For Exeter City fans there was no early pre Christmas presents or tasters of what was to come out of the festive programme last Saturday, in what was the first of two Devon derbies, writes Gareth Hughes.

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Plymouth Argyle were the visitors to St James Park and the 6,500 fans were served up with a disappointing 1-1 draw which failed to ignite the taste buds. City scored the first goal, and when the fans asked and urged for more the team in red and white on this occasion had nothing left to give, and by the end of the game we were grateful the point earned. Whilst fans rightly bemoan City’s lack of home form this season it was hoped that this was the opportunity for the team to overcome whatever it is in the mind-set of the players that prevents them playing with the freedom and expression that has earned them seven away wins out of 11 games played compared to the three games won at home out of the same number of games played.

The good news is that the point kept City in the play off zone, and that Liam Sercombe scored his first goal of the season after 34 minutes. Jamie Cureton who already has 15 goals to his name could easily have added a couple more to his tally but inextricably for him missed two gold plated opportunities when he had only the keeper to beat. Yes, they would have been game changers, but what disappointed more was the period of play just into the second half after Plymouth made their three substitutions. Exeter’s defence were under siege for a long period, but had no answers and could not respond to the pressure. Inevitably Plymouth found their way through to goal and it was another first, this time for Joe Lennox scoring the first goal of his professional career for his team. Only the manager Paul Tisdale will have the say on how to improve his team and whether its confidence issues or fear of making mistakes at home. Certainly fans will want to see some changes if only to give players like Jimmy Keohane and Kevin Amankwaah a chance to start after they personally impressed and made a difference after coming on as substitutes last week. Paul Tisdale post match comments included: “It was a very scrappy, even sort of game and we’re slightly disappointed we lost the lead. We had our chance to go 2-0 up and didn’t take it.”

This Saturday it another Devon derby as City fans travel the short distance to Torquay. There is a lot to play for in this game as a win for the Gulls would take them ahead of City in the League Two table. Torquay have a good home record of winning six and drawing four games out of the 11 played whilst the Grecians have only lost three away games out of the 11 played. A Grecian win will make it a respectable for points out of the last two games played, and anything else will be like an expensive unwanted present. There were lessons to be learnt from the Plymouth game and the players will want to atone for the disappointment of last week.

Come on you Reds, in Tis we trust, and a merry Christmas and happy new year to everyone.

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