Exeter 1-1 Taunton: 3 Things we Learned

1. Defensive Woes

We might only be two games into pre-season but it looks like the Grecians have picked up where they left off… conceding goals.

Okay, that’s a really cynical take, but for all the talk of pre-season being about fitness and performance, Matt Taylor will undoubtedly be disappointed at both the timing and the manner of the goals his side have conceded. In 180 minutes, Exeter are yet to lead a game this pre-season and the new centre-back partnership of Rory McArdle and Tom Parkes have looked nervous at times, especially early on in games. It may be a case of familiarity (or lack thereof) but Taylor will be keen to iron out the mistakes before the season starts on 12th September.

2. Firing Blanks

Matt Taylor has a number of options available to him upfront this season… so why oh why is he persisting with a Bowman/Fisher partnership?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that both strikers have something to offer the side and on their day can provide a stern test for opposition defences and Fisher looked dominant in the final half hour against Taunton. I cant help but think that the two target-man approach just doesn’t seem to work however, with either one of the pairing going missing from the game for large spells. Meanwhile, the likes of Matt Jay and Nicky Ajose sit on the bench, with Ben Seymour knocking on the door. Taylor has plenty of options at his disposal and I hope that by the time the season starts, we see a more dynamic striking partnership.

3. The Key to Success?

After raising eyebrows with his performance against Bristol Rovers in Exeter’s first pre-season friendly, Josh Key was given the opportunity to start against Taunton and didn’t fail to impress again.

Key looked lively in the opening exchanges and despite struggling to beat his man on a couple of occasions, took up threatening positions and combined pace with a crisp touch to cause Taunton issues on the wing. With the majority of the Grecian’s attacks coming down the right hand side in the first half, Key started to impose himself on the Peacock’s defence and gave more reasons for City fans to be excited about his development in the first team this season.

League Two sides as NFL teams

As the start of the new football league season barrels toward us, so does the resumption of the NFL, the most financially lucrative league in all of sport. American Football is determined to push on and start the new season no matter how many coronavirus hurdles they have to sweep to one side in order to get there. So it got me thinking, if League Two sides were in the NFL, which sides would they be?

If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, wonder no more as all your questions have ben answered in the following mashups…

Barrow/Washington Football Team

Barrow AFC are a new face to League Two this season, having last been a league football side back in the 70s but kicked out in controversial circumstances. Controversy is something not unfamiliar to Washington too. Like Barrow, they are a new team of sorts in the NFL this season, having changed their name this summer to retire the formerly offensive team branding.

The Bolton Chiefs

Despite Bolton’s success on the field varying somewhat to the experience enjoyed by the Kansas City Chiefs, like the Chiefs, Ian Evatt’s side are favourites to finish top o the pile this season. Bolton have mirrored the Superbowl winners in other ways too, giving Eoin Doyle a big money, long term contract this summer just like the Chiefs have done to star man Patrick Mahomes. Time will tell if Doyle can get Bolton firing with the same level of success as Mahomes has in Kansas City.

The Bradford Cowboys

Both Bradford and the Dallas Cowboys have a large following of loyal fans. Both however have found success slightly more difficult to come by in recent seasons than their respective fan bases would have hoped. While Bradford narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season, just like the Cowboys but with Bardford investing in their side this season, and with an extra play-off spot available in the NFL, both sides will be hoping for a change in fortunes for this campaign.

The Cambridge Bears

Both of these sides had mid-table campaigns last season and ones which likely won’t live long in the memory of their fans. Cambridge in this off-season have gone and added the aging but evergreen Wes Hoolahan while the Chicago Bears have added veteran Nick Foles to their roster. Interestingly, both of these sides had the chance to sign these players respectively last season but passed up on the opportunity. It remains to be seen if their deals work out this time round.

The Carlisle Cardinals

Carlisle, like the Arizona Cardinals, had an underwhelming season last time around, comfortably avoiding being bottom of the pile but well off challenging at the top of the table. Some smart business in the summer however has seen Carlisle emerge as a dark horse for promotion this season while the Cardinals have raised eyebrows with the aquisition of DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans and Isiah Simmons in the draft, leaving some pundits wondering how far they could go this term.

The Cheltenham Bills

After a frustrating performance the season before, both Cheltenham Town and the Buffalo Bills exceeded expectations last season and made it to the play-offs for the first time in years. While Cheltenham blew a 2-0 lead against Northampton, the Bills were dumped out of the play-offs by the Texans and as soon as their respective play-off journeys started, they were over. Both teams seem to be on the up however and will be looking for a repeat performance this coming campaign.

The Colchester Patriots

So close and yet so far for both of these sides as their seasons each ended in play-off heartbreak. Since then, captain Luke Prosser has left the U’s for Stevenage just as Tom Brady is leaving New England to seek pastures new in Tampa. Both sides have what is left of a decent team and will be hoping that the same player who fired them to the play-offs last season will be able to go again.

The Crawley Chargers

Both Crawley Town and the LA Chargers experienced mid-table campaigns last year with flashes of brilliance throughout the season and moments of calamity at times. Key players have left their respective sides this summer in the shape of Ollie Palmer and Phillip Rivers and will be replaced by youth with Justin Herbert being drafted by the Chargers and Crawley seeing Tyler Frost come in from Reading’s U23s and Archie Davies arrive from Brighton’s U23s.

The Exeter Saints

Always the bridesmaid but never the bride. Both Exeter and the New Orleans Saints have had campaigns ending in the play-offs for what seems like an absolute eternity. Year after year, these sides are always in and around the conversation for the big prize but the one successful play-off campaign they each have enjoyed seems like a very distant memory. Despite some noticeable departures for each, both teams have kept the bulk of their squads and will give it one more go to try and get over the line next season.

The Forest Green Ravens

No, I didn’t choose this mashup becasue the name sounds so good. Am I glad it sounds this good? You’re damn right I am. Forest Green and the Baltimore Ravens are both relatively big spenders with some star players for either side. They’ve also both had a big off-season, tweaking their sides and recruiting in key areas where they were lacking last season in a hunt for glory in this campaign.

The Grimsby Jets

Grimsby Town and the New York Jets are both fairly overlooked sides, but ones who can hurt any team on their day. Just as the Jets have lost the talented Jamal Adams to the Seahawks this summer, Grimsby have seen some strong performers depart too. Mid-table campaigns last time out give these teams a solid base to build on for next season although most pundits don’t see either challenging at the top of the tree.

The Harrogate Raiders

A new team that neither league has seen before, Harrogate enter league football for the first time in their history after heroics in the play-off final at Wembley while the Las Vegas Raiders have moved from Oakland to start a new identity. Both teams will be playing in new surroundings too, with the Raiders getting the keys to a shiny new home in Nevada and Harrogate will be ground-sharing with League One Doncaster Rovers due to EFL restrictions on synthetic playing surfaces.

The Leyton Orient 49ers

Both teams who boast loyal fanbases, Leyton Orient and the San Francisco 49ers had a season back in the big time after a period of time in the wildness. For Orient, the said were back in the football league in an emotional campaign after the late Justin Edinburgh lead them to promotion from the National League. Meanwhile, the 49ers enjoyed a play-off camapign which saw them reach the Superbowl for the first time in eight years.

The Mansfield Buccaneers

Mansfield are one of this season’s big spenders in League Two as the Nottinghamshire club hope to finally enjoy a successful season. Their ‘win now’ mentality in the transfermarket this summer mirrors the attitude of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who despite also experiencing a disappointing season last term, have spent big money this summer. The arrivals of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski will surely overload the Buccs in attack, with Mansfield also going gung ho following some big name arrivals.

The Morecambe Bengals

Morecambe always seem to be at the bottom of the League Two table but have always been able to narrowly avoid the drop out of the football league and for that, I guess they have to be admired. Their fotrunes closely resemble those of the Cincinnati Bengals however, who have also found winning seasons a struggle to come by in recent years. Both sides will be hoping a change in fortunes is in the offing though with sought after manager Derek Adams taking the helm at Morecambe and Joe Burrow arriving at the Bengals as the hottest prospect in the NFL.

The Newport Rams

Having gotten used to finishing in the bottom half of the table, Newport’s play-off final appearance the season before last came as a welcome taste of success for fansof the South Wales club. Similarly to the Exiles, the LA Rams had mostly found winning hard to come by before their play-off loss to the Pats in 2019. Just as both sides lost on the big stage however, both saw a reversion to the mean last season with mid-table campaigns for both teams in what could be described as dissapointing campaigns.

The Oldham Bronchos

Oldham are a club in in the throes of a big transition at the moment. Off the feild issues have dominated the headlines and were matched by underwhelming performances on the pitch. In a similar vain, the Denver Bronchos are in the middle of their own rebuild. After struggling to replace Hall fo Fame QB Peyton Manning, the Bronchos struggled on the pitch and like Oldham aren’t expected to be challengers for this upcoming camapign.

The Port Vale Titans

Donning the label of underdogs last season, both Port Vale and the Tennessee Titans sprung a surprise on some of the bigger teams last season. Port Vale were able to beat all four of the promoted teams at various stages last term while the Titans knocked both the Patriots and the Ravens out of the play-offs before ultimately falling short of reaching the Superbowl just as Vale narrowly missed out on the play-off.

The Salford Colts

Borth Salford City and the Indianapolis Colts showed signs of making a play off push in their respective campaigns last season but ultimately fell short at the final hurdle. This time round however both sides have got their sights firmly set on success and will be relying on experience to get them there. Salford will be hoping that 35-year old Ian Henderson can fire them to promotion next term while the Colts have brought in veteran Phillip Rivers to turn their fortunes around.

The Scunthorpe Giants

Scunthorpe, a team that enjoyed the dizzy heights of the Championship as recently as 2011, have suffered from a sharp decline in recent years. 2011 was conincidentally the last year which the New York Giants tasted Superbowl glory with a win over the Patriots but like Scunthorpe have also struggled in their latest camapigns. After both sides experienced troubling form last season, stability will be the focus this time around.

The Southend Panthers

After managing to avoid releagation the previous season, Southend had a dismal campaign in 2019/20, picking up just four wins in 35 games. Dismal is a word which could just as easily be used to describe the Carolina Panthers last season who continued a steady decline from the past few years. Both teams have a new man at the helm this year and have receruited from smaller teams with Mark Molesley coming in at Southend after a double promotion with Weymouth and Matt Rhule taking the reigns with the Panthers following successful spells in college football.

The Stevenage Dolphins

Well Stevenage certainly doesn’t enjoy the same weather as they do in Miami but there are some similarities between Boro and the Dolphins on the pitch. Both struggled to find form last season an suffered their worst record in recent memory. This summer however has seen some shrewd business conducted by both teams and although they won’t be expected to challenge, should see them make a marked improvement on last time out.

The Tranmere Falcons

After gaining promotion through the play-offs in 2019, Tranmere struggled to find their feet in Leauge One and have found themselves back in the fourth division for the upcoming season. Last seaon was a disappointing one for the Atlanta Falcons too, but with the addition of James Vaughan for Tranmere and with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones at the Falcons, both of these teams are formidable in attack and will have no trouble in scoring against opposition sides this season.

The Walsall Browns

In Wes McDonald, Walsall have one of the best wingers in the league in my opinion, much like Odell Beckham Jr at the Browns. Both Walsall and the Browns had resepctable seasons last time around but their fans will be hoping that they can push on this upcoming campaign and find more success than they have enjoyed in a while.

Thanks for visiting maninthelionmask.co.uk. If you enjoyed reading this article, give us a follow on Twitter @lionmaskpod or subscribe for updates. Don’t forget that you can also listen to our podcast on SoundCloud as well as all your favourite podcast apps.

Guest Podcast: Robbie Simpson

The summer of guest podcast episodes continues as former Exeter City striker Robbie Simpson joins the podcast to talk about the highs and lows of his career both on and off the pitch.

Robbie was part of the Exeter squad which made it to back to back play-off finals at Wembley in 2017 and 2018. He now manages in the National League South with Chelmsford City.


Reimagining Classic ECFC Kits: Part One

With Exeter City recently releasing their latest home kit for the 2020/21 season, there has never been a better time to look back at some of the classic ECFC shirts over the years and imagine how they might look in the modern era. In the first of a mini series, I’ll take a look back at 5 shirts Exeter wore between the club’s inception in 1904 up to the late 1920’s.

1904 – A Club is Born

As St. Sidwell’s United became the Exeter City we now all know and love, the Grecians adopted the Devonian colour of green for it’s kits. A colour which is all but banned from Exeter shirts these days due to connections with rivals Plymouth Argyle, City took the bold step of combining green with white in a half and half design.

Green and white are two colours seldom used on football kits these days and you can rather see why! The design from 1904 was obviously very basic and typical of its era. a simple design, it would look very simplistic in the modern day although with retro kits all the rage at the moment, it could be well received as a third shirt, if only it weren’t for that pesky Argyle green.

1906 – No Half Measures

After two years of donning half green and half white, the Grecians make a change, casting off the white and going with a solid green. I’ll forgive this basic effort given that it is the early 1900s that we’re talking about here but it’s pretty clear to see why green isn’t exactly in vogue for many football clubs.

When mocking this little number up, I couldn’t really leave it as a simple plain green so I’ve enlarged the club crest and used it as a watermark on the front of the shirt. Looking like a Norwich away shirt, I think that every City fan is glad that the club moved away from plain green. I do like a nice folded collar on retro football shirts but the move towards white shorts on this kit compared to the 1904 design represents a loss in character for me.

1910 – Green and Blacks

1910 rolls around and Exeter City wear a green shirt for the last time. This is more of an interesting design, with the inclusion of a white strap below the collar and the white sleeves with the green trim offering something different to the plain green effort previously.

I actually quite like this design. It combines simplicity with something slightly different and I could easily imagine a team using a design similar to this in the modern day. I would prefer black shorts with the green and white shirt but I am a big fan of the black socks with the white and green detailing at the top.

1913 – New Kit, Who Dis?

The 19teens begin and herald a new tradtion for Exeter City with the birth of red and white stripes. The Grecians ditch the colour of their Devonian rivals and adopt an Exonian red, with a style that has lasted right up to the present day.

This design is stripes at it’s simplest. Stripes on the body and stripes on the sleeve. The red collar brings the shirt together although the white shorts are a bit overwhelming given how much white is used on the shirt. Red socks off-set this slightly but all-in-all this kit looks more like it belongs with Stoke City at the Britannia rather than at St James Park.

1926 – Stripes, Stripes, Baby

With the Grecians having established red and white stripes as the new normal in Exeter, this kit brought a continental feel to south Devon with an effort resembling Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.

The shirt design is actually very similar in style to the design used in the 1910’s, with simple stripes on the body and sleeves. The obvious difference is in the change in colour of the socks and the shorts. I’m a massive fan of the use of the dark blue here as I think it compliments the red and white stripes really nicely. In this modernisation I have also given the shirt design a blue collar and trim on the sleeves to match the shorts instead of the original red, just to give another element to the kit and bring it together as a whole.

Thanks for reading this post! Do give us a like and a follow on Twitter @lionmaskpod and keep an eye out for the next parts in this mini-series!

Also, if you’re a fan of historical football shirts or want to see more classic Exeter City shirts through the years, check out Historical Football Kits, I’ve included some of their illustrations in this post and they’ve got a great catalogue of kits through the ages!