Whilst the Exeter fans seem very grounded and honest, the Devon media have been ramping up the heat with a fairly interesting piece about Danny Cowley. Quite rightly, Cowley feels Exeter do have the advantage as they’re the home side in the second leg, but he’s been accused by local reporter Stuart James of ‘mind games’.
He wrote: “All seemed nice and friendly when Imps boss Danny Cowley, City counterpart Paul Tisdale and the respective coaching staffs shook hands and hugged as the stalemate gave neither side much of an advantage ahead of Thursday’s second leg at St James’ Park. But in his post-match press conference, Cowley was quick to fire a shot by suggesting that all the pressure is on Exeter heading into Thursday’s huge second leg.”
Is James so well-informed that he believes Lincoln are as good away from home as in front of 9,000 of our own supporters? Surely, being at home and looking to win a game is better than having to go away and do so, is it not?
Danny’s post match conference covered Exeter having the advantage, with our manager saying: “Everyone will be expecting Exeter to go through on the back of this result but you have to kill us to beat us. They will feel it’s a job well done and they’ll expect to win the tie back at their place but we’re pretty determined and we fight really hard. We’ll be giving it all we’ve got, that’s for sure.”
Of course Exeter will feel it is job done, that is why for at least 45 minutes they looked happy playing for a draw. Some sections of our own support felt the same, as if both sides wanted the cagey first leg over and done with so we could get on with the main event. There was a feeling amongst many that the Sincil Bank game was merely the trailers to the movie, whilst the St James Park leg will be the action-packed spectacle we hoped to see.
The other point James made which I have to mention is average weekly wage. He says, according to footy.com (which definitely sounds like it would know the wages we pay our players) that we pay £1712 on average per week, whilst Exeter pay £995. According to footballsquads.com, an equally as dubious site, we have a squad of 24 whilst Exeter have 39. Now, if those figures are taken into account, we have a wage bill of £41k per week, whilst Exeter’s is £38.8k. Not so different now, eh Stuart?
The truth is this: These two teams are evenly matched in approaches, personnel and size. Admittedly, we’d take more than 600 to the away leg had it been on a Saturday, but I’m not one to get all big headed about fan numbers. I am one to get indignant about local media trying to portray us as one of the big spenders when we’ve already been shown to actually have a mid table budget when compared to many of the other sides in this league, Exeter included.
Exeter do take an advantage into the game, but you’d never bet against Lincoln City in a one-off game. If we do go up I truly believe it is a season too early, my heart tells me with one or two new faces we could lift the title next season, but you never turn down promotion when it comes your way. We’re on a roll, success breeds success and no matter what happens, it’s nice to know we’re still pushing in the right direction.
It’s also nice to hear Dan talk about our facilities and atmosphere in such a positive light. Things are right all around this football club and, whatever the outcome Thursday, we must not lose sight of that.
All photos courtesy of Graham Burrell