In Years Gone By | We're on our way to Wembley... Not quite!

The cup competition for Football League's two lower divisions has appeard under various guises, mainly to suit the sponsers, the most recent being the Johnstone Paints Trophy.

It is also a competition where clubs tend to field fringe first team players, rather than their first choice squad and as result attendances in the early stage have been known to dip below 1,000 for matches.

Exeter City have had mixed fortunes in the cup, but when it was known as the Autoglass Trophy in the seaosn 1992-93, there was every chance that the Grecians could have reached Wembley and the final for the very first time.

As usual there was nothing to suggest that city could be on the brink of club history, with attendacnes at the early games veing pretty poor, but it isn't until the latter stages that spectators sit up and take note that perhaps some success could be justa round the corner.

City started the competition in fine style by thrashing rivals Torquay United 5-0 at St. James' Park on 5th December 1992, before a not unhealthy 2,118 crowd.

Steve Moran netted a hat-trick, including one goal fom the penalty spot, whilst there was a goal each for Eamonn Collins and Eamonn Dolan.

City lined up:- Miller, Hiley, Cook, Bailey, Daniels, Whiston, Collins, Kelly (redwood), Moran, Dolan, Hodge.

The first round was played on a mini-league basis, so the Grecians second match was at Plymouth Argyle, where they achieved a notable 1-1 draw thanks to a goal from Andy Cook in front of 3,761 spectators - Home Park looking very empty.

The City team that evening of 5th January 1993 was:- Miller, Hiley, Cook, Bailey, Daniels (Phillips), Whiston, Brown, Kelly, Moran, Gallen, Tonge (Cooper).

Four points from the two matches was enough to send City into round two, where they were given a home draw against Reading,

The tie, taking place on 9th February, failed to inspire the City faithful, as only 1,677 bothered to make their way along to the park, which was a shame, because they missed an excellent contest.

Goals from Hodge and Tonge gave City a 2-2 scoreline after 90 minutes and extra-time, so the tie went to penalties, and the Grecian won through 4-2.

City's team was:- Miller, Hiley, Cooper, Bailey, Daniels, Brown, Harris, Tonge (Taylor), Jepson, Dolan, Hodge.

Onto the quarter-finals and Exeter faced a potentially tricky tie on the south coast at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Once again, the competition failed to stir the Goldstone Ground, and most must have gone away very disappointed to see their team lose to the only goal of the game netted by Scott Daniels.

Once again, City rang the changes as they lined up: Miller, Hiley, Cooper, Bailey, Daniels, Redwood, Tonge, Taylor, Dolan, McIntyre, Hodge.

Having reached the southern secion semi-final, the interest started to build and 4,971 were at the Vetch to witness Exeter snatch a 3-2 win after extra-time over Swansea City.

Eamonn Dolan, the on loan Jim McIntyre and Ronnie Jepson were the City goalgetters in a team that lined up:- Miller, Hiley, Cook, Bailey, Daniels, Brown, Taylor (Tonge), McIntyre, Jepson, Dolan, Hodge.

Area final time, over two legs, and so close to Wembley. The City commercial team, led by Steve Birley launched various souvenirs to mark the occasion, and a new team photography was taken which is seen on this page.

The first leg at away to Port Vale attracted 8,886 to the game which ended ina 2-1 win for the Valiants, Danny Bailey scoring for City.

City took to the field:- Miller, Brown, Cook (Tonge, Bailey, Daniels, Whiston, Redwod, McIntyre, Jepson, Moran (Dolan), Hodge.

All was to play for in the second leg back at St. James' Park on 21st April 1993, and that was reflected in the attendance of 7,060.

Alas, City's dream of Wembley evaporated as they were held to a 1-1 draw, Jason Minett netting, thus Vale won 3-2 on aggregate to earn themselves a final against Stockport County, which they duly won.

The team against Vale at the Park was:- Miller, Harris. McIntyre, Bailey, Daniels, Brown, Bond, Minett, Moran (Phillips), Dolan, Hodge.

It was a disappointing and agonising end to the competition for the Grecians whose league season resulted in the team finshing in 19th place in the Second Division.

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