Exeter manager Matt Taylor praised his 10-man team’s comeback at Harrogate, after he felt the hosts were wrongly awarded a penalty for the game’s opening goal.
Even opposition boss Simon Weaver admitted that the 42nd-minute foul on Alex Pattison for Jack Muldoon’s successful spot-kick occurred outside the 18-yard area, with midfielder Harry Kite also receiving his marching orders for a second bookable offence in the incident.
But Josh Key went on to secure a 1-1 draw for the Grecians in the 78th minute and ended the Sulphurites’ 100 per cent start to the Sky Bet League Two campaign in the process.
A pleased Taylor said: “The game changed just before half-time with the decision over the red card and the penalty. Up to that point, we had been creating enough chances and moving the ball really well.
“Then, there was a bit of naivety from one of our young players who should not have gone to ground, but the foul was outside of the box and we’ve ended up being punished double whammy.
“It was a huge moment and, as much as you’re disappointed with the referee, I was more frustrated with the linesman because he was in line with the incident and had the best view in the ground.
“But the way we responded in the second half was outstanding. The lads did what they needed to do and, even though we got a bit of a luck with a ricochet for the goal, we thoroughly deserved a point and, if Alex Hartridge had put that header in, we could have been going home with three.”
Taylor was also pleased with his players’ reaction to a nightmare journey up from Devon on Friday that saw the squad only reach their overnight hotel at 10pm after the team bus broke down on the M1 near Sheffield.
The Exeter chief added: “It’s part and parcel of being at a club like Exeter, but we need to get these things right.”
Harrogate manager Simon Weaver was disappointed that his team could not take advantage of a favourable decision from the officials and their numerical advantage, saying: “I’m not sure the infringement for the penalty took place inside the box and we were not at our best in the first half.
“We knew we had to improve in the second half, but we did not take the game by the scuff of the neck. That might have been down to energy levels being low or too many players putting in five out of 10 or six out of 10 performances.
“I’m still very proud of the start to the season we have had, but we allowed their forward to turn and then didn’t stop the ball coming into our box or put our bodies on the line when it did, but you can’t play 40-plus games always being bang on.”
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