Exeter City: Rise to the top

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An Extract from Tom James's autobiography 'Rise To The Top', published May 2040.

Chapter 15

I'd only been to Wembley once as a manager, for that painful League Two Play-off Final defeat to Grimsby. It was a surreal feeling, sat on the bus as we saw the famous arches come into view, knowing that in a few hours, we'd be competing there for a place in the FA Cup final. My stomach growled, I had barely managed to eat anything from the buffet beforehand, so nervous about the contest. Fact is, we had a lot to be hopeful for. Since the start of February, we'd only lost once in the league, and the match before, we'd beaten Derby at Pride Park pretty convincingly. Yes we were playing Premier League opposition and were definitely underdogs, but equally, it's not like we were playing Liverpool, Manchester City or Chelsea. It was Burnley, a side who were overperforming in the league just like us, and were 9th at the time. They had some good players - notably Jude Bellingham, a young English midfielder - but so did we.

All the pre match interviews were a blur, I just wanted the game to start. Our cause wasn't helped by suspensions to Adam Lewis, Randell Williams and Alfie McCalmont, who were all booked in the quarterfinal win at Newcastle. I stuck with Lewis Ward in goal, our penalty shootout hero in the previous round. Neco Williams, Tyler Magloire, Robbie Thompson and Niko Hämäläinen made up the back line, while Adam Phillips partnered Borracha in midfield. Dilan Markanday took Randell Williams's spot, while Harvey Elliott, Ryan Mellor and Jordan Chapman completed the line-up. As the teams walked out, I couldn't help but feel immensely proud. Last year, we'd lost in the second round to Plymouth. Now we were competing for a place in the final. I shook Michel Preud'homme's hand and made my way to the dug out.

We were definitely nervous early on and gave the ball away lots. Neco was guilty of this in the build up to Burnley's opener, as he was robbed on the left hand side. It was the 20 year old Darren Smith who made us pay, hammering home into the top right hand corner from just outside the box. A special goal and one which Lewis could do nothing about. We managed to make it to half time without conceding again, but that was through luck rather than anything else. It was difficult to know what to say at half time. It wasn't going awfully for us, but equally we weren't creating anything at all. I told them to go out there and give the fans their money's worth. They seemed to like that.

Burnley came back after half time flying, and it wasn't long before Jonathan Amon made it two. He ran down the left hand side virtually unopposed, then took a shot with clattered off Neco and Tyler, before slotting home the rebound. Sadly, Neco compounded an awful day by heading the ball straight to Colombian striker Luis Suarez moments later, who made it three. I was disappointed by our performance. Dilan wasted our best opportunity of the match minutes later, but truthfully, I didn't see a way back for us either way. There was a sense of relief when the final whistle went. Our team this season was very young, and this match showed me that perhaps I needed to get some more experienced heads in.

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We start April with a disappointing loss to Palace, where we never really got going. Three consecutive wins followed, including our best performance of the season against Luton, and a 2-1 win over Derby which put us right in play-off contention.

After the FA Cup semi final defeat, we beat Birmingham 3-0, and a last minute winner against Swansea put us into the playoff places for the first time, ahead of the final game of the season against Charlton.
 
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Soccer Saturday (@SoccerSaturday) | Twitter



12:00am

Jeff Stelling (JS): It's the last day of the Championship season, and still lots to be decided. Watford and West Brom have almost identical records to each other, Watford currently have a much better goal difference to West Brom, but they face a potentially difficult trip to 10th placed Ipswich. Watford are at home against a Wigan side who know they have to win to avoid relegation. Also at the other end of the table is a pivotal game between 21st placed Nottingham Forest and 22nd placed Blackburn. Forest know a win will secure their safety, while Blackburn need to win, and hope that Wigan don't pull off an upset at Vicarage Road. And if that's not enough drama, Exeter, Huddersfield and Derby are all competing for the last two play off places. Exeter should be safe with a point at home to Charlton, unless Huddersfield win and Derby win by a four goal margin. Huddersfield are away at Bristol City whilst Derby face a difficult trip to Crystal Palace.

PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1Watford45271084591
2West Brom45271083891
3Millwall45284131488
4Leeds45241473286
5Exeter45257132982
6Huddersfield45256142181
7Derby452311112680

12:38

Bristol City 0-1 Huddersfield
Ipswich 0-1 Watford
Leeds 1-0 Newcastle


JS: Thank you Alan, so Leeds's early goal against Newcastle puts them ahead of Newcastle in 3rd and....

Paul Merson (PM): Ohhhhhhh, GOAAAAAAAL!

JS: A GOAL AT VICARAGE ROAD, BUT WHICH WAY?

PM: It's gone to Watford, and what a scrappy way to potentially seal the title. It comes from a corner, it's swung in and Ipswich just don't deal with it properly. It breaks to Joe Gelhardt, who taps in, he'll never score an easier goal than that.

JS: It's his 17th of the season, but he's not scored many as important as that. Watford go two points clear of West Brom, who are struggling to break Wigan down in the early stages.


PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1Watford46281084694
2West Brom46271183892
3Leeds46251473389
4Millwall46285131489
5Huddersfield46266142284
6Exeter46258132982
7Derby462312112681

12:56

Leeds 1-1 Newcastle
Ipswich 1-1 Watford
Millwall 1-0 Birmingham
Crystal Palace 1-0 Derby


JS: That's Almiron's 9th goal of the season, and it brings Newcastle level with Leeds. Crystal Palace still leading Derby by a goal to nil.

PM: Chance, chance, oh IT'S A GOAL

JS: Well, well, well. Last time we came to Paul, he said that Watford were having an easy time of it. Suddenly it's not so comfortable.

PM: Alex Moreno, what are you doing? Watford's left back just falls asleep as the cross comes in from Arce, and it's an easy header for Nathan Broadhead.

JS: Eight for the season now for Broadhead, and it gives West Brom some hope that they can ****** the title away.

PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1Watford46271184592
2West Brom46271183892
3Millwall46294131591
4Leeds46241573287
5Huddersfield46266142284
6Exeter46258132982
7Derby462311122580

13:00

Exeter 1-0 Charlton
Bristol City 1-1 Huddersfield
West Brom 1-0 Wigan


JS: Big goal at Exeter, which way has it gone? Bianca Westwood

Bianca Westwood (BW): Well Jeff, it's a goal for Exeter, and it's what they deserve. They've dominated so far in front of their lively fans, and it's Harvey Elliott and Randell Williams combining as they have so many times this season. Elliott swings in a corner, and Williams is there to head home unmarked. 1-0 Exeter.

JS: Well it's another goal from a player who has been at Exeter since their League Two days, and it could be a goal that helps get them into the Premier League, a statement many of us would have thought ridiculous twelve months ago.

CN: OH ITS A GOAL

JS: Well Randell Williams just put Exeter above Huddersfield in the table, and things have got even worse for them.

CN: It's a shocking goal for Huddersfield to concede, Jay Dasilva is given all the space in the world to run down the wing, Huddersfield's defence fall apart and Antione Semenyo is in the right place to head home.

JS: Huddersfield pegged back, although if Derby continue to lose against Palace, then it doesn't matter what happens.

Matt Le Tissier (MLT): GOALLLLLLLLL

JS: Big, big goal at the top of the table, and for the first time today, West Brom are top.

MLT: Yeah, and you've got to say fair play. West Brom have been the much better side, and they take the lead through Salas, who finishes off a lovely passing move.

PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1West Brom46281083994
2Watford46271184592
3Millwall46294131591
4Leeds46241573287
5Exeter46267133084
6Huddersfield46257142182
7Derby462312122580

13:13

Ipswich 1-2 Watford


JS: Well it's all gone a bit quiet in the Championship. As things stand, West Brom are going to win the league, with Millwall, Leeds, Exeter and Huddersfield making the--

PM: OH WHAT A GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLL

JS: Well I was just saying West Brom are on track to win the league, BUT WATFORD HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT THAT

PM: Yeah, and it comes from a throw in down the left hand side. Michelin takes it, throws it to Will Hughes, who gives it back. He plays the ball into the box, and Massengo absolutely hammers it home. 2-1 Watford, perhaps a harsh scoreline on Ipswich who have been the better team here.

JS: 10 goals for the defensive midfielder this season, not a bad return at all from the man signed for £22 million last season.

PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1Watford46281084694
2West Brom46281083994
3Millwall46294131591
4Leeds46241573287
5Exeter46267133084
6Huddersfield46257142182
7Derby462312122580
 
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13:42

Leeds 1-2 Newcastle
Bristol City 2-1 Huddersfield


JS: Newcastle have taken the lead through Sean Longstaff, let's hear about that...

CN: Oh dear oh dear oh dear

JS: We'll go to Leeds in a minute, there's a big goal in the game at Bristol.

CN: It's like Huddersfield don't want to make the play offs. Masina heads the ball back to Collins in the Huddersfield goal, and it should be an easy catch. Instead he completely fumbles it, and Ryan Edmondson isn't gonna miss from there. 2-1.

JS: You say Huddersfield don't want to make the play offs, but as it stands, they're still going to, with Derby still trailing at Crystal Palace. But that of course could all change.

PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1Watford46281084694
2West Brom46281083994
3Millwall46294131591
4Leeds46241573287
5Exeter46267133084
6Huddersfield46256152081
7Derby462312122580

13:48

Crystal Palace 2-0 Derby
Crystal Palace 2-1 Derby


JS: As you can see on the vidiprinter, there's been a goal which Huddersfield fans will all be relieved to see.

Phil Thompson (PT): Ah Derby have been awful today, and this goal is the least Palace deserve. It came from Mitchell, who played the ball through to Isak, and slots it past Rodak. No idea what Derby's central defenders are doing, no way he should be allowed to get in those sort of positions in the box. Derby haven't look threatening at all today... although saying that, they've got the ball in Palace's box at the moment... just can't seem to find the killer pass.... ohhhh it's 2-1 Jeff.

JS (chuckling): So Derby haven't looked threatening all day... until now!

PT: Yeah, and Dubravka won't want to see this one again. It's scored by the right back Bogle, who beats Dubravkha at his near post... think Dubravka gets a hand to it, but nowhere near enough power. 2-1 Palace.

PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1Watford46281084694
2West Brom46281083994
3Millwall46294131591
4Leeds46241573287
5Exeter46267133084
6Huddersfield46256152081
7Derby462312122580


13:53
Penalty for Charlton


JS: PENALTY AT ST JAMES'S PARK, BUT FOR WHO?

BW: Yes Jeff, it's a stonewall one, and it's for Charlton. Exeter have been very solid all day, but they get caught out by the pace of Richard Afrane-Kasey, making just his second senior appearance. Lloyd Jones brings him down in the box, and the penalty is correctly given. Looks like Leandro Bacuna's going to take it, oh AND IT'S SAVED! Lewis Ward dives to his left, and Exeter's lead is preserved.

JS: Exeter fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Lewis Ward with another big moment, he's been their first choice keeper all throughout their meteoric rise under James, and they owe him a lot thanks to saves like that one.


PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1Watford46281084694
2West Brom46281083994
3Millwall46294131591
4Leeds46241573287
5Exeter46267133084
6Huddersfield46256152081
7Derby462312122580


14:00

Bristol 3-1 Huddersfield
Exeter 2-0 Charlton
West Brom 2-0 Wigan


CN: OH WHAT A GOAAAAAAAAL!!!

JS: Well last we heard, Huddersfield were pushing for an equaliser. THEIR JOB JUST GOT HARDER!

CN: Oh my, what a strike this is. It's Ryan Edmondson again, and if his first was lucky, there's certainly no luck about this one. He gets the ball on the edge of the box from Nagy, and under pressure, he calmly curls the ball straight in the top corner.

JS: Edmondson himself has admitted he's been disappointed with his performances this season, and he only had four goals in the league before today. But he'll remember that one for a long time. And now let's go back to St James's Park, where there's been an important goal. Bianca Westwood.

BW: And that should be Exeter's playoff space wrapped up. It comes from a brilliant move, and Adam Phillips finds a perfect pass to play Tyler Magloire, playing as a right back today, through on goal. He calmly slots it home for the first goal of his professional career, and what a way to do it.

JS: Thank you Bianca, and what an extraordinary story. Most people predicted Exeter to finish in the relegation zone this season, but they've been in scintillating form in 2023, reaching the FA Cup semi final and now probably securing a playoff position.

MLT: GOALLLLLLLLL

JS: Another goal at the Hawthorns, have Wigan given themselves a lifeline?

MLT: Not at all, it's West Brom who add a second. Sam Field launches a long ball forward, and Stephen Finn, a 19 year old who's only been on the pitch for thirty seconds, latches onto it, volleying home.

JS: So it looks as though Wigan's time in the Championship is up, meanwhile West Brom either need to score six in seven minutes, or hope for some late drama at Portman Road.

PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1Watford46281084694
2West Brom46281084094
3Millwall46294131591
4Leeds46241573287
5Exeter46267133184
6Huddersfield46256151981
7Derby462312122580
 
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14:10
Ipswich 2-2 Watford
Crystal Palace 2-2 Derby


JS: So we're now in the 90th minute all of our games, but there's still time for some big changes in the table.

PM: Chance, OHHHHHH IT'S A GOAL!!!!!

JS: WELL WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT??!! WATFORD WERE SECONDS AWAY FROM WINNING THE LEAGUE, BUT NOT ANY MORE!

PM: Absolute shambles at the back once again. Watford need to sort that defence out in the Prem next year. Firstly, Watford give the ball away easily in the middle of the park, then Moreno just lets Lankester run at him. Lankester plays an easy ball to Arce, who's been brilliant all game, and he slots home. Keeper should do better. Also who was marking Arce? Shocking stuff.

JS: And news of that Ipswich goal has made its way to the Hawthorns, where the full time whistle has just gone. They're singing about being champions, but who knows if there's another -------

PT: GOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!!

JS: WE SAID THERE WAS TIME FOR BIG CHANGES! AND THERE'S BEEN ANOTHER ONE HERE!

PT: Martin Dubravka, I wouldn't step foot in Huddersfield for a while if I were you. It's another soft soft goal. It comes from Bogle again, who's been outstanding in this second half. He crosses the ball to 19 year old Keren Tal, who may just have written his name in Derby folklore if they manage to win the playoffs. Tal's first header should be saved by Dubravka, but instead he parries it straight at him, and it's a simple tap in for the Derby striker.

JS: So Derby leapfrog Huddersfield, who lose 3-1 at Bristol City. And it's full time at Portman Road!! West Brom go up as champions in dramatic circumstances, Watford will have to settle for second place. Nottingham Forest draw 1-1 with Blackburn, meaning Wigan and Blackburn go down, along with Charlton, who already knew they would be playing League One football next year. And the whistle blows at Pride Park. What a moment for Derby County, who reach the playoffs for the first time since 2019. It's their first top half finish in that period too, testament to what a good job Chris Wilder has done here.

PositionTeamPlayedWDLGDPoints
1West Brom46281084094
2Watford46271184592
3Millwall46294131591
4Leeds46241573287
5Exeter46267133184
6Derby 462313112681
7Huddersfield46256151981
 
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Sky Sports - Sports News, Transfers, Scores | Watch Live Sport



Screenshot 2020-06-08 at 13.01.49.png


A late fightback from Leeds puts next week's second leg in the balance, as they recover from a first half Exeter onslaught. Nonetheless, Exeter will travel to Elland Road, knowing that a place in the final is theirs if they can avoid defeat.

Exeter got off to a perfect start through Aston Villa loanee Ryan Mellor, who headed home an Adam Lewis cross from close range. It was Mellor's sixth goal of the season, for the youngster who only signed for the club in January. Five minutes later, Lewis was in the thick of it again, winning a penalty after a rash Giannetti challenge on the edge of the box. Lewis calmly tucked it into the right hand corner, sending the Exeter fans into delirium.

The home side missed chances to go further ahead, with Ledesma saving well from Harvey Elliott, and Jordan Chapman on two occasions. After 24 minutes, Exeter grabbed their third, this time through Adam Phillips, added to the starting line up due to Alfie McCalmont being ineligible to face his parent club. Chapman headed to ball down to Phillips outside the box, who unleashed a powerful driven shot into the bottom corner.

Leeds began to threaten more after half time, and could have grabbed one back after Helder Costa hit the crossbar. Robbie Gotts won a penalty for his side, after Lewis fouled him running into the box. Costa converted the penalty, going to the keeper's left. Just as it looked like Exeter were going to hold on for 3-1, Marco Bianco scored after a mazy run, leaving Robbie Thompson for dead and placing the ball past Lewis Ward.

Exeter managed to hold out for the victory in the end, but may rue those two late goals from a side who have proven difficult to beat at home.


Screenshot 2020-06-08 at 13.03.49.png
 

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The Athletic - The New Home of Football Writing


Exeter survive Leeds onslaught to put themselves on the verge of history

By James Ingram | May 12th 2023

"To be honest with you, the whole match is a bit of a blur."

So says Lewis Ward, Exeter City's man of the match in their 1-1 draw against Leeds, a result which put them through to the Championship play-off final for the first time in their history. On top of that, Tom James's side could become the first ever side to achieve three consecutive promotions from League Two to the Premier League. A remarkable achievement from a side who were almost universally backed to finish rock bottom of the Championship.

If Ward can't remember any of his 12 saves to keep his side in the contest, Exeter fans certainly can. "He's a credit to the club, he's been here since James first arrived and he never lets us down," were the words of one fan I spoke to outside Elland Road. "I hope we get promoted, because otherwise other teams are going to be all over him." His first big moment came in the 7th minute, as he got down low to prevent Mbaye from putting Leeds ahead. He then made a catalogue of impressive saves, thrice thwarting Marco Bianco, and making a jaw dropping stop from Filip Bradaric. He dived the wrong way for Helder Costa's 44th minute penalty, although whether that penalty should have been given has been the subject of intense debate. Borracha was deemed to have fouled Costa in the box, but replays suggest that the Brazilian won the ball.

Exeter deserve a huge amount of credit for not losing their heads after half time. James once again named an incredibly young starting line up, with Martin Kelly, Randell Williams, Lewis Ward and Niko Hämäläinen the only players older than 25 in the line up. Had Neco Williams and Adam Lewis been fit to play, it may have been just two older than 25. However the away side were improved after half time, and equalised through Randell Williams, another player who has been here throughout their journey from League Two under James. Borracha's corner was fumbled by Ledesma in the Leeds goal, who presented the perfect opportunity for Williams to tap home. Leeds continued to pile on the pressure to level the tie, but Exeter held on. Every single one of Exeter's player rose to the task; Martin Kelly played like a man deserving of more than his solitary England cap, whilst Robbie Thompson performed with a maturity beyond his years.

Derby County await in the final, a side who only qualified for the playoffs by virtue of a 91st minute equaliser against Crystal Palace. They defeated Millwall 2-1 on aggregate. Exeter's playoff final record makes pretty grim reading, losing four of their last five playoff finals, their only win coming against Cambridge in 2008. Derby themselves have lost three out of their last four, having not won since 2007, when they beat West Brom to get promoted to the top flight.
 

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Sky Sports - Sports News, Transfers, Scores | Watch Live Sport


Live Coverage of the Championship Play-Off Final

Commentators: Martin Tyler and Alan Smith

"0 KICK-OFF

MT: And there goes the whistle. It all comes down to this, 90 minutes to decide who will be playing Premier League football next year. For Derby County, it'll be their first crack at the top flight since they went down in 2008, setting the record for lowest ever points total in the process. Exeter City had never even played in the Championship before this year, but thanks to a stunning season under Tom James, they find themselves on the verge of the history.

"7 CHANCE

MT: So Johansen takes the corner for Derby, who've started off pretty well. He crosses it in, ooh Kelly fails to clear and the ball breaks loose, could go anywhere. Lewis Ward is able to pick it up though.

AS: Bit of a let-off for Exeter that, Martin Kelly has to be doing better there. Good save by Ward though to keep the scoreline level.

"31 CHANCE


AS: Exeter enjoying their best period of the match at the moment. Borracha has it now, he finds Adam Lewis making his way into the penalty area, threads it through to Williams, GOOD SAVE !

MT: Rodak does well against Williams there, the Exeter man will be disappointed with that effort though. Should have been a goal.

"41 GOAL

MT: Derby have another corner, they've looked dangerous from these all day. Johansen swings it in GOAL!!!!!!

AS: Morgan Whittaker has only started three matches this season, his inclusion today raised a lot of eyebrows. But he's scored an absolutely massive goal here, beating Tyler Magloire to the ball, and heading home. 1-0 Derby.

"50 GOAL

AS: Lewis crosses it in for Strandberg, oh and that's a silly foul. Strandberg, on as a half time substitute clumsily clatters into Rodak and gives away a free kick.

MT: Exeter need to be careful, they're showing signs that the frustration might be getting the better of them. There's still a long way to go in this one.

AS: Buchanan plays the ball back to Rodak, Strandberg has been lively since coming on, and is chasing the ball down OH MY! WHAT A HOWLER FROM MAREK RODAK.

MT: EXETER ARE LEVEL, AND YOU WILL NOT SEE A STRANGER GOAL THAN THIS ALL SEASON. Rodak thinks he has much more time than he does, but Carlos Strandberg is suddenly there. He dispossesses him on the edge of the box, and practically walks the ball into Derby's net. Strandberg has become known for scoring important goals for Exeter this year, and none more so than this one.

"67 CHANCE

AS: Derby County playing it round the back now, Buchanan launches it forward to Knight on the centre circle, ooh lovely flick on from Knight to put Balogh through on goal, he shoots... Ward gets both hands on to it initially, but drops it and it goes for a Derby corner.

MT: After a good spell for Exeter, Derby are starting to threaten again, and Tom James is looking concerned on the touchline.

"93 CHANCE

MT: So unless something massive happens in the next minute, we are going to extra time in this play-off final. Markanday has the ball on the right hand side, crosses it in to Johansen who can only head it as far as Borrachaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa OH MY WORD!!! Borracha's long range half volley hits the cross bar, and Rodak manages to scramble it away.

AS: Absolutely stunning, Exeter City literally were an inch away from promotion to the Premier League. That would have been one of the best play-off goals of all time had it gone in.

MT: And there goes the whistle. Tom James can only laugh on the touchline, what a moment that was!

EXTRA TIME

"107 CHANCE

AS: Another corner for Exeter, who have been the better side in extra time. Lewis swings it in towards Strandberg, who heads back across goal. Robbie Thompson is there, shot is blocked, tries again, blocked again.

MT: Derby are defending for their lives out there.

"108 GOAL

MT: A nice little period of possession for Derby now, and Johansen hits the ball long towards Marriott, who crosses it across the box, Markanday misses the header SHINNIEEEEEEEEE. THE DERBY FANS GO WILD, AS SHINNIE'S VOLLEY FINDS THE BACK OF THE NET. THAT COULD BE THE GOAL THAT SENDS DERBY BACK TO THE TOP FLIGHT!

AS: Unbelievable move from Derby, but Markanday has to do better there. He just lets the cross fly past him, and it could have cost his side promotion.

"110 GOAL

AS: Exeter are going all out now, Borracha has it, oh he's been dispossessed though. And have they committed too many men forward? Holmes is given the freedom of Wembley to run up the pitch, Adam Lewis is absolutely nowhere to be seen. He's one on one with the keeper, AND HE'S DONE IT! Duane Holmes puts Derby 3-1 up, and bar any late Exeter heroics, they will be going to the Premier League next season.

MT: It's a bitter pill to swallow for Exeter, who have given it their all today. But it doesn't look like they've got anything left in the tank here.

FULL TIME - DERBY ARE PROMOTED TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

MT: And it's full time at Wembley, Derby County are back in the big time. Worth remembering that Derby qualified for the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, and now they get a crack at the Premier League again. Chris Wilder is on the pitch, celebrating with his players who were excellent today. They outplayed Exeter in the first half, and defended well when Exeter grew into the game. But Tom James, his players and the Exeter City fans will all be wondering what might have been if Borracha's 93rd minute shot had just been slightly lower.

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Exeter City F.C. - Wikipedia


Exeter City 2022-23 Award Ceremony

Screenshot 2020-06-10 at 16.07.39.png




Alfie McCalmont won his second Player of the Season award this year, thanks to some stunning performances in midfield. McCalmont, also named Young Player of the Season, grabbed nine goals and four assists in 37 games this year, including two in our run to the FA Cup semi final. McCalmont's night was topped off by the presentation of his EFL Player of the Season award. Tom James jokingly berated the Leeds loanee, saying that his performances this season have added another couple of million to his price tag. He confirmed that the club were in talks with Leeds to bring him to St James's Park permanently. Carlos Strandberg was named signing of the season, scoring 14 goals since joining on a free transfer at the start of the year. Jordan Chapman won goal of the season, after his amazing solo run vs Blackburn.

Screenshot 2020-06-10 at 16.08.15.png
Screenshot 2020-06-10 at 16.05.45.png


Jordan Chapman received the award for top goalscorer, whilst Adam Lewis won the award for most assists. Special praise went to Lewis Ward as well, who was named in the Championship Team of the Season for his stunning performances in goal.

In his speech, Tom James thanked the players and fans for another stunning season, and promised to try and bring more success next year. He also paid tribute to some of the leaving players, most notably Shay McCartan. "Shay has been an enormous figure at Exeter. We signed him the season we got promoted from League Two, and I definitely think his performances were the catalyst for our rise. But such is competition for places here, that he's struggled a bit for game time, and wish him success wherever he goes next." Martin Kelly, Ryan Harrington, Ben Seymour and Jack Sparkes are also all set to leave the club.

Thank you for your support, and we'll see you next year for another crack at promotion!
 
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1589299269095.png





September 1st 2023

Transfer Review: Exeter City

In today's Transfer Review, Exeter City fan Ryan Adams looks at his club's signings in this window.


INs

Moritzl Masandl (CM) - signed from Bayern's reserves with an impressive reputation, Masandl sadly suffered a broken leg in our first friendly. Hopefully he'll be back before the end of the year.


Screenshot 2020-06-14 at 16.22.55.png



Yanis Fetheddine (CM) - Signed on a free from Saint Ettienne, Fetheddine is certainly one for the future. Look good on his debut in the Carabao Cup win over Coventry, his only appearance so far.


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Roberto Lopez (AM) - the former Real Sociedad man looks an absolute steal at £325k so far! Scored on his debut against Millwall, and was man of the match against Luton, before he went off injured. Nonetheless, he should be back to full fitness next week.


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Nicollo Zanellato (CM) - our new record signing, and what a signing he's been! Three goals from midfield already and several dominant displays mean that few are questioning the £1.9 million paid for the former AC Milan man.


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Lenny Lacroix (CB) - restricted to Carabao Cup action so far, but with a future fee clause, could be an important part of our future.


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Ki-Jana Hoever (RB/CB) - though he was bought in as back up for his fellow Liverpool loanee Neco Williams (now on his fifth loan at the club!), he's also appeared at centre back a few times and looked good.


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Jarrad Braithwaite (CB) - loanee from Everton, has been decent so far.


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Sam Lewis (ST) - James's second time going to the Welsh league for transfers, let's hope he's as successful as Jordan Chapman has been.


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Samuele Perisan (GK) - brought in from Lazio, many thought he would be backup to Lewis Ward. However Perisan seems to be first choice in the league so far, and he's playing well.

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Scott McMillan (ST) - quite the coup, as several teams were interested in the Millwall player. Scored his first goal in the League Cup against Coventry.


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OUTs

Aaron Martin (CB) - forgot he was still at the club to be honest, good move for all parties from a player who was great for us back in the League Two days, but probably past it.

Glen McGee (ST) - was never going to be good enough, had a loan spell at Barnet where he scored no goals in fifteen appearances.

Kameron Ledwidge (LB) - talented youngster, but probably not got enough about him at this level.


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8/10 for this window, lots of talent brought in. Zanellato and Lopez in particular look like fine additions, and have made up for the club failing to agree terms with Alfie McCalmont.

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Three consecutive wins to start the season. Dilan Markanday deputises well for the injured Harvey Elliott, grabbing two goals, while Roberto Lopez and Niccolo Zanellato grab their first goals for the club.

After a weakened XI beat Coventry in the cup, a surprise home defeat to newly promoted QPR, losing to a 78th minute penalty which shouldn't have been given, as Adam Lewis clearly won the ball. Another frustrating home game followed against Brentford, who came from behind twice to draw.

We return to winning ways with a strong performance at early strugglers Nottingham Forest, before another good cup performance sees us through to the third round.

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Worst performance in some, some time as we fall 3-0 at home to Bristol City, despite having more than twice as many shots.

Some good performances on the road follow, with a 1-0 victory at Newcastle, and a 1-1 draw with promotion contending Barnsley. We move forward in the cup again, defeating League One Crewe thanks to a late Adam Phillips goal, surviving a scare after Crewe went ahead early on.

Our indifferent form at St James's Park continues with a home defeat to 3rd placed Huddersfield.

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A stunning performance sees us win 5-0 at the Liberty Stadium, in a match including a stunning long range effort from Ki-Jana Hoever. In the next match, we stun recently relegated Leicester, who had flawless record until that point, with two early goals from Harvey Elliott sealing the win.

A stalemate at Sheffield Wednesday follows, before we beat a mid-table Crystal Palace side 4-0 at home. However our inconsistency at home continues, after a late Callum Elder goal snatches a draw for Hull.

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We go out of the cup to Premier League Wolves, despite performing well. Adam Lewis and Dilan Markanday miss crucial penalties in the shootout.

A frustrating loss to 23rd placed Middlesbrough follows, but we close out the month with three consecutive wins. Jordan Chapman claims player of the month, with five goals in four games.

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A very good month indeed. We start with an 8-0 thrashing of Birmingham, with Harvey Elliott grabbing four and Randell Williams getting two goal of the season contenders from long range. A 5 goal showing against Cardiff follows, as Jordan Chapman scores for the sixth game in a row.

A disappointing loss to Sunderland, as Dan N'Lundudu grabbed an 87th minute winner. We returned to form against Reading, with Adam Phillips bagging a brace. Comfortable wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea follow, followed by a frustrating draw at Hull, after a long range Borracha strike steals a point.

Transfer Update

Dan Erhardt (£725k from Gladbach) - felt we needed attacking reinforcements, with Carlos Strandberg not performing, and wanting a transfer. Erhardt is a versatile player with bags of potential.

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A bad start to the month as we lose 2-0 to Luton. Tiredness forced us to play a largely weakened team. A comfortable win in the cup follows, as we beat League One AFC Wimbledon.

We beat Leeds with six different players scoring. Sam Lewis gets his first goal for the club with a cracking strike from 25 yards out. After the match, we loan him to Fleetwood to get some more game time.

A strong second half showing against Millwall sees us gain another three points, before another away defeat against QPR. We see out the month by avenging luton, coming from behind with a tap in from Phillips, and a volley from the edge of the box from Meladze, his first goal for the club.

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Jordan Chapman's great form continues, scoring in three consecutive matches. We lose to Brentford thanks to an 86th minute Josh Dasilva winner. We return to winning ways against Sunderland, who gave us a late scare after scoring a 94th minute consolation. Danny Erhardt gets his first goal for the club, and continues his streak against Stoke. The win at Stoke put us top of the table, although we dropped back down to 4th after an annoying home defeat to 22nd placed Preston.

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We beat 24th placed Ipswich in a close game. After that we gain our first ever Premier League victory, absolutely destroying our parent club Aston Villa in the cup. A magnificent performance from Danny Erhadt saw him claim a brace and two assists.

Another late defeat follows at Cardiff, as they score twice in the last ten minutes, before we fall to 4th placed Bristol City. We get a much needed win against play off contending Barnsley.

We faced Liverpool in the cup with a weakened team, as Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott and Ki-Jana Hoever were all ineligible, and Adam Lewis was injured. Liverpool dominate early on, and go ahead thanks to a Haaland header, and a Branthwaite own goal. Roberto Lopez gives us hope with a wonderful solo goal, but a Zannellato own goal and a Mane deflected strike send a strong Liverpool side through to the semi final.

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Six games to go, we have difficult away trips to Leicester, Huddersfield and Crystal Palace still to come.
 

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Coverage of Leicester (2nd) vs Exeter (3rd)

'00 KICK OFF

Daniel Mann (DM): So the most important 90 minutes of the season so far are underway at the King Power Stadium. Leicester know that if they win today, they'll be promoted to the Premier League, whilst Exeter need a win to keep their automatic promotion hopes alive. Exeter beat them earlier in the season, to end an 11 match winning start to the campaign, and since then, the Foxes have struggled, not storming their way to the title as everyone had predicted.

'05 CHANCE

Andy Hinchcliffe (AH): Leicester have been on the front foot here. Deulofeu to take the corner, and it's Berge at the near post, Tangangaaaaaaaaa just over.

DM: Free header for the defender, no idea what Robbie Thompson is doing here. But Tanganga will be disappointed not to score, should be 1-0.

'10 GOAL

DM: Another Leicester corner, Deulofeu to take again, finds Berge at the far post this time, to Tangangaaaaa GOALLLLLLLL! What a big moment for Japhet Tanganga! A big money January signing from Tottenham, and that's his first ever goal for Leicester. That could be the moment that seals promotion to the top flight.

AH: It's obviously a corner routine they've practised in training, only this time Tanganga can finish the chance. Exeter have started slowly, and need to react.

'12 GOAL

AH: Claudio Ramos takes the goal kick, looking for Deulofeu on the left, but Harvey Elliott nicks it off him, and Chapman is with him in support. Elliott runs with it down the right hand side, he's able to hold up the play to wait for more Exeter players, he crosses it in, Borracha heads it down, saved and OHHHHHHHHHHH

DM: Borracha levels for Exeter! He appears out of nowhere, and his first header is saved, but he taps in the rebound. Another big goal for the young Brazilian, and serves as a warning to Leicester, who had been dominating until this point.

'18 GOAL

DM: Exeter looking very good at the moment, passing it around nicely. Erhardt has it on the left, crosses it into Chapman who heads down to Zanellato, who hits a speculative shot OH MY WORD! AN ABSOLUTELY STUNNING GOAL FROM NICCOLO ZANELLATO!

AH: That's become a bit of a trademark for the Italian, and it's his ninth goal of the season. What an important player he has been for Tom James, and he's come up with a goal here that could help them win automatic promotion.

'35 GOAL

DM: Exeter have put together another patient passing move. And now Adam Lewis has it in the box, passes it to Chapman who lays it off to Borrachaaaaaaaaaaa WHAT A GOAL! Borracha lets fly with his weaker left foot, and manages to slam the ball into the net. Leicester have been stunned today, and it's a long way back for them now! Tom James is fist pumping in the dugout, and he has every reason to.

'36 CHANCE

AH: Exeter City are sensing Leicester's vulnerability right now, Elliott pings a ball to Erhardt, and Claudio Ramos manages to claw it away. That effort came so close to going over the line, but Ramos prevents another goal for the Grecians.

'82 GOAL

AH: Leicester finally get the ball in Exeter's half, after sustained pressure. Pederaza has it on the left hand side, launches a cross GOAL!!!

DM: Well well well, that certainly puts the cat amongst the pigeons. Aly Gueye, on as a substitute, heads home for his 11th goal of the season, and could the comeback be on?

FULL-TIME

DM: And there goes the final whistle. Exeter City win 3-2 at the King Power, and remain in the hunt for automatic promotion. Leicester know that they'll still go up if they beat Millwall next week, while Exeter face a difficult trip to Selhurst Park to face play-off hunting Crystal Palace.
 

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Coverage of the Championship final day

17:00

JS: So after nine months of football, and forty five games, the Championship season reaches its final day. Relegation to League One has already been decided, but anything could happen at the top of the table. Huddersfield and Leicester know that they just need to win to secure promotion. For Exeter and Bristol, they need to hope for a favour from Millwall or Stoke elsewhere if they are to go up automatically. And Crystal Palace, Barnsley and Reading are all in contention for that last play off place.

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Crystal Palace 0-1 Exeter (Erhardt)

17:35


JS: So Middlesbrough are ALREADY 2-0 up against Barnsley at the Riverside, and you feel that could be that for Barnsley's play-off...

Paul Merson (PM): Good ball OH ITS A GOAL!

JS: Well well, Exeter knew they would probably have to win today if they wanted to go up automatically... and they've made a fantastic start at St James's Park.

PM: It comes from the Liverpool lad Neco Williams, he pings in a perfect ball for Danny Erhardt, and he can't miss. 1-0 Exeter.

JS: That goal puts Exeter top of the table ahead of Leicester on goal difference. That's Erhardt's 6th goal since joining from Borussia Mochengladbach in January, and he's made a big impact today. Crystal Palace stay in 6th thanks to Barnsley losing, but the fans at the Madejski will be hoping things stay as they are, and that they can find the lead against Birmingham.

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Crystal Palace 1 (Isak) - 1 Exeter City

17:43


JS: Merse, any signs of Crystal Palace looking more urgent now since that Reading goal.

PM: Well the crowd is getting right behind the players Jeff, they know they need to turn this around if they want to reach the playoffs, because Reading should be beating Birmingham comfortably really. Isak has the ball on the right now, he gets it past Robbie Thompson, he's being given so much space. Oh he's in the box now, Exeter bodies, chanceeeee GOAAAAAAL!

JS: A big, big goal for Alexander Isak, who continues his fine scoring record against Exeter.

PM: Yeah don't know what Exeter's defence were doing, Thompson and erm Zanelleonato both slide in and get nowhere near, the save from the keeper is good, but an easy rebound for Isak.

JS: I believe it's pronounced Zan-ell-at-o, Merse!

PM: Sorry Jeff, thought that was a type of pasta dish!

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Preston 0-1 Bristol City (Powell)
Crystal Palace 1-2 Exeter City (Zanellato)

17:52


Matt Le Tissier (MLT): OH MY WORD WHAT A GOAL!!!!!!!!!

JS: Huge, huge goal at Deepdale. Matt Le Tissier.

MLT: Well if this is the goal that seals the Championship title, it'll go down as one of the best title winning goals in history. Joe Powell for Bristol City takes the ball from the half way line, he dribbles his way past three players, before curling one into the top corner from 30 yards. Absolute scenes at Deepdale!

JS: So there's a third different leader today, as Bristol City reach the -

PM: GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!

JS: Well Bristol City were top for a matter of seconds. NOT ANYMORE!

PM: It's an absolute howler from the Palace keeper, who has played so well today. It should be an easy save, Zanell--- the Italian fella has a header from the edge of the box, and Dubravkova just doesn't react at all. A bizarre bizarre goal, but Exeter deserve their lead.

JS: Martin Dubravka is who I think you mean, Merse, sorry to give you all these tricky names today. It's Zanellato's ninth goal of the season, and what a signing he's turned out to be. Exeter return to the top of the table.

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Crystal Palace 2 (Isak) - 2 Exeter City

18:06


PM: CHANCE GOALLLLLLLLLLLL

JS: Another goal at St James's Park, and fans of Huddersfield, Bristol City and most importantly Crystal Palace will be delighted to hear about this one.

PM: It's Alexander Isak again, and it's more shoddy Exeter defending. One of the Palace midfielders plays a ball which Thompson has to cut out, but instead it finds Isak, who taps it in for the equaliser. 2-2 here, what a game.

JS: Exeter go back down to fourth, Palace still lie just outside the playoff places, they need another goal if they're going to ****** 6th spot back.

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Crystal Palace 2-3 Exeter City (Erhardt)

16:10


JS: There's been a FIFTH goal at Selhurst Park, which way Merse?

PM: You've got to give it to this Exeter side, they have so much spirit and self-belief. It comes from a corner which Palace don't deal with properly, and it's Erhardt with it again. His shot takes a massive deflection off of Max Meyer, but they don't mind. Exeter top the league again!

JS: Well Huddersfield fans have spent more time watching their phones than their 0-0 draw against Stoke, as all the action is elsewhere.

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Huddersfield 0-1 Stoke (Haksanbanovic)
Crystal Palace 2-4 Exeter City (Erhardt HAT-TRICK)
Leicester 1-0 Millwall (Pereira)

16:40


JS: Huddersfield still trailing against Stoke's 44th minute goal, and things---

PM: OH HAT-TRICK!

JS: And things have just got even worse for them!

PM: Exeter make it 4-2, and that could be game over! Harvey Elliott swings in a great ball, and Erhardt is there to head home for a hat-trick.

JS: That's the first hat-trick of his professional career, and the City fans will just need to pray that scores remain as they are at the King Power and at---

Phil Thompson (PT): GOOOOOOOOOOAL

JS: WELL, WE HAVE A FOURTH DIFFERENT LEADER TODAY, WHAT'S HAPPENED PHIL THOMPSON?

PT: And it has been coming. Leicester have thrown the kitchen sink at Millwall, and they get their rewards. Deulofeu crosses it in from deep, and Ricardo Peireira sneaks behind his man, heading his side into the lead.

JS: That's his fourth goal of the season, and it may well be the one that clinches the title for Leicester.

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Crystal Palace 2-5 Exeter (Chapman)
Crystal Palace 2-6 Exeter (Lopez)

Leicester 2-0 Millwall (Cantwell PEN)
Leicester 3-0 Millwall (Osimhen)
Leicester 4-0 Millwall (Macias)

Huddersfield 1-1 Stoke (Baker PEN)
Huddersfield 2-1 Stoke (Kean)


18:53

JS: What's the atmosphere like at Selhurst Park like after that Huddersfield equaliser.

PM: It's a weird one, Exeter are 6-2 up but it's eerily quiet here. Exeter just praying now that there's not another goal in Huddersfield.

Charlie Nicholas (CN): GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL

JS: WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT? IT LOOKED AS THOUGH HUDDERSFIELD HAD BLOWN THEIR CHANCES OF AUTOMATIC PROMOTION. CHARLIE NICHOLAS.

CN: Two goals in two minutes for Huddersfield, and they've completely turned it around against Stoke, and now THEY top the table. Masina plays a ball across the box, and Moise Kean is there to tap in. Looks like Exeter will have to settle for the play-offs, unless Stoke can find another goal.

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The Athletic - 📢 The Athletic has arrived in the UK ...


More Play-off Heartbreak for Exeter

By Sally Smith | May 25th 2024

When Exeter stepped onto the Wembley pitch for yet another play-off final under Tom James, many thought it would be a case of third time lucky. Last season would have felt too soon for promotion, but the Devon side have been a solid outfit this year. Lest we forget that they were only ten minutes away from automatic promotion, before Huddersfield turned it around against Stoke, and they came into this match on a six game winning run, scoring three or more in every single game. Danny Erhardt was in electric form, looking every bit a future star of the German national team, whilst many had begun referring to Roberto Lopez as the 'De Bruyne of the Championship', due to his impressive goals and assists record. Exeter had blasted past Reading in the semi finals, surviving a late fightback in the first leg to win 3-2, before a 3-0 home win at St James's Park. To give Bristol City their dues, they also impressed in their 4-1 aggregate win over Newcastle, but it was generally felt that the Grecians had more star power in their ranks to reach the Premier League.

The first sign things weren't quite right was when the team sheets were announced. Tom James knew he had a selection dilemma, with their star midfielder Niccolo Zanellato suspended due to a yellow card in the second leg against Reading, his 20th booking of the season. Many had expected Rob Burton to take his place, the homegrown Exeter lad who memorably scored a 94th minute winner against Newcastle at the start of April to keep the side alive in the promotion hunt. Instead, James named Adam Phillips, the more experienced option, but equally a player woefully short on game time. Perhaps last season's play-off final was in his mind, where a young side eventually crumbled against Derby. But Phillips had not started a game since January, and his only appearance in Exeter's last twenty matches was a brief cameo against Leicester. The second big call was that Jordan Chapman was only deemed fit enough for the bench. With Carlos Strandberg woefully out of form and unhappy at the club, James opted to move Erhardt into a more unfamiliar central striker role, and promote Randell Williams from the bench. Bristol City on the other hand were able to name a full strength side.

The game started well enough for Exeter. Ki-Jana Hoever went close with a header, and Borracha forced Daniel Bentley into a sharp catch from a long range curler. However neither of those efforts were particularly testing, and the side seemed to struggle to get into any sort of rhythm. Bristol's first goal came from Antoine Semenyo, who had scored the winner in their league meeting a few months prior. Adam Phillips was dispossessed on the half way line, and Joe Powell was allowed to somehow saunter his way past Neco Williams and Hoever, pulling it back for Semenyo who was left unmarked by Robbie Thompson, and scored to send the Bristol fans into delirium.

Phillips was sacrificed at half time, with Burton coming on to replace him. Exeter looked better, and created half chance after half chance. Despite this, you never once felt as though they were going to find a way through. Erhardt looked isolated, Harvey Elliott wasn't playing with his usual flair, Roberto Lopez ran his socks off without creating anything. A rare Bristol set piece brought about the second goal. Adam Lewis clumsily shoved Joe Powell during a tussle for a free kick, and the referee pointed straight to the spot. Omar Mascarell came forward, formally of Real Madrid and Schalke, and calmly slotted the ball down the middle. James reacted by throwing on an injured Jordan Chapman in place of Randell Williams.

Things didn't get better for Exeter. When Ryan Edmondson slammed home a third late on, Exeter keeper Samuele Perisan barely bothered to try and save his shot. Robbie Thompson a spectator during one of the biggest games of his career so far. Perhaps Tom James will regret having a starting defence with no players older than 26. The side seemed to be devoid of leaders on this occasion. But then Exeter captain Phillips was one of the worst performers on the day, as was Randell Williams, the most experienced player on the pitch. Under James, Exeter have been to Wembley four times now, and have conceded three in every single match. Is the big stage too daunting for some of their players?

You wonder how much more Tom James can take before he jumps ship to a bigger club. This represents the latest in a cruel line of play-off defeats for Exeter, and the fact he was out of the stadium minutes after the final whistle speaks volumes.
 

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BBC to “change the game” for women's sport | News | IBC


Exeter big winners at EFL Awards

Despite missing out on promotion after their 3-0 play-off defeat to Bristol City, Exeter City's stars looked in high spirits as many of them were honoured at the annual EFL awards.

The main award of the night went to Roberto López, the Spaniard signed from Real Sociedad in the summer. López has impressed at St James's Park, scoring eleven times and creating thirteen goals from an attacking midfield role.

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Jordan Chapman was also amongst the award winners, on the day the club announced they had tied him down to a new four year contract, amid interest from Brighton and West Ham. Chapman won the Golden Boot with 27 goals, six more than his nearest rival. The striker, poached from the Welsh league by Exeter two years ago, was also named EFL Rookie of the Year, following in the footsteps of his team-mate Harvey Elliott, who won the honour last year.

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Exeter were top scorers in the division this year, so it's hardly surprising they had two goals up for Goal of the Season. Randell Williams claimed it, thanks to a stunning long range effort in Exeter's 8-0 victory over Birmingham, beating his team-mate and namesake Neco Williams to the title.

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Champions Huddersfield dominated the Team of the Year with seven players, although Bristol City and Exeter City both had two representatives each, whilst second placed Leicester only had Sander Berge. Roberto Lopez surprisingly missed out, despite being named Player of the Season.

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Huddersfield's Marco Silva was named Manager of the Year. Silva joined the club in 2022, but couldn't save his side from Premier League relegation. After a 7th placed finish last season, Huddersfield were much improved this year, and went up as Champions.

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