Cherries started in a standard 4-4-2 setup with the Wardrobe and Goulding up front and Pitman having to make do with a left side birth. Exeter have a pretty good home record and they showed why. Getting their fullbacks forward, forcing our wide players to retreat and protect the space in front of our defence. The opening period was all Exeter with the fitted bedroom and Goulding isolated up front. Trying to get the ball forward proved difficult as it bounced back every time as Exeter's three centre halved easily coped with the longer ball.
It was a mistake, unfortunately that lead to the opening goal. A cross field ball from Robinson was miss-controlled by Pitman and bounced to Stansfield (not Lisa) who slid home mast the advancing Jalal. With only 13 minutes gone this could have meant problems. Fortunately, despite the majority of possession as well as a number of decent chances the damage was kept to just the one goal at half time.
Having picked up a knock at the end of the first period, Cooper was replaced by Guyet at the start of the second. This lead to a tactical shuffle which was to change our fortunes. From 4-4-2 to an Ajax"esque" 3-4-3 (It wasn't quite like watching Ajax, or Brazil but it was effective).
Within the first 10 minutes the superbly named Troy Archibald-Henderson managed to push the ball through his own 'keepers legs and Hollands was on hand to slot home from ten yards. Exeter, stunned that the team next to bottom had the nerve to score started to push forward in search of the lead. This resulted in gaps appearing in front of their back three and just three minutes later Pitman went on a jinking run. Starting on the right side, in his own half he shimmied past two half hearted tackles has a touch of luck after losing the ball for it to bounce of a defender and back to his feet, a nice couple of shoulder drops to decoy the defenders and a lovely curl past Jones in the Exeter goal. One of the goals of the season and it later won "goal of the week" on Sky Sports. It's true, Pitman is better then Messi.
With Exeter now searching for a way back they became disjointed and vulnerable to the counter attack. Fletcher was removed from the fray and Joe Partington arrived to bolster the midfield. A couple of chances were squandered, Exeter hitting the crossbar and Goulding being caught offside on occasions. The third goal did come when, remaining onside, Goulding got clear in the inside left channel, drew the 'keeper, slid the ball to his right where Pitman arrived to curl home and seal the win.
A great evening, great awareness and willingness to change things by Eddie. Refreshing to have a pragmatist who is willing to make a decision and change things if it's not working rather then plug away with Plan A until it works.
SAY WE ARE STAYING UP, SAY WE ARE STAYING UP!
AFCB: Jalal, Cooper, Pearce, Garry, Cummings, Molesley, Hollands, Robinson, Pitman, Fletcher, Goulding
Subs: Pryce, Feeney, Guyett (for Cooper, HT), Partington (for Fletcher, 70 mins), McQuoid (for Goulding, 90 mins)
Phil Henstridge, Bicester