Monday’s home defeat to Torquay was the lowest ebb in Exeter City’s dismal campaign. Hopefully it will be the lowest because any worse than that drivel will mean Conference football next season. What wrangled us on the Big Bank the most was not the result, which was dreadful, but the manner in which the Grecians gifted Torquay the win without the fight you would expect from a team in danger of relegation.
The lack of width and pace was apparent from the outset. The Gulls had a defence that was crying out to be attacked by the energetic, direct, pacey David Wheeler. Unfortunately Paul Tisdale doesn’t like to see that at home. He seems intent on boring us to tears with a negative, slow brand of football which has now resulted in the most number of home defeats in League Two this season (11).
“I know the fans were getting disappointed because we let them have the ball, but that was part of the game plan and they weren’t really creating anything,” Scot Bennett told the Western Morning News after the game. If we let the Football League’s basement club have the ball and try to counter-attack them at home, do we really deserve to stay up?
Whilst hitting lowly visiting teams on the break at home is a desperate ploy, you at least need to have the basic of counter-attacking in place; some pace in midfield. Shame then that the midfield that started against Torquay had all the speed of Sam Parkin. Matt Oakley in particular looked like he was playing in a ‘Masters Football’ indoor tournament that you see on Sky Sports in the summer with retired players. There’s no doubting his pedigree and experience, but the time has come to give Jimmy Keohane a chance to stake his claim for next season, when it’s clear that Oakley will be hanging up his boots.
City have been dreadful at home for a while now, apart from that purple patch at the start of the season and the shock 3-0 win over Fleetwood. The Torquay performance, though, and in particular that of Paul Tisdale seemed to strike of a manager who has run out of ideas – bordering on clueless. What irritates in particular is that the City boss never holds his hands up after the game and takes the blame. The Exeter Chiefs suffered an embarrassing stuffing at home on Saturday but at least Head Coach Rob Baxter had the decency to come out and apologise to the fans.
The shocking home form hasn’t just been painful to watch, it’s hit gate receipts too. A big deal for a club of our size that relies heavily on cash flow from home games. The average home attendance this season, with one game remaining, has fallen by 481 on last season to 3,678 , but Saturday’s visit of title-chasing Scunthorpe is likely to reduce that figure to around 420. Based on an average admission price of £12.15 taken from the prices on the club’s website, that equates to a drop in gate receipts of around £110,000 from last season. That figure is not exact, but it goes to show the financial impact of Tisdale’s home negativity. Would any other club or business allow for such a worrying slump in sales without someone paying the price?
With the club’s finances tighter than ever and becoming increasingly propped up by the Trust, the home form and attendance drop of the past couple of years justifies Tisdale’s dismissal at the end of the season. Manchester United possess one of the best away records in the Premier League this season, not that it spared David Moyes from the axe, and neither should it with Tisdale. Enough is enough.