Match 01
25th August 1990
Reading (home)



Having gone unbeaten at home throughout last season, a defeat against Reading at the Park was the last thing City wanted to get their 1990/91 Third Division campaign underway. However, nobody was writing City off after this impressive display, and with the general consensus of opinion being that it is better for us to lose our infallible tag sooner rather than later, there seems to be much cause for optimism about the season ahead.

The early stages saw a good deal of huffing and puffing from both sides, but all with very little end result as both midfields battled for territorial advantage. The only real danger for City's defence seemed to be from set-pieces, and it was indeed from a free-kick twenty yards out that Steve Moran shot Reading into a seventeenth minute lead.

City fought back strongly, with the hard working midfield providing a solid platform for the wide men, notably right back Scott Hiley, to push forward. However, we didn't really threaten the Reading goal until a quickly taken free kick allowed Clive Whitehead to dart into the penalty area and drag the ball back for Gordon Hobson to stroke home a 36th minute equaliser on his City league debut.

Half-time came with the score at I-I and Reading pressing forward, but the second half started with a flurry of Exeter attacks. The first ten minutes saw keeper Steve Francis and his Reading defence perform heroics to keep City out. Francis saved a close range Hobson effort as well as a goalbound twenty-five yard curler from the City striker. Shaun Taylor saw his header cleared off the line, and with Hiley and McDermott in particular swinging in perfect crosses, the St James Park crowd were continually finding celebratory cheers sticking in their throats.

With City seemingly encamped in the Reading half, it seemed impossible to imagine the visitors snatching a 2-1 lead, but that's exactly what they did just short of the hour mark. Admittedly the goal was one of sheer quality, with Craig Maskell's cross being cleverly dummied by Steve Moran for Trevor Senior to apply the coolest of finishing touches, but for the majority of the 5,700 crowd this cruel blow was hard to take.

City battled on admirably, but a second free-kick goal - a virtual carbon copy of the first, but this time from Craig Maskell - put paid to any hopes of Exeter avoiding an opening day home reverse. In the end credit must go to Reading for their set piece precision and stout-hearted defending, but with the corner count standing at sixteen to two in our favour, the harsh reality of Third Division football has been all too clearly spelled out



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