League Two Gameweek Seven: Another Narrow Exeter Win?5 min read
Carlisle United and Exeter City have had some thrilling battles in recent years.
A whopping 30 goals have been scored in the last nine meetings between these sides, including an epic Play-Off showdown in 2017.
Will sparks fly again?
Carlisle’s mixed start
In flashes, Carlisle United have been outstanding.
With Nathan Thomas’ dribbling from the right and Harry McKirdy’s pace from the left, the Cumbrians have opened teams up very well – the 3-0 EFL Cup victory at Championship side Barnsley was an example of just how good they can be at their best.
And yet, Steven Pressley’s side have not quite been able to uphold high standards: the fact they have lost four games so far this season in all competitions shows there is still work to be done.
Pressley praised centre-backs Nat Knight-Percival and Byron Webster for their performances in last week’s 1-0 win at Scunthorpe; and it’s hard to argue with that, given his side kept a clean sheet.
However, their opponents missed plenty of headers in the penalty area and fired off-target from decent positions so one questions, against a team playing with more confidence or quality, would Carlisle’s efforts have got them the same result? Possibly not.
Pressley at least can take some heart from his side’s second half display – especially the contributions of his substitutes.
Ryan Loft, a striker on loan from Leicester, bullied defenders in a way that Elias Sorensen struggled to – and Mo Sagaf was fearless in terms of running at defenders in a game in which usual suspects Thomas and McKirdy were unusually off-colour.
United's bench up in unison to celebrate as Loft gives them the lead. The sub has given Carlisle a more physical, aerial presence against Scunthorpe's centre-halves and that was a factor in how United got through to score. #cufc
— Jon Colman (@joncolman) August 31, 2019
Exeter top of the table
Exeter City beat Mansfield 1-0 last time out, even without Nicky Law, who picked up an injury, unusually, through how he slept.
The ex-Bradford man’s absence meant Exeter’s midfield had to be tight and competitive, without the star quality that Law provides.
With Law available, manager Matt Taylor has usually opted for a 4-2-2-2 setup with both wide men at times overloading one flank; he then tends to change it to 4-2-3-1 by bringing on Lee Martin for a striker, which has tended to have a positive impact and contribute to important, late goals.
Without Law, Taylor favoured a 3-5-2 with Matt Jay, a striker by trade, acting as part of the midfield next to Jake Taylor and Archie Collins.
Luckily for the Grecians, they got their opener early on through Ryan Bowman and therefore needed to merely protect their lead.
They did so, thanks to the brilliance of centre-back and skipper Dean Moxey, a unanimous choice for man-of-the-match.
#ecfc Well done, good team effort. Dean Moxey MOTM for me. Pity that 2nd goal never happened to calm the nerves.?
— Peter Hales (@ExeterArsena) August 31, 2019
Moxey and Pierce Sweeney, who operated either side of Aaron Martin in the back-three, are comfortable on the ball, having played as full-backs for long spells of their careers.
Picking attack-minded players like Randell Williams and Jack Sparkes as wing-backs was a risk for Taylor, but clearly he made it work without compromising defensive balance; their opponents did not manage a single shot on target all afternoon – seven of their nine efforts had to be taken from outside the area.
By maintaining their shape so well, the Devon outfit managed a fourth league victory of the campaign and a third by the 1-0 scoreline.
Because Exeter appear to operate on fine margins – they have only drawn or won with a one-goal lead thus far in the league – we are backing them with insurance.
Betting on an Exeter win via the ‘Draw No Bet’ option means our stake will be returned if the game ends honours even.
Exeter to win: draw no bet