Match 04
4th September 1990
Football League Cup 1st Round 2nd Leg
Notts County


With Richard Dryden's goal in the first leg bringing the two sides level, both City and County were always going to be in for a tense night at Meadow Lane. Ultimately, a slip up in the Exeter defence just before half-time allowed England Under 21 international Tommy Johnson to settle the tie with the game's only goal.

It had been an infuriating first-half for City, continually caught offside by Notts County's tight defence, but having survived a good deal of pressure from the homesters - with Johnson, Dean Yates and Gary Lund all guilty of missing chances Exeter had begun to look a good deal stronger as the game wore on.

The goal came about following an uncustomary, inaccurate headed clearance by skipper Shaun Taylor only seconds before the break. Kevin Bartlett picked up the loose ball and sent in a nightmare cross which Tommy Johnson was quickest to react to, nodding home smartly at the near post.

City played with much more purpose in the second half, and it was heartening to see the Second Division side forced on to the defensive as the lively Grecians' midfield dominated. With Ben Rowe coming off the bench to replace Steve Neville, and Clive Whitehead in enigmatic mood on the left, Notts' highly rated defence was put to the test with a varied stream of attacks.

The best chance for Exeter fell to Gordon Hobson early in the second period. A pin-point Whitehead cross found Hobson in space on the far post, but the City striker headed narrowly over with the goal gaping. Paul Batty, Richard Dryden, Scott Hiley and Ben Rowe all saw good chances cleared or missed the target as City attacked purposefully, encouraged by the 130 or so followers behind Steve Cherry's goal.

With full-backs Dryden and Hiley virtually operating as wingers, there was plenty of space behind the central pairing of Rogers and Taylor for County to exploit with their familiar long ball game. Kevin Miller made half a dozen good saves coming off his line to thwart Johnson and Lund, taking a boot in the face for his troubles in an incident which saw Gary Lund booked.

As time wore on the tackling became increasingly ferocious with City short of numbers at the back, and County clinging on to their 2-1 aggregate lead. The final whistle, preceded by anxious reminders from the home supporters, brought to the end a thrilling night of cup football for the 4,204 crowd with City suffering an early League Cup exit, but once again showing their unquestionable commitment and real promise for the campaign ahead.



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