Exeter's listless performance leaves Tisdale with much cause to ponder
Paul Tisdale was not happy with the performance of his Exeter City side after watching them slip to a disappointing 2-0 npower League Two defeat at Bristol Rovers on Wednesday.
The Grecians fell behind when goalkeeper Artur Krysiak let an Oliver Norburn long-range effort squirm through his legs and into the net, before Lee Brown put the gloss on a deserved win for the home side with a brilliant second goal eight minutes from full-time.
All round, it was a night to forget for the Grecians, who barely created a chance, and Tisdale felt his side had lacked quality when going forward.
"It was a disappointing evening and a below-par performance," the City manager said. "Rovers deserved their win based on how we played and they worked very hard.
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"They didn't deserve the first goal, but that changed everything. Goals do change the flow of the game and it was very hard to recover from such a poorly conceded goal.
"I think the first 20 minutes was very average from both sides. I thought we looked OK, we didn't show much ambition going forward, or enough quality in our build-up to get into attacking areas and they showed little ambition either.
"The goal came out of nothing and at that point, I was comfortable with how we were doing because I knew we could pick it up and I could engineer the game to give us more of a chance. But it was a shocking goal to give away and, at that point, their resolve intensified, the purpose became very clear for them and our game became muddied."
Indeed, very little had happened before Krysiak's error. The Polish shot-stopper was at fault for Rovers' winner in the League Two meeting at St James' Park earlier this season, but, aside from that, he has been in superb form for Exeter this campaign.
"It is likely to happen to a goalkeeper every now and then, we just hope it doesn't happen as blatantly as that," Tisdale added. "But anything can happen with a goalkeeper and it will completely distort his game, or opinions of his game when he makes such a mistake.
"It is unfortunate for him, he has been in very good form, but we have to trust him and we go on to the next game."
One positive for Exeter to take from the game was another encouraging display from Jake Gosling. The midfielder's half-time introduction certainly improved the Grecians, as did that of fellow half-time substitute Jimmy Keohane.
"I have to say that the two boys that came on, Jake Gosling and Jimmy Keohane at half-time, both added to our performance just after half-time, but it wasn't enough to get us back in the game," Tisdale added.
"We have to hope that the players in and around the squad can add something. It is a big part of the season that we are in and we are making substitutions and putting young boys in.
"At the moment, Jake Gosling is showing that he is good enough. But he is a little untested and I am still learning as I see him with the decisions that he makes, but at the moment, he is doing pretty well.
"It's a difficult month, but everyone that is being used has to contribute and both Jake and Jimmy contributed when they came on."
Midfielder Tommy Doherty and striker John O'Flynn – making his first start since the 1-1 derby draw at Torquay on January 15 – were the two players that made way, but in truth, there were a number of others who could easily have been hauled off, so bad were Exeter in the first half.
"We needed to respond to being a goal down. They scored with 23 minutes gone and I wanted to see how we would respond to going a goal down, but we didn't really do a lot," Tisdale admitted.
"There is one thing being patient and another showing intent and I don't think we showed enough intent.
"I didn't take off the two worst players on the pitch, I took off two that allowed me to make a tactical change and whether it worked or not, well, it certainly worked for ten minutes.
"John O'Flynn had done nothing wrong to come off and Tommy has been struggling with his back, and it seemed the right time to bring him out," Tisdale explained.
City will have little time to regroup before they return to action again with a trip to Fleetwood Town tomorrow. The players were given yesterday morning off and will head to Lancashire today, stopping en route at Lilleshall for their one training session between games.
"It's not easy and we won't spend any time at the Cat and Fiddle between now and Saturday," Tisdale said. "It means we have to chalk the game, recover and get ready for a long trip, but we are used to those long trips and that will not count as an excuse."
The Grecians' Devon St Luke's Challenge Cup semi-final against Plymouth Argyle will be played at Home Park on Tuesday, April 9 (7.30pm).