Match 49
20th April 1991
Tranmere Rovers (a)


Tranmere Rovers 1 Exeter City 0

by Special Correspondent

THIS game demonstrated just frow little there is to choose between sides in the Third Division this season whether they be in the top or bottom half. Exeter City matched Tranmere all the way at Prenton Park and were possibly a little unlucky to suffer their first defeat in six league outings.

Manager Terry Cooper claimed the best side lost but possibly he exaggerated somewhat. Certainly Tranmere were never allowed to play their fluent style of foot- ball but they did create some good opportunities which brought the best out of City 'keeper Kevin Miller. Exeter produced some good approach work but lost their way in front of goal, which was just as well as home 'keeper Eric Nixon seemed somewhat out of sorts. He was fortunate to see Dave Higgins hook a Shaun Taylor header off the line when stranded in the 45th minute and again fortune smiled on him when Taylor put a secon- d-half header wide of a gaping goal. Darren Boughey and Gary Marshall were often involved in the promising Exeter build-up but Mur- ray Jones and substitute Steve Neville discovered it was just not their day. Neville joined the action after only 24 minutes with Darran Rowbotham switching to midfield. Tom Kelly, already booked ar 16 minutes for a foul, W. 01 on a stretcher eight ins later with an injury to hi medial ligaments after a clash with Jim Harvey and he may not play again this season. Taylor, despite his misses in front of goal, had an excellent game for City whose defence coped well for the most part although Jonathan Brown had a difficult task against livewire John Morrissey who turned out to be Rovers' match winner. But on this showing Tranmere did not really look promotion material. Manager John King was just glad of maximum points after three successive league. defeats. "There are no easy games and Exeter made it difficult for us" admitted King afterwards. "It could have gone against us but we grabbed the vital goal". Cooper felt Exeter dominated the second half. They did make Tranmere look uncomfortable at time but, without the necessary finish, it counted for little. The Exeter boss still clained: "The best side lost today" Home strikers Jim Steel and Steve Cooper were ineffective for the most part, which was a tribute to the Exeter defence, and the home midfield was never able to assume the ascendency. Play was disjointed at times and some feeling crept into the game. Two players from each side were cautioned. Miller, with a poor clearance, almost let in Mor- rissey after four minutes but the winger fired over. Then the 'keeper brilliantly turned a power drive by Shaun Garnett over the bar after 19 minutes and saved with his leg from Jim Harvey in 34 minutes. But he could do nothing in the 41st minute when Morrissey danced past two defenders after collecting an ideal pass from Harvey and fired an unstoppable shot into the top left-hand corner. Another excellent save by Miller from Garnett three minutes into the second half, when he turned the shot around the post for a corner, kept the game alive but to be fair it was Tranmere and not Exeter who were glad to hear the final whistle.

Nixon Higgins, Mungall, McNab, Garnett, Vickers, Morrissey, Harvey (Irons 73), Steel, Cooper, Thomas. Sub Malkin.

Exeter City:
Miller, Hiley, Brown, Dryden, Taylor, Kelly(Neville 24) Rowbotham, Hobson, Boughey Jones. Marshall. Sub Frankland.

Ref: John Kirkby of Sheffield.

Attendance: 5,278.

Higgins, McNab (Tranmere)
Kelly, Hobson (Exeters) all fouls.





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