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Matt Taylor pays tribute to Exeter after win leaves them on brink on promotion

Matt Taylor’s Exeter are on the brink of promotion (Tim Markland/PA)
Matt Taylor’s Exeter are on the brink of promotion (Tim Markland/PA)

Exeter manager Matt Taylor paid tribute to his players as they moved to within one win of promotion to League One with a 2-0 victory over Rochdale at St James Park.

After a nervy start, Tim Dieng guided an Archie Collins free-kick into the net for the opening goal before Matt Jay’s diving header sealed the win and left the Grecians on the brink of a return to the third tier for the first time in 10 years.

“It’s a big win, especially on the back of (losing at) Tranmere on Monday and the first 10, 15 minutes of that game, where Rochdale have had a couple of chances and put us under pressure, but also in terms of where we want to be at the end of the season,” Taylor said.

“I had to make a small tweak after the first 10-15 minutes because they were on top but, from that point on, we created the better chances and had the momentum and force and pressure and feel about the game, although they still had a threat about them.

“For the players to reach 80 points with three games to spare is an outstanding achievement and they need to celebrate that, enjoy it and get ready for Tuesday.

“We have to make the most of it. It’s another opportunity to win points, but today has been really big on the back of the really good, positive feel here on Friday and the downside on Monday and that is bound to happen.

“It will be special if we can do it in front of our own fans on Tuesday, but it would be special if we do it at Northampton, or the last game of the season.

“It’s just great to see the colour, the atmosphere, the ground full and shows the feel-good factor around the club.”

Rochdale boss Robbie Stockdale said: “It was a tough game, they probably look like they are going to get promoted from our division so we knew it was always going to be very difficult.

“In the first 25 minutes, we were excellent. We dominated the game and should have been 2-0 up in the first 10 minutes, cut them open time and time again.

“It was a dubious free-kick for me, sometimes you get, sometimes you don’t. They put the ball in our goal from the set-piece which is always disappointing.

“In the second half, we struggled to click into gear and the second goal kills the game and we found it difficult to have any momentum and any control.

“In any game, the first goal is usually important and it was today. If we get that first goal when we should have, then it piles on a lot more pressure on them but the fact they got it, the crowd lifts and makes it a very difficult job for us.”

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