Exeter City overcome injury crisis in hunt for top-three finish
EXETER City manager Paul Tisdale says he sees no reason why Exeter City can't finish in the automatic promotion places this season after watching his side overcome a midfield injury crisis to thrash League Cup finalists Bradford City 4-1.
City's went into Saturday's game without Matt Oakley after the central midfielder had dislocated his shoulder four days earlier in the 0-0 draw with Gillingham.
Having already lost Tommy Doherty, Alan Gow and Liam Sercombe for the foreseeable future, it meant Tisdale had to put together a make-shift paring of Mark Molesley and Scot Bennett in midfield, with new loan signing Lawson D'Ath playing just in front.
And while it was a great team performance from City on Saturday it was Bennett, D'Ath and Molesley who impressed the most.
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"It was a very good day for us for two reasons," said Tisdale. "Firstly, it was nice to beat such a good team – Bradford are one of the best teams we have faced at St James's Park this season – and secondly we had a new signing coming in for Matt Oakley and the whole team reacted very well to that.
"The midfield of Mark Molesley and Scot Bennett playing together as a pair were very, very competitive.
"They were very tough and they were aided by the quick-thinking of Lawson D'Ath, who was making his debut, and Jake Gosling and Arron Davies who were all very bright to the ball and quick to the breakdown.
"There is still a long way to go though and still four or five teams chasing those automatic promotion spots.
"Someone is probably going to have to win four or five games to win a spot but we are certainly still in there.
"There is no reason why it can't be us, but I am sure other teams in the division will be thinking the same thing too."
It was another in-form player, Craig Woodman, who helped give City the lead in the 11th minute when he swung over a corner towards the back post.
Matt Duke, who had only just been recalled to the Bradford starting line-up, palmed the ball onto his post, where it cannoned out of the goal but back into the net off his head.
Bradford had chances to draw level, but City extended their lead when Gosling's cross was deflected onto D'Ath at the far post and he nodded home on his debut.
A frustrated Bradford boss Phil Parkinson made changes at the break, bringing on Kyle Reid and Zavon Hines and switching to a 4-4-2 formation.
Reid was particularly impressive setting up James Hanson with a couple of golden opportunities, which he spurned.
Reid did pull a goal back with 11 minutes to go when his corner got a deflection at the near post on its way straight into the net.
But as soon as Bradford had given themselves hope of a comeback it was extinguished by Bennett, who having been set up by O'Flynn on the edge of the box, hit a deflected shot past Matt Duke.
It was then left to the impressive Molesley to race in on goal a minute from time and slide a pass to the back post where O'Flynn was left with a simple tap in from a couple of yards out.