Exeter scored just their fourth goal in 14 matches to beat Wycombe 1-0 at St James Park and while it was not a thing of beauty, it meant everything to manager Gary Caldwell.
City’s poor form – they had not won in League One since September 16, a run of 13 games – has seen fans call for a change in manager, but the Grecians picked up a win they so desperately needed when Sonny Cox bundled the ball in from close range against a poor Wycombe side.
On-loan goalkeeper Vili Sinisalo then preserved the win with a penalty save deep into stoppage time from Luke Leahy, much to the delight of the under-fire Caldwell.
“It was an amazing goal! You score goals by running towards the scoring zone and by maintaining attacks, not just having one action,” he said.
“Too often we play good football to a point and then nothing comes of it but our energy, enthusiasm and desire to keep going was incredible. The goal summed it up – it is something that we work on and the most amazing goal I have ever seen!
“Sonny is a player with a big future. He went away on loan and showed his quality at a level way below where we are playing, but the way he has come back and shown improvement in his physicality and confidence shows the loan did him the world of good.
“Coming off the bench, he has been outstanding but today, I thought he was outstanding and it was his best performance he has had for this football club and like I have said many times, he has huge potential.
“Then, if you ever want someone to step up to the plate in a big game in a big moment, it is Vil Sinisalo and it was an incredible save from the penalty.
“They were the stand-out moments, but every player, every staff member and every person inside this stadium can be proud.”
Wycombe came close to levelling in stoppage time when Dale Taylor struck the post, before the visitors won a spot-kick when Harry Kite was deemed to have fouled Taylor, only for Leahy to miss the chance.
Wanderers boss Matt Bloomfield said: “I thought we were just off it in the first half. We were half a yard away from second balls when they dropped down and we weren’t compact and condensed enough in our shape and we played a little bit too open.
“Ultimately those little moments start to feed into a bit of momentum for Exeter, we corrected a couple of bits at half-time and I thought we were better in the second half.
“We looked more of a threat and their goal came at a time when we were in the ascendancy. To come so close at the end – the disallowed goal, Dale hitting the crossbar and the penalty…
“The margins of winning and losing games of football are invariable very close and they have been going against us recently.”