Match 23
20 December 2008
Rochdale (h)

Exeter 4 Rochdale 1.

League 2

Saturday 20 December

On a surprisingly blustery day at the Park, City eventually ran out comfortable 4-1 winners against ten man Rochdale in front of a bumper pre- Christmas crowd of 4,326. After a fairly even set of opening exchanges, it was Rochdale who came closest to scoring but it was City who were the architects of the chance. With no one pressursing. Steve Tully looped a suicidal header back to Paul Jones over his defence that fell woefully short. Dale striker John Shaw nipped in to steal the ball and advance on goal, and Jones stayed big and came out to close down well, but all the same Shaw should have done much, much better than dragging his shot wide. Four minutes later Dale had another chance when a break down the left was cut back to a striker who let fly with a terrific effort towards the top corner fortunately Jones was up to the task and sprung cat-like to tip over the bar with a full length dive. Almost immediately City embarked on a lightning break of their own with Neil Saunders showing he's got the skills to pay the bills, sending Tully scampering down the right on the overlap where he sent in a peach of a cross that deflected off a Dale defender drawing a quite superb save from the keeper low down at his near post. However, he couldn't hold onto the ball and Steve Basham was on hand to gleefully smash home from two feet out to give City a somewhat fortuitous 1-0 lead. The game then continued to ebb and flow with neither side really threatening the opposing goal. That is until the half hour mark when Ryan Harley beat the offside trap and burst into the box. Dale defender Scott Wiseman would probably have fared better had he attempted a challenge, instead opting to pull Harley's arm putting him completely off his stride. Harley's protests drew a penalty from the ref, and with Wiseman being the last defender, he had little option but to send him off. With both Richard Logan and Ben Watson having missed penalties recently, it was Bash's turn to try his luck, so up he stepped and nailed it with some aplomb, drilling the ball head height into the middle of the net to make it 2-0 to City and game over. Or so we thought, except immediately from the restart Rochdale broke through in identical fashion to Harley's move moments earlier, but Jones once again stood tall and saved the one on one well. But with half drawing to a conclusion, it was City who finished brightest when first Saunders hit a glorious cross field ball to Bash who lashed a full blooded drive over the angle of post and bar, then minutes later Danny Seaborne rose highest to butt an inswinging Dean Moxey corner over the bar from close range. Thankfully for City fan Lee Wilmott, fiancée Melissa said yes to his half time marriage proposal on the pitch, and soon enough it was time for further cheer with the commencement of the second half! And straight away it was City on the attack with Manny Panther driving through defenders to poke a wind assisted shot over the bar from just outside the box. Five minutes later we nearly had goal of the season, Harley was doing nothing in particular ten yards inside the Dale half and ten yards inside the Old Grandstand touchline. Spotting the keeper marginally off his line the ball was played back to him and he launched the most outrageous dipping drive towards the top comer that the keeper just about scrambled back to tip over at full stretch. Ten minutes after that it was Matthew Gill's turn to chance his arm, flashing a good looking drive inches past the far post after good work down the right from Tully and Saunders and a neat ball across goal from Harley. Then it was time for Adam Stansfield and Basham to take a well earned rest and introduce Craig McAllister and Marcus Stewart into the proceedings. On the half hour Deano capped a fine move Involving Stewart, Tully. Panther and Harley by bursting down the left and unleashing a ferocious drive not unlike his winner against Lincoln a fortnight ago unfortunately this time he had a bit of a rush of blood to the head and smashed his drive high onto the Big Bank instead of into the far comer of the net. A couple of minutes later Manny robbed a dawdling defender inside the centre circle and strode forward with some authority as defenders continued to back offEventually he got to the edge of the area before the defenders thought it about time they tackled, but not before Manny lifted a delicious lob over the keeper that just wouldn't come down quickly enough as it sadly beat the bar as well as the keeper. With ten minutes to go it was time to inttoduce Liam Sercombe at the expense of Saunders as his rehabilitation continues carefully, and then with five minutes remaining it was fellow sub McAllister's turn to make his mark. He received the ball in the centre circle and in a single move turned and advanced goalwards with remarkable speedleaving bemused defenders trailing in his wake, before confidently slotting the ball low under the keeper from about 15 yds out to make it 3-0. But he wasn't finished there, as two minutes later he notched his second nipping in to guide home from close range Sercombe's drilled cross from the goal line making it 4-0 to City
As injury time approached, Rochdale got a consolation, but in somewhat harsh circumstances. Seabome was adjudged to have tangled illegally with a Dale forward as both tussled for a hanging ball inside the City box, and so the ref awarded the second penalty of the game. Despite Jones getting a hand to it, Clark Keltie's powerfully hit shot high to Jones right was just too well hit for him to keep out and thus making the final score 4-1. Not before McAllister nearly provided a devilish quiz question as to when was the last time a City player scored a hat trick coming off the subs bench when he robbed a defender on the touchline, scampered goalwards and tashed low that the keeper did well to smother. Moments later the final whistle blew giving City their biggest home win of the season, as well as helping reduce the damage done to their goal difference by the Chesterfield game a couple of weeks back. But it has to be said that the scoreline does somewhat flatter City, and had Rochdale taken their early chances they could well have been a couple of goals to the good before Bash opened the scoringPlus it might have been different had it remained 11 versus 11, but then again Dale can't really complain when their defenders choose to try and pull players back rather than tackle them instead. It also has to be said that at times City played some scintillating stuff, and especially in the second half passed Rochdale off the Park for huge dollops of the game.

BBC match summary & information 

Exeter recorded a resounding win over 10-man Rochdale to further enhance their League Two play-off credentials. Steve Basham tapped into an empty net to put the home side in front. Scott Wiseman then hauled Ryan Harley down in the box and the Dale defender was given his marching orders before Basham tucked in the penalty. Craig McAllister added two more with a brilliant solo effort and a simple finish, while Clark Keltie's late penalty was no more than a consolation.

Exeter: Jones, Tully, Seaborne, Edwards, Moxey, Saunders (Sercombe 82), Gill, Panther, Harley, Basham (Stewart 62), Stansfield (McAllister 61).

Subs Not Used: Marriott, Murray.

Booked: Moxey.

Goals: Basham 16, 31 pen, McAllister 84, 87.

Rochdale: Russell, Wiseman, Ramsden, McArdle, Kennedy, William Buckley, Keltie, Toner, Rundle, Shaw, Le Fondre (McEvilly 67).

Subs Not Used: Spencer, Dagnall, Mark Jones, Holness.

Sent Off: Wiseman (31).

Booked: McArdle.

Goals: Keltie 90 pen.

Attendance 4,326 with 190 away fans

Referee David Phillips (West Sussex).



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