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Exeter’s resilience in come-from-behind away win impresses boss Gary Caldwell

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 1 Apr 2024

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Gary Caldwell praised Exeter’s resilience after his team came from behind to win 2-1 at relegation-threatened Cheltenham in Sky Bet League One.

The home side opened the scoring through Ben Williams early in the second half, but Luke Harris levelled five minutes later and Reece Cole won it from the penalty spot in the final minute.

“The players were outstanding after going a goal down and then coming back to win,” Caldwell said.

“The players worked it out in the end and scored a fantastic first goal.

“At half-time I thought that if it was a boxing match it would’ve been stopped.

“It’s three big points away from home. We now have five huge games and we’ll need everyone.

“The fans never stopped singing. It was great to hear them singing songs for different players and they got their reward.”

Exeter were the better side by some distance during a first half played in heavy rain.

Mo Eisa was close to scoring against his old club in the fourth minute, racing through on goal and slotting past Luke Southwood, only for his shot to trickle just wide, before Ryan Woods forced Southwood into a good save in the 22nd minute.

Cheltenham made a double substitution at half-time and also adapted their formation and it quickly paid off.

Will Ferry found Sean Long and his cross was nodded in by Williams six minutes after he joined the action.

Harris levelled for Exeter five minutes later, receiving Tom Carroll’s pass and applying an expert finish in front of the 1,522 travelling fans.

The hosts nearly regained their lead in the 73rd minute when Joe Nuttall’s header from Liam Sercombe’s cross was parried but Ferry could not force the ball over the line from close range.

And Exeter won it at the end when Lewis Freestone handled Ryan Woods’ shot in the box and Cole made no mistake from the spot.

Caldwell explained: “Reece had a back problem and didn’t train yesterday. He took a lot of pain killers and still barely made the bench.

“I’m not someone who designates a penalty taker. I believe if someone feels confident enough, they should take it.

“You wouldn’t want anyone else other than Reece to score an unstoppable penalty in the bottom corner.”

Cheltenham boss Darrell Clarke was not happy about some of the decisions that went against his team.

“I am not going to say a lot about the officials, but I’ve let my feelings be known on his performance,” Clarke said.

“What can the lad do if the ball is blasted against him from three yards away? It’s a ridiculous decision and I don’t get it.

“It’s just not acceptable to put in a performance like that and I am very, very disappointed for my boys.

“It was a good response in the second half after we changed things tactically and we looked a much better team in the second half so we are disappointed to come away with nothing.”

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