Exeter rewarded for their patience with a welcome victory on home turf
Paul Tisdale felt that patience paid off in Exeter City's 2-0 win over Accrington Stanley on Friday.
An uninspiring game burst into life on 78 minutes when substitute Jimmy Keohane opened the scoring after some neat build up play from Arron Davies and Tommy Doherty.
Danny Coles sliced a clearance against his own crossbar moments later, but Keohane ensured there was no more home disappointment for the St James' Park faithful with a second nine minutes from full-time.
Up until that point, Exeter had struggled to create much in the way of goalscoring chances and neither had Accrington. But at this stage of the season, points are far more important that performances and the win – following Saturday's results – saw Exeter climb to fifth in the npower League Two table.
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"It's a home win and that is what it was all about," Tisdale said. "Patience comes in many forms, it's keeping your nerve as time ticks on and it is also keeping your nerve when you are in possession of the ball and being patient when the opposition have the ball.
"I asked them at half-time just to relax. That is easier said than done, of course, but they just needed to take their time. "The players were too eager to get up the field and then we were too eager to get back and defend as well, but who can blame the chaps when they are so desperate to win?
"Sometimes you need to get on a roll and hopefully that can set us on our way.
"I didn't mind how we won. We had that scare when the ball hit the bar at 1-0 and I thought maybe this is our day. We have had enough this season where we have played well and a mistake or something has gone against us and we haven't finished the job. That was nicely accepted by me.
"I don't know how many games we have played since the turn of the year, but it is still only one goal conceded from open play, so long may that continue."
Tisdale decided to hand a full debut to winger Jake Gosling, the latest in a long line of youngsters to have been given their first-team opportunity by the City chief. "He believes he is a first-team player and you can see that in the way he plays and that is very much a prerequisite of coming through," Tisdale said.
"You have to believe it when you are breaking through and he certainly does that.
"He looks bright and he has probably been due this opportunity for a number of weeks, ever since he got back from Dorchester, and I had decided a few weeks ago that I would play him in this game.
"He didn't know about it until Friday night, but it was nice to give him a chance, he showed a few nice touches and he will get even more confidence with it, and I think he will be even more confident next time."
Indeed, Gosling came back from his Dorchester Town loan spell as something of a hero after netting the winning goal for the Magpies in a televised FA Cup first-round encounter with Plymouth Argyle. That – and the simple fact he was playing men's football – has certainly helped to smooth a few rough edges in the youngster's game.
"It was extremely beneficial," Tisdale added. "That's why we send these players out on loan. We have Elliott Chamberlain out on loan at Bath City, Elliott Frear at Salisbury, and that's the whole point. When I look at players like George Friend and Danny Seaborne, they have all gone out and come back and broken through. Hopefully Jake Gosling will be another one of those players."
However, it was Keohane who earned all the plaudits on Friday night. The Irishman is fast establishing himself as a key member of Tisdale's squad, but his impact as a substitute with 25 minutes to go on Friday certainly changed the game.
"If Jimmy had started, then he might not have scored two," Tisdale said. "I really don't mind who scored the goals. I changed the side after last Saturday, and I had no qualms in doing so – you know me by now.
"I wanted to give Jake Gosling a start because it is always important that we give them a chance. Then we had Jimmy coming on for 25 minutes to go with that energy.
"He is improving all the time and coming to terms with the tough parts and he has waded in with two goals as well and both goals were very well taken and very well created as well."
City's next fixture is a trip to third-placed Burton Albion on Saturday.