Exeter City left frustrated as home woes continue
EXETER City missed the chance to move back into the automatic promotion places in League Two on Monday night as they fell to a disappointing seventh home defeat of the season against Torquay United.
The match mirrored much of the Devon derby the sides had played out 13 days earlier at Plainmoor as a below-par first-half performance saw the Grecians trail to an early penalty from Rene Howe.
And despite improving in the second half and raining down a number of shots on visiting keeper Michael Poke, the Gulls hung on to claim a valuable first win of 2013.
It left City manager Paul Tisdale frustrated at the final whistle, even if he didn't see too much wrong with the performance.
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"Of course it is frustrating, but we didn't do too much wrong," he said. "I thought we played pretty well, I would have wanted one or two more patient decisions in the second half especially.
"I would have wanted the players to be a little bit more pragmatic and take more passes and to keep the shape a bit more, but they got dragged into the anxiety again of a home performance and the crowd are finding it difficult to cope with being a goal down and the players I thought didn't deal with that particularly well.
"They should have relaxed and we were certainly good enough to create chances and we did. I would have been upset if we didn't work the goalkeeper, but we did. We forced a dozen or more corners and we delivered those corners pretty well."
City fell behind in the 17th minute when Billy Bodin worked his way into the box on the left-hand side.
Former Gull Steve Tully made an error in trying to win the ball from behind and clipped the heels of the Welsh under-21 international to give away what Tisdale described as a 'very poor' penalty.
After that, City created the better first-half openings, with Jimmy Koehane going close on two occasions – once when a close range shot blocked, and again when he fired inches wide from the edge of the box.
However, Torquay were not without their chances and should have arguably wrapped the game up early in the second half when Danny Stevens and Howe both fired into the side netting when in promising positions.
Sensing the match slipping away from the Grecians, Tisdale made two attack-minded substitutions, bringing on leading scorer Jamie Cureton and striker partner Guillem Bauza for midfield debutant Mark Molesley and partnerTommy Doherty.
The changes gave City renewed focus up front as they switched from a 4-5-1 to a 4-3-1-2 formation. They forced a number of corners that saw Danny Coles and Bauza go close.
Torquay's Poke was also forced to make a full-stretch save to stop Ryan Jarvis heading into his own net.
A couple of half chances then fell to Cureton, but he found Poke in equally good form as the keeper superbly tipped one of his efforts around the post.
As a result Torquay managed to hang onto a crucial three points, which breathes new life into their own promotion hopes whilst frustratingly putting a dent into those of City.