Writer: Rich Towey
Date:Tuesday March 1 2011
St James Park
Liam Sercombe`s second-half equaliser prevented a new-look Tranmere side of all three points away from home.
Zoumana Bakayogo took advantage of a slip from Grecians keeper Ben Hamer to give Rovers the lead on 16 minutes, and plenty of chances went begging before the hosts eventually drew level.
As expected, there were changes made to the side that were defeated against Yeovil on Saturday, with certain players lining up in their secondary positions. Michael Kay was replaced by Robbie Weir- a centre midfielder by trade- at right-back, whilst left-back Bakayogo shook off an injury to take a place on the left side of Rovers` three up front, with Lucas Akins dropping to the bench. Finally, Andy Robinson took Weir`s place in the midfield to make up the 11.
The away side stormed out of the blocks, and an Aaron Cresswell free-kick almost gave them the lead in the first minute had it not been for a fine save from Grecians keeper Hamer, with Robinson further testing Hamer from the resulting corner.
Off target attempts from Ryan Harley and Jamie Cureton at the other end allowed Exeter to break down the Whites attacking play temporarily, while Cureton forced a save out of Tony Warner on 12 minutes. But the home side were dealt with a blow when Hamer slipped in his area, allowing Bakayogo to fire in his first goal for the club.
Rovers went forward again straight after the goal, and when a long-ball from Robinson found its way into the path of Cresswell, the left-back had an opportunity to swing in one of his trademark curling crosses. The ball was headed clear, but Lateef Elford-Alliyu raced onto the loose ball to trouble Hamer from a shot outside of the area.
Exeter had few chances to really draw level before half-time, with most of their attacking play coming from out wide in the form of the elusive Harley. Several of the winger`s crosses were dealt with by the Whites centre-back pairing of Mark McChrystal and Ian Goodison, with the latter doing well to head out from a particularly dangerous looking ball on 28 minutes.
Troy Archibald- Henville should have hit the target with a header that was lifted over the bar as the game approached half-time, but Tranmere did well to keep out any danger by striking balls upfield, and when the whistle sounded, they went into the tunnel with the lead still intact.
Although the hosts made two changes up front with Daniel Nardiello and Richard Logan joining the action, the start of the second-half saw Rovers continue to pile on the pressure. Cresswell went close with a shot from just outside the area after Elford-Alliyu`s initial attempt was blocked, while Robinson`s forward runs were creating havoc for the Exeter midfield.
More chances went begging for the Whites before they were eventually made to pay when the hosts equalised on 65 minutes. Elford-Alliyu had a goal-bound shot blocked by David Noble on 55 minutes, and another attack soon after saw a chance go begging to add a second. Bakayogo ran into the Exeter half and found Robinson in the penalty area, only for the former Swansea man to be brought down and adjudged to have dived. Minutes later Exeter countered- racing forward, a shot from Harley that was initially blocked by Goodison fell to Sercombe, who buried from six-yards out.
A similar move five minutes later almost gave the home side the lead when Harley`s shot deflected off Bakayogo and, once again, found its way to Sercombe in the area, only for the midfielder`s shot to be blocked.
There were few attempts for both sides to gather all three points, with Robinson`s effort from outside of the area missing its target on 85 minutes. But a goal-line clearance by Cresswell from a Cureton was much needed- leading to the game ending all square.
Exeter: Hamer, Tully, Archibald-Henville, Taylor, Golbourne, Sercombe, Noble, Dunne (Logan 45 HT), Harley, Cureton, O'Flynn (Nardiello 45 HT). Substitutes not used: Duffy, Krysiak, Edwards, Stewart, Cozic.
Tranmere: Warner, Weir, McChrystal, Goodison, Cresswell, Welsh, Taylor, Robinson, Elford-Alliyu, Showunmi, Bakayogo. Substitutes not used: Collister, Cathalina, Wood, Kay, Blanchard, McGurk, Akins.
Referee: Simon Hooper
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Date:Tuesday March 1 2011
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