Keohane's winner helps Exeter City equal away record
Footballers are not always viewed favourably by members of the general public so, when you see one so dedicated to his profession beginning to make his way in the game, it is a pretty heartening sight to see.
Jimmy Keohane is exactly that. The young Irishman bagged his first professional goal on Saturday, the winner in Exeter City's 2-1 victory at York City, the Grecians' ninth win on their travels in npower League Two this season.
It has been a long time coming for Keohane, who signed for the club after his release by Bristol City in the summer of 2011. Not until now has the 21-year-old enjoyed a prolonged spell in the first team but, with Liam Sercombe out injured, it seems he is set to benefit most from his team-mate's misfortune.
To be fair to Keohane, no one deserves it more. Last season as Exeter were relegated from League One, he was regularly seen on the training field working on his game and looking to improve as many of his team-mates were heading for home. He would spend an age working on his free-kicks and shooting with coach Andy Tillson, and it seems he is now beginning to reap the rewards of his hard work and dedication.
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It is too early to say that Keohane will go far in the game, but if he continues to develop at this rate and maintain that work ethic, he is giving himself every chance. Although he is a different type of player, Keohane reminds me of Jamie Mackie, who was equally as dedicated, hard working and determined. Those traits did him no harm, as he is now an established Premier League performer.
Of course, Keohane still has much to learn, but the early signs are good. Even before this regular inclusion in the team, he has shown glimpses of his potential when called upon, such as the home game against Wycombe Wanderers, when he set up all three of Exeter's goals.
On Saturday, Keohane was at it again with the winning goal and it was also he that played the ball that led to Exeter's opening goal. It was intended as a pass for John O'Flynn, but York's Alex Rodman got there first and blasted the ball past his own goalkeeper with O'Flynn waiting to apply the final touch.
However, while Keohane will take many plaudits for his match-winning contribution, this latest win away from home was again down to a real team effort. Artur Krysiak continued his fine form with another dominant performance and he was ably assisted by a defence happy to do the necessary and defend their penalty box well.
The midfield were hard working and efficient allowing Keohane and Alan Gow space in which to play, while O'Flynn ran his heart out for the cause and deserved a goal for his efforts. Instead, he will have to contend with the consolation that Exeter's goal at Wycombe has been awarded to him by the Football League's dubious goals panel.
However, perhaps the biggest factor of this win was the tactical masterstroke pulled off by Paul Tisdale at half-time. Unhappy that Matt Oakley was spending too much time on the left side of midfield and noting that Steve Tully was often exposed by York, he withdrew Tommy Doherty and replaced him with Kevin Amankwaah.
Doherty was by no means playing poorly, but someone had to be sacrificed and, with a lack of action under his belt in the last few months, he was an obvious choice. The move allowed Oakley to dictate the midfield in the second half and Amankwaah to double up with Tully and nullify York's most obvious threat. Exeter looked far more solid, with York rarely threatening to get back into the game after Keohane's 53rd-minute winner.
It was a different story in the first half, though, as the Minstermen showed a great work ethic of their own. They were quick to close down and win the ball, and posed danger in the form of Jason Walker, Patrick McLaughlin and Matty Blair.
The home side started well and McLaughlin was twice off target from distance before the Grecians struck on the counter on 14 minutes. Gow won possession and sent Keohane free. The referee played the advantage as Gow took his now customary whack and Keohane showed great speed and skill by running at the heart of the defence. O'Flynn ran across him, leaving Keohane with the option of shooting or slipping in his fellow Irishman. He attempted the latter but, with O'Flynn ready to pull the trigger, Rodman slid in and hammered the ball past Michael Ingham in the York goal.
Parity was restored five minutes later when Krysiak saved from Blair, but Michael Potts was on hand to score the rebound.
Despite their dominance, York could not take advantage, although City defended well in the main with the home side not really creating any decent openings.
Keohane's second-half goal then led to a period of Exeter dominance, with the youngster setting up O'Flynn, whose shot was saved by Ingham.
York's best chance of an equaliser fell to Blair, who lobbed wide of goal when clean through, while O'Flynn slotted an effort wide in stoppage time as Exeter again hit the home side on the counter.
The full-time whistle signalled a fifth straight win away from home for Tisdale's troops, the first time that has happened since 1977. Then, the Grecians won their last four away games of the 1976-77 campaign on their way to promotion from Division Four and the first two in August the following season.