Exeter striker 'showed touch of class' for admitting handball in draw with Stevenage, says Boro boss Darren Sarll
PUBLISHED: 18:26 18 February 2017 | UPDATED: 18:26 18 February 2017
Danny Loo Photography 2017
Jobi McAnuff’s superb individual effort fired Stevenage to a point at Exeter with Boro boss Darren Sarll saying Grecians’ Reuben Reid ‘showed class’ by telling him after the match that the ball had hit his hand on its way into the net for City’s equaliser.
McAnuff slalomed his way to the 18-yard box on 31 minutes and then dummied a shot to go past another defender and into the area before a slight deflection took his low effort past Exeter keeper Bobby Olejnik.
It was a fine goal from a man who has hit form these past few weeks as his side go in search of a play-off place, but unfortunately for Boro it wasn’t the winner in a thrilling game of football that left spectators unable to take their eyes off the game.
Exeter’s home form was superb going into this match with 15 goals in their last four matches, and it seemed almost inevitable that they would create enough chances to forge out an equaliser here.
And they did just that with Reid firing them level, though Boro boss Darren Sarll said afterwards: “The player admitted it straight after the game to me, apologised actually. Thought it was a touch of class from Reuben Reid.”
Stevenage made the one change from the side that beat Cheltenham last week with Michael Tonge replacing the suspended Charlie Lee, but it was his central midfield partner Steven Schumacher who was called into action early to clear off the line as the home side came out of the traps quickly.
Troy Brown it was with the header from a corner, but Schumacher had stayed on his post and managed to boot the ball clear.
Jamie Jones was then forced into a low save to his left from the coveted Ollie Watkins as Exeter looked for an early goal, but it was Stevenage who took the lead on 32 minutes during their own period of dominance with McAnuff finishing off a fine run.
Five minutes into the second half though and Exeter were level.
Boro had defended well in the first period but were unable to clear their lines early in the second as Exeter came knocking and Reid forced open the door from just a few yards out.
The hosts turned the screw with free-kicks and corners but Sarll’s men held their nerve to limit Exeter to just one goal during a period of home superiority.
It was then Stevenage’s turn to step on the front foot and, not soon after his introduction off the bench, Ben Kennedy struck a low shot at goal but it was comfortable for Olejnik.
Another substitute, Henry Cowans, then tried his luck but although Olejnik was made to work harder this time he was able to turn the ball around the post.
At the other end it was the turn of an Exeter substitute to get Boro hearts pumping, but Liam McAlinden’s shot from 12 yards out took a deflection to lift it over the bar.
Moments later the ball ran across the 18-yard-box to Jack Stacey, but with three points beckoning he blasted off target with a minute to go before, in the final minute, a long free-kick to Joel Grant at the far post was guided off target.
It was an entertaining match overseen by two managers at different ends of the managerial spectrum but who both want their teams to play the right way.
And with Boro moving up one place to eighth, they’re also moving the right way in the league as well.
Exeter City: Olejnik, Woodman, James, Tillson (Grant 85), Harley, Wheeler, Watkins, Moore-Taylor, Stacey, Reid (McAlinden 75), Brown. Subs: Hamon, Oakley, Ampadu, Croll, Sweeney.
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Ogilvie, Wilkinson, Franks, Tonge, Schumacher (Cowans 64), McQuoid (Kennedy 61), McAnuff, Pett, Godden (Hinds 87). Subs: Day, Gorman, Ntlhe, Loft.