Southend 2-2 Exeter City: 3 things we learned

1. We are a lucky, lucky team

I’m quite honestly surprised that we managed to come away from this one with a point. After a brilliant defensive display last week against Cambridge, we conceded another two soft goals and gave ourselves all the work to do.

I said on the podcast this week that we look good to score two goals a game at the moment but after that performance we’ve gone straight back to looking like a banker to concede two goals a game. We never really looked like scoring after going 2-1 down and it’s only down to a moment of brilliance from Alex Fisher that we’ve got anything to show from the game at all.

Alex Fisher and Archie Collins celebrate last minute equaliser. All photo rights belong to PPA and Exeter City FC.

2. Dugout Dilemmas

It was a mixed afternoon for Matt Taylor in the dug out. With the link up play between Joel Randall and Matt Jay looking like our most threatening combination in the second half, the City boss left plenty of fans scratching their heads when MJ’s number was held aloft by the fourth official. Not only did the Grecians lose Jay’s flair in attack but moving Randall into a more central position stifled his ability r o attack the full back which he had done successfully to that point.

Whilst some might say that strange substitutions are straight from his predecessors playbook, Taylor did redeem himself with the addition of eventual goal scorer Alex Fisher, coming on for the increasingly marmite figure of Ryan Bowman. Fisher’s looping effort in the 95th minute bailed City out of a loss against the Shrimpers but I think that Taylor will have learned a lot from what was a tough day in the dugout.

Bowman warms up ahead of game. All image rights belong to PPA and Exeter City FC.

3. Jekyll and Hyde

In a podcast earlier in the summer, I likened City’s then top scorer Ryan Bowman as a Jekyll and Hyde figure for the Grecians and he’s seemingly living up to the title once again.

In the past two weeks, we’ve seen some of the best and the worst of Ryan Bowman. I thought his performance against Cambridge in the 2-0 victory was one of the worst I had seen in a City shirt. He simply didn’t look at the races, his movement was not at the standard he’s shown that it can be and he failed to even get off the ground for headers he would have been hitting on target last season. This of course culminated in the almost calamitous chance five yards out from goal where he trapped the ball beneath his feet rather than simply striking home the cross put on a plate for him by Joel Randall.

The performance that Bowman turned in against Southend however was vastly improved. Remarkably, the assist that he provided for Joel Randall was his first since arriving in Exeter in January 2019. His movement and touch looked much better and he was causing an issue for the opposition defenders in the first half.

It’s no secret that Bowman should already be in the scoresheet this season; he has spurned chances that you’d expect a striker playing for a side pushing for promotion to put away. Does this mean that he’s not good enough to play at this level? No, he’s already proved that he can do a job for a League Two side. That doesn’t mean however that he’s facing stiff competition from strikers behind him in the depth chart. Alex Fisher made a pretty clear statement of intent in the brief cameo that he made in Essex at the weekend. It’s now up to Matt Taylor to decide whether to stick with Bowman and hope that he can play through his goal drought to establish a run of form or whether to switch to the “hot hand” and give one of the other strikers in his arsenal the opportunity to nail down a claim in the starting line up.

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