22nd April 1989
A NIGHTMARE FOR COOMBE
But that's football!
Torquay Utd 0-4 Exeter City
Match Report by David Thomas.
If you had suggested at about twenty-past three at Bootham Crescent, York, on November 5 that the man in goal for Torquay United would six months later be a warm favourite for the club's Player of The Year, you would either have been on the end of several sideways looks or somebody would have nipped out to have a few bob on the Gulls being relegated. At the time Kenny Veysey, on his debut for United, had managed to miss his first cross by a comfortable margin, mispunched another, dived over a low shot that somehow hit his tummy and stayed out and had very little idea about a penalty that spun off his legs and over the bar. Yor could have been three or four up. Veysey survived, United drew 1-1 and the lad has never looked back. That's how it goes in football.
At Plainmoor on Saturday Mark Coombe also made his debut in goal for Torquay, while the injured Veysey watched from the stands. And this time there was no such luck for the local boy who had been looking forward so much to keeping goal for his home-town club. He made the worst possible start, mis-timing his leap to a long cross by Exeter City left-back Richard Dryden and being beaten in the air by striker Richard Young's header. It was a mistake, Coombe was punished for it and in a derby match with pride and- play-off places at stake,it was not what United needed to spread confidence. The match and result will now be linked with Coombe's name. And, if that in itself is a bit unfair, it will set an interesting test of his character. He looks like having an early chance, against Exeter City tomorrow night, to make up for Saturday and more power to him if he comes through it all. It was difficult to tell on Saturday exactly how many United players were still back at Molineux, or maybe at Wembley, but it was quite a few. In the Fourth Division, it only needs one or two to be operating at less than maximum efficiency for the whole machine to stutter to a halt. "After The Lord Mayor's Show" was the popular verdict. Exeter City, counter-attacking with lively minds and plenty of physical commitment, thoroughly deserved to complete a seven-goal "double" over their old rivals. In Shaun Taylor, Lee Rogers, Steve Neville and Darran Rowbotham, they had the men of the match. Yet it might have been far more interesting from United's point of view if they had taken any one of several chances that went begging before City scored their second goal in the 49th minute. Territorially, United were on top for most of the first- half, with good approach work from Mark Loram and Carl Airey and eager running from ex-City striker Dean Edwards. But a total of 40 goals in 39 league games speaks for itself. and the nearest miss went to centre-half Matthew Elliott in the tenth minute - City's rookie 'keeper Kevin Miller somehow kept out his downward header from a Tom Kelly free-kick and Elliott's attempted follow-up. City always looked dangerous on the break, through a formation that linked up their biggest striker Young on the right against United left-back Kelly and left Neville and Rowbotham to cause problems on the ground for United centre-halves Elliott and Phil Lloyd. United's cause was not helped at half-time, when Kelly retired with a leg injury. United moved Loram, their best forward, to left-back and added right-winger Paul Smith to their attack. They should still have equal- ised in the 46th minute when Paul Hirons beat Banks on the left and put Dean Edwards clear. His shot beat Miller and looked a certain goal until Dryden managed to keep it out with an acrobatic hook off the line. Smith nearly squeezed home the loose ball with a backheel, but that was nudged wide for a corner too.
Three minutes later it was 2-0, as Young started and finished a move with Brian McDermott on the left, his eight-yard near-post header unstoppable. United, trying desperately to retrieve the lost cause, went close through a John Morrison 30-yard drive and a good chance that Smith pulled wide in the 69th minute. But City, growing in confidence and eager to prove a point, were enjoying themselves enormously by now and they were handed two more goals before the finish. In the 73rd minute a bad mix-up between Coombe and Loram just inside the penalty area meant that Rowbotham had only to touch the ball to ensure his 22nd goal of the season. And ten minutes from time more lack of communication between Coombe and a defender, this time Elliott, enabled McDermott to nip between the two and squeeze home City's fourth from the narrowest of angles. It was painful stuff for United and Coombe, who had booked himself a place in future sports quizzes as the man who conceded eight goals against Exeter City in one season. The poor guy had been on the wrong end of a 2-4 defeat at St James Park in December when he was with Colchester United. There were bookings for City's Banks and United's Edwards for a half-hearted fracas just before half-time, and Airey was lucky to escape with at least a caution for a ragged tackle on Hiley seconds later.
TORQUAY UNITED (4-3-3):
Coombe: McNichol. Elliott, Lloyd, Kelly (Smith P. 45 mins); Morrison, Weston. Hirons. Edwards. Aired. Loram,
sub not used-Pugh.
EXETER CITY (4-3-3): Miller. Banks, Rogers, Taylor, Dryden, Hiley, Benjamin. McDermott, Young. Rowbotham. Neville, subs not used Smith K. and Harris.
Referee. Mr J. Carter (Christchurch).