FOOTBALL is as guilty as any other industry at taking for granted the things that deserve our gratitude.
The saying ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’ often rings true when a player leaves or gets injured and that affects the balance and dynamic of the side. And never a truer word spoken when it comes to Exeter City.
The club’s record-breaking six-game winning run was built on a consistent side playing with confidence, flair and togetherness.
But when defender Jordan Moore-Taylor limped off injured at half-time during last weekend’s away encounter at Coventry City, it was hoped City’s deep squad could paper over the crack.
Yet his departure contributed to Exeter’s first defeat of the season as they conceded two second-half goals to go down 2-0 at The Ricoh Arena.
Manager Paul Tisdale cut a frustrated figure in the post-match interviews as he clearly felt Moore-Taylor’s injury could have avoided had he pulled out of a tackle he didn’t need to make.
He knew straight away that Moore-Taylor’s injury, which could sideline him for more than a month, would disrupt the flow of his side.
His central partnership with Troy Brown had helped to yield four clean sheets out of four home games at home heading into the midweek top-of-the-table clash against Notts County.
But Moore-Taylor was sorely missed against the Magpies as Exeter slumped to a punishing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Kevin Nolan’s table-topping side.
Much of what Moore-Taylor does is taking for granted as defending is not the sexy side of football and rarely captures the headlines reserved for goalscorers or match-winners.
But the City youth product, who is clearly capable of playing at a higher level, is dominant in the air, quick to read danger and always puts his body on the line.
The amount of blocks he makes during matches sometimes goes unnoticed and his partnership with Brown is surely one of the best central defensive pairings in the League.
So the news that Moore-Taylor is set to miss a number of games has dealt a blow to Exeter’s hopes of maintaining their good start to the season.
Two straight defeats heading into yesterday’s home match against Morecambe underlines his importance to the side.
And with Luke Croll struggling to shake off the injury sustained in last month’s Checkatrade Trophy defeat against Yeovil, the Grecians are now short in the central defensive area.
Troy Archibald-Henville deputised against Notts County but the former Tottenham Hotspur defender has played very little first-team football in the last 12 months and looked a little off the pace against the Magpies.
Moore-Taylor is not the only player currently sidelined, as Ryan Harley is still not fully fit after suffering an injury in pre-season and Robbie Simpson is recovering from a broken ankle picked up in a 2-2 draw against Blackpool back in February.
Former Plymouth striker Ryan Brunt, who spent all of last season with a knee injury, has not appeared on the bench in the last few games, sparking fears that he, too, might have suffered a set-back in his comeback journey.
The Grecians are back on the road on Saturday as they make the long journey to Carlisle United to face Keith Curle’s men.
The Grecians had some intriguing contests against the Cumbrians last season, losing both League games 3-2 before facing them in a two-legged play-off semi-final.
After drawing 3-3 in a thrilling first leg at Brunton Park, Tisdale’s side booked a trip to Wembley when a last-gasp winner saw them edge a 3-2 victory at St James’ Park.
So, having shared 21 goals in four pulsating encounters last season, you would expect more goals at the weekend.
Carlisle have suffered a play-off hangover, winning just three of their opening ten games as they struggle to recapture the blistering form which saw them gate-crash the play-offs last season.
But with boss Curle calling for calm from supporters frustrated at the club’s faltering start, Tisdale will not be taking anything for granted when Exeter make the 700-mile round trip to Brunton Park.
Elsewhere, former Exeter midfielder Ethan Ampadu’s stock continues to rise after he earned a call-up to the Wales squad for two pivotal World Cup qualifying matches against Georgia and Republic of Ireland.
It is the second time the 17-year-old has been included in Chris Coleman’s squad, although he has yet to make his international debut having been an unused substitute in recent matches against Austria and Moldova.
Ampadu, who moved to Stamford Bridge this summer, has already made his Chelsea debut – replacing Cesc Fabregas in a Carabao Cup tie with Nottingham Forest – and Coleman has likened the youngster to Blues star David Luiz.