Match 32
20th January 2001
Torquay United (away)

TORQUAY UNITED 2 EXETER CITY 1 Division Three, 20 January 2001

(Attendance 4,055)

Torquay United : Ryan Northmore; Steve Tully, Jimmy Aggrey, Lee Russell, Robbie Herrera (sub: Paul Holmes); Khalid Chalqui, Gary Neil, Mark Ford, Kevin Hill (sub: Kevin Parker); Eifion Williams, Tony Bedeau (sub: John Gayle); Manager: Wes Saunders.

Exeter City : Arjan Van Heusden; Neil Whitworth, Chris Curran, Noel Blake (player-manager- sub: Mark Burrows), Graeme Power; Christian Roberts (sub: Graeme Tomlinson), Paul Buckle; John Cornworth (sub: Kwame Ampadu), Mark Rawlinson, Paul Read, Steve Flack.

'Probably the most critical Devon derby of all time' was how one tabloid sports journalist described this match between two sides in the bottom three hovering above Carlisle who had four games in hand. Dire recent form indicated that a win for either side could condemn their rivals to the brink of non-League oblivion!

The match got off to a sensational start when City skipper Chris Curran was red-carded after five minutes for elbowing Khalid Chalqi. In fact, the visitors

seemed hell-bent on beating their record of ten bookings in a match - accu mulated a month earlier - as four of their players were shown the yellow card in the first half. The crude defensive tactics of the depleted Grecians contained United until the stroke of half time, when a rash challenge by John Cornworth brought down striker Tony Bedeau from behind. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and pandemonium broke out as home skipper Mark Ford put his side in front and sparked a pitch invasion with an over-the-top victory jig in front of the Exeter fans.

A disciplined approach after the interval transformed City with forward Christian Roberts showing impressive close skills which tormented the home side, and it was no more than the visitors deserved when he set up the chance for Mark Rawlinson to blast home an equaliser in the seventieth minute. Exeter squandered good chances to clinch the match but just as the teams seemed ready to settle for a point apiece, the game was decided by a Plymouthian substitute Kevin Parker - who was introduced by the Gulls in the eighty-ninth minute. Deep into injury time, he darted through the City defence and chipped the ball over the sprawling 'keeper, and was then promptly booked for removing his shirt in celebration.

'Someone at this club must have run over a black cat and reversed back over it to finish the job,' groaned John Cornworth to waiting newsmen, as this result piled on the agony for the Grecians. However, watching the game was Spurs legend Steve Perryman. He agreed to assist player-manager Noel Blake as an unpaid 'football consultant' and the club's fortunes improved enough to ease them clear of the relegation mire.



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