale Strawbridge – 6/10 (young ref did fine)

Image (3)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Season 11/12 predictions

PREVIOUS PREDICTION EFFORTS: 09/10 (here) and 10/11 (here)

With competitive football about to start (or in the case of Scotland already started) it’s time once again to make some dire football predictions and then look back in May/June and laugh at how bad I am before making the same mistakes for Euro 2012. I had written these predictions out before the last few days of recent events so have edited them slightly. Here we go…


PREMIERSHIP: Winner – Man Utd – Seems like an easy choice to make, but with other squads not strengthening as much as they’d like and Utd added some other dimension with Ashley Young and replacing an aging Ferdinand with Phil Jones they still look like the team to beat, sadly. Will that be enough to win in Europe? That’s a different matter altogether…

2nd – Chelsea – Andre Villas-Boas is an exciting appointment in my eyes. I can’t see him winning the league with this current squad, but a close run thing and then Roman opening that chequebook again to replace the oldies with young stars could see them really go for it in 2012/13.

3rd – Man City – Yes, they have unlimited spending power currently, yes they do have a decent squad but in the back of my mind, its still Manchester City. Perennial bottlers (1 FA Cup win is not that impressive). Much will depend on Aguero adapting to the Premiership straight away (and before people say, “but its Aguero!” – other top players have not cut it in English football). 3rd is the best I can see for them.

4th – Liverpool – Some ‘Pool fans are quietly suggesting they could challenge this season and I agree. Challenge for a Champions League spot, nothing else. The squad is not as good as the 3 teams above and while they did go on a good run at the end of last season, so did Everton, but nobody mentions that.

(5th – Arsenal, 6th Spurs)

Dark Horses (a team I feel that could surprise a lot and really be up there in their respective league) – Newcastle Utd – I do have to admit in the light of Joey Barton’s announcement yesterday and the subsequent outpouring of anger I read on Twitter from Newcastle fans, I was going to change this decision, but deep down I still feel they will be easily Top 10 this season and maybe even push for a cheeky Euro spot. Much will depend on Demba Ba'’s goals though.

Cart Horses (a team that on the otherhand will probably surprise people for the wrong reasons) – West Brom – If it were not for Peter Odemwingie’s goals West Brom would have probably gone down. That is how much they rely on him. Lose him to injury or a transfer and West Brom are gone.

Relegated – Blackburn Rovers – Some deluded owners, a poor side and a manager getting no support what so ever makes all the ingredients for a relegation season.

Norwich City – Don’t really understand Paul Lambert’s transfer policy this upcoming season. He signs players who are “hungry and wanting to succeed”. Fair enough, but in my eyes, Elliot Bennett, Steve Morison and Bradley Johnson are not good enough for this league. Short stay for them.

Swansea City – A hard choice, but I do remember hearing last season and the season before, Swansea’s problem (and why they never really challenged for automatic promotion) was scoring goals and killing teams off. This might not be a problem now, but for all their pretty football – some Premiership teams will smash through that and take 6 points from them this season. That means trouble.

CHAMPIONSHIP: Promoted – Leicester City – That’s right, I’m buying the hype. A lot of money is being splashed out at Leicester and now its time for Sven to deliver. With new signings Schmeichel, Matt Mills and Dave Nugent – they also have the squad to deliver too.

Burnley – If Eddie Howe does pull this off (which I believe he will) how long until a top top club come in for him? Keeping the spine of the squad that got that shock promotion a couple of seasons ago and strengthen it AND adopt his positive style of football, Burnley could be back in the big time quicker than they expected.

West Ham – Sam Allardyce knows that if West Ham don’t bounce back up in his 1st season, this could be his only season. I think they will go up, but probably through the play-offs.

Dark Horses – Hull City – New owners now at Hull which means boss Nigel Pearson will be expected to get them up the table. I haven’t heard many people say that Hull will finish higher than 10th, but I am one of them. A promotion tilt is on the cards in my eyes.

Cart Horses – Doncaster Rovers- A League 2 side punching massively above their weight in the Championship? Could be a tad unfair but after a promising start to life in the Championship, that seems to be slipping away now. A relegation battle looks a certainty.

Relegated – Watford – That’s right Watford, you replace the man who basically kept you in this division with a complete unknown. That’s a good start. Then sell your top scorer and other promising young players too. Even better! I’ll be stunned if Watford stay up this season.

Peterborough – We’ve been here before. (See my 09/10 predications) Newly promoted Peterboro’ under Darren Ferguson expected to do well. They can’t defend in League 1 so will get torn to shreds in this league. They also cannot fall back on the goals of Mackail-Smith to win games 4-3.

Derby County – Everybody knows, probably even Nigel himself, that if his surname wasn’t Clough, he’d have been sacked long ago. A team heading in one direction currently and that is down.

LEAGUE 1 – Promoted – Sheffield Wednesday – Ignoring the slightly bizarre PSF result of Alfreton Town 14 –0 Sheff Wed XI, the Wed do look good to go up. Spurred on to beat their lesser rivals David Prutton and Rob Jones look like two decent signings. It’s time to move forward now.

Leyton Orient – Many people’s tips for a dark horse but not me, I think they will be right up there this time and head into the Championship. Arguably the best front pairing in the division, the most settled side, a canny manager in Russell Slade and some FA Cup run money still to spend. I really do think it’s Orient’s year to shine.

Preston N.E – It took me 5 minutes to pick the 3rd promoted side in this league – mainly because of the lack of real quality about and the fact that I think Huddersfield are going to bottle it yet again. Preston need to rebuild, but do have a manager in Phil Brown that has gotten out of this division before, so the Deepdale based club get it.

Dark Horses – Hartlepool United – I see the raised eyebrows and the questions! Some strange, but equally excellent signings in Nobby Solano and Colin Nish have come in for this season and a side that is fairly ok anyway could have the Pool right in the play-off hunt.

Cart Horses – Notts County – Martin Allen. An enigma. A traitor. A weirdo. A top manager. Which one is the real Allen? This season we will find out. I feel though that County will be fighting a relegation battle for most of it due to their weak squad and lack of real money to add to it further.

Relegated – Rochdale – See Watford. Steve Eyre does have experience in coaching a major Premiership Academy I suppose but this season we will see how much Keith Hill really got out of his Dale squad. I think a lot more than Eyre will.

Bury – Having arguably a weaker squad than the previous season when they came up is not a recipe for success. Add to that another rookie manager and this could be a car crash of a season for the Shakers.

Yeovil Town – It always doesn’t look good for the little green men of Somerset and this season is no exception. Skiverton will have to use the loan market to the best of his ability again to stay up. I can’t see it.

Stevenage – When you watch Stevenage this season don’t expect pleasant football. Imagine a more sneaky Crawley Town per se. While they got away with that in League 2, L1 will be much harder for them. They will actually have to play some football this season, especially as the message spreads of their gamesmanship and teams and refs will wise up.

LEAGUE 2 – Promoted – Crawley Town – I won’t say much about them, but with all that money they should easily win this league this season. Wait until the money runs out though…

Bristol Rovers – Basis of a decent L1 side? Check. Good fan base for L2? Check. New manager in who can improve the side? Check. Some excellent signings to add to the squad? Check. Looks good.

Rotherham United – Keeping Le Fondre is top news for them and getting Andy Scott in who has won this league before is another inspired move.

Aldershot Town – Dean Holdsworth is starting to put together a very impressive CV for his management time. Taking Newport County up and then getting them into Top 8 of the Blue Square Premier is impressive. Pretty good squad with some added depth as well should see them up.

Dark Horses – AFC Wimbledon – Well it had to be, didn’t it!? Who knows how Terry Brown’s side will perform this season. The loss of top scorer Danny Kedwell is a blow, but teams will not get much from Kingsmeadow and if they get on a run, who knows?

Cart Horses – Bradford City – Bradford fans expecting a promotion challenge this season need to take a reality check. No money, a poor squad and stadium problems means the new ground they could be braking in the future will be away trips to Braintree and Hayes & Yeading. First ex Premiership team to be relegated to non league? They are the favourites.

Relegated – Macclesfield Town – Losing your top scorer and main attacking forces from an already small squad isn’t great. Doesn’t look good for them.

Burton Albion – The news is out about Burton – they aren’t that good. Seemingly now on a downward spiral – relegation back to the Blue Square looks a real possibility this coming season.

SCOTLAND – Top 2 – 1st – Celtic, 2nd – Rangers. Celtic will surely win the league at a canter this season. A better squad and more chances to add to it means Lennon may finally achieve what he set out to do. 2 seasons late.

The rest – 3rd – Dundee Utd, 4th – Motherwell, 5th – Hearts, 6th – Hibs, 7th – ICT, 8th – Aberdeen, 9th – St Mirren, 10th – St Johnstone, 11th – Dunfermline, 12th – Kilmarnock. I have changed this order a lot over the past couple of weeks and then rejigged it even further after last nights farcical news at Tynecastle. That’s how I see the SPL this season!

If you read this and think I’m wrong (and let’s be honest, probably all of you do) then leave a comment with your choices! Let’s have a cracking season of football.