Match 19
3rd November 1992
Bolton Wanderers (home)

Park gloom as Ball's boys lose

Exeter City 1 Bolton 3

EXETER CITY go to Hartlepool next weekend. Never will they be so happy to journey almost 400 miles away from St James's Park. Two home defeats in three days, culminating in last night's pitiful humbling by Bolton, have presented City with a formidable task to prove they are not Division 2 relegation material by the time the mid-season derby with old enemies Plymouth Argyle arrives, writes Ed Hogg. Before last weekend's 2-1 debacle against Fulham, Alan Ball's side were struggling but bubbling. Although only two places clear of the mire, they hadn't lost in five outings and five weeks and a pair of rapid-fire home dates suggested they were upwardly mobile. Now the picture is unmistakably gloomy. Exeter reside in the relegation frame, just three points clear of the outfits beneath them and significantly. more of their ration of home games than Chester and Huddersfield. After their gutless display against Bolton, City will have to swiftly rediscover their fighting qualities - starting at the Victoria Ground next Saturday, and continuing when Chester visit the Park a fortnight later if they are not to be sucked any deeper into trouble. The inclusion of ace marksman Andy Walker in Bruce Rioch's starting line- up might have suggested the fate that was to befall City. Walker, although on target in both his previous outings against Exeter, had yet to finish on the winning side. But the fit-again Scotsman, without a start since September 12, struck twice and made another to put that record straight. It was grim from the off. Barely 50 seconds had elapsed before City 'keeper Kevin Miller began a busy evening by brilliantly denying David Reeves from 10 yards after Alan Stubbs' free-kick had fallen to him off Walker. Two minutes later Miller plunged to his left to keep out a drive from on-loan Southampton flankman David Lee when Reeves' neat pass had caught the Exeter rearguard flat-footed. Immediately Miller had to deal with a Scott Green effort, when Bolton cleared an ineffective City corner and broke quickly. Bizarrely John Hodge should have put the home side into an unmerited 15th minute lead when he burst away on to Andy Cook's clearance. But the winger- drove wide with just Keith Branagan to beat. Wanderers had the midfield battle sewn up and, with Exeter's passing veer- ing between the erratic and the atro- cious, found chances aplenty. Andy Harris presented Green with the chance to shoot over from 20 yards and then Stubbs was allowed to stroll unchaperoned into the Exeter penalty area to meet Green's throw-in and unleash a volley that Miller blocked superbly. It was only Miller's efforts that kept City in the contest at the interval. Jon Brown helped out soon after the restart by blocking Lee's 15-yarder and then Walker charitably volleyed wide when Reeves flicked-on Lee's free-kick. City somehow found the best move so far, with Kelly freeing Hodge for an instant cross that David Cooper was almost able to divert goalwards, but Miller then had to produce a magnificent double save to deny Reeves and Walker. But on 65 minutes the floodgates opened. Miller was powerless to stop Nicky Spooner's neat finish after his defence had been bisected by Walker's return ball and, after 74 minutes, absent marking allowed Walker to despatch Lee's cross at the far post. Immediately Walker swept home his seventh of the campaign from 10 yards when Lee stepped past Peter Whiston's challenge and through Scott Hiley's. And only Miller's reflexes denied Bolton a fourth, from Reeves, before Hodge sprung the visitors' offside trap eight minutes from time to walk home his sixth goal of the season.

Match Report 2


This was City's second home defeat in four days with Bolton scoring three goals in an 11 minute spell between the 65th and 76th minutes. It was only the brilliance of goalkeeper Kevin Miller who had held Wanderers strikers at bay with a string of fine saves. But he was powerless to prevent Nick Spooner opening the scoring after play ing a one-two with Andy Walker and nine minutes later the Scottish International striker scored twice in as many minutes to finish the game as a contest. City did pull a goal back eight minutes from time when John Hodge beat the offside trap to round Wanderers goal keeper Keith Branagan and score his fifth league goal of the season.



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