Just days after ejection from Carabao Cup
Exeter City were dominant if a little toothless early on in this FA Cup first round match against Wigan, with calm and direct passing play to which a somewhat weakened away side had little response.
Yanic Wildschut had an early chance when he slipped behind Latics right back Sean Clare to collect a long ball from skipper Will Aimson and whip a shot into the side netting from a tight angle. There were headed chances for two of Exeter’s backline as Hartridge sent a free header wide of Sam Tickle’s right hand post before Zak Jules saw his effort scrambled off the line by the Wigan keeper.
When Wigan did come forward it was on the break . Norwegian midfielder Thelo Asgaard had a shot blocked by Harry Kite, and City keeper Vils Silisano tipped a long-range effort over from Stephen Humphries.
The home side peppered the Wigan box with crosses, but as has been common of late there was not enough of a presence in front of goal to convert intricate build up play to shots on target. [break up?] There was a difficult call for referee Craig Hicks as City’s Harry Kite swiped at Martial Godo who was closing in on goal, sending him skidding across the greasy turf. Kite was only shown a yellow, much to the anger of the travelling fans.
James Scott may well have confirmed the Grecians fans poor opinions of him, with a variety of misplaced passes and heavy touches. His most poignant error was the scuffing of a chance high up into the Big Bank after a neat cut back from Wildschut left him with space in front of goal. The game ebbed and flowed with half chances for both, and Wigan capitalised first, Asgaard tapping home after Sinisalo parried a Jordan Jones shot into his path. City Centre-Back Pierce Sweeney was perhaps at fault, having given Jones enough time and space to take the initial shot. Asgaard nearly made it two in two minutes with a volley that beat Sinisalo and shaved the top of the crossbar from a wide angle
Exeter gaffer Gary Caudwell, serving a touchline ban for three yellow cards this season, was still able to implement a dramatic change in style from a position high up in the Gantry, swapping ball-playing ability in Zak Jules for a classic big-man-up-top in Admiral Muskwe, as short neat passes were dropped in favour of crosses from the flanks.
City did at least have the better of the play from then on, but made very little of it, the only chance of note being Jack Aitchson’s rash snatch at a shot which spun well wide of the post.Exeter had dominated possession stats, but there is no accounting for moments of brilliance and there was very little that Sinisalo could have done to stop Stephen Sessegnon’s perfectly struck 40-yard strike which kissed the crossbar and rolled down the back of the net. Stoppage time petered out, as desperate long balls were misplaced and when speculative crosses were pumped into the boxthey went unmet .
Exeter will feel hard done by, given the extent to which they dominated, but their sloppiness in front of goal cannot be excused. This inability to put the ball in the back of the net needs rectifying if they want to stop slipping down the league and bring back more fans to SJP. Saturday’s attendance was worryingly low at just 3,500; down around 2,000 on last week's League Two match. Hopefully a dismally wet afternoon may have kept spectators away. We'll know more when Peterborough arrive for the next home match on Saturday 18 November.
Final score: Exeter City 0 Wigan Athletic 2