Match 22
15th December 1984
Peterborough (home)

THE PATIENCE of Exeter City's forbearing fans is finally wearing thin.
Report by Trina Lake

Exeter City 0-1 Peterborough 

They have tolerantly endured a string of bad performances in the last three months, but after watching City slump to their fourth successive defeat on Saturday, thanks to a 19th minute goal from Ken Beech, something snapped.

There were angry demonstrations in the grandstand and on the pitch directed specifically at chairman Clifford Hill, who has attempted to keep a low pro- file in the latest session of turmoil at St James's Park. Cries of "Clifford out,

Clifford out, Clifford out" were followed swiftly by a chorus of "There's only one Dan McCauley."

Again a failure by the City board of directors to give any valid reason for rejecting Mr McCauley's latest takeover bid has played straight into the Bampton millionaire's hands.

With no real explanation of the board's side of the power struggle forthcoming, the long-suffering fans see the slamming of the door in Mr McCauley's face as another chance to inject new life into the club gone begging.

Judging by Saturday's reaction, many supporters seem to feel the time for a change at the top is long overdue.

But the lengthy honeymoon for manager Jim Iley is coming to an end too. Few managers have worked harder than he has, but the fans are not seeing too much evidence of it on the pitch. He has been forced to devote so much time to easing the club's financial plight that the playing side has invevitably suffered.

His team-building plans are a long way from completion - halted by the age old problem of a lack of money - but the paying public are surely entitled to expect better from what City have got.

"Once again my sympathy has to be with the suppor- ters. They deserve better. We still need new players but I'm not going to be panicked into doing things. It is not as desperate as the situation might appear," said Iley.

It is desperate enough, however, to have dumped City to fourth from bottom in the Fourth Division with the difficult and hectic holiday programme looming.

City's lowest crowd of the season 2,012-watched the latest disappointing per- formance on a Saturday traditional for its poor pre-Christmas attendances.

Once again City's failure to capitalise on the chances they created was at the heart of their problem. Their attack has failed to find the net in the last four games and as if that was not bad enough, defensive difficul- ties look on the cards after a bad injury for Keith Viney.

The consistent full-back was carried off in the closing stages of Saturday's game with a badly twisted knee. He went off to hospital for a precautionary X-ray and will have a real battle on his hands to get fit for Friday night's game at Tranmere.

City are as short on defen- sive cover as they are in finishing power and can ill- afford to lose a player of Viney's ability and deter- mination for too long.

He and his fellow defenders did not have a very busy time on Saturday. Peterborough hardly got into City's penalty area more than half a dozen times, but the cru- cial difference was that they made one of their rare chances count.

City enjoyed a good spell of possession early on with Martin Ling again making encouraging positive runs down the right wing. He is relishing the new freedom of a more forward role and Trevor Morgan's intelligent distribution gives him plenty of opportunities to display his undoubted talents.

It all looked quite promising until Gary Worrall's delightful through ball found Beech clear of Steve Harrower and the impress- ive midfielder drove the ball firmly past goalkeeper Jeff Wood's left hand. Within a minute Beech was performing heroics at the other end, clearing off his own goal-line from a Jim McNichol header.

City's best chance of the first half fell to Morgan in the 24th minute. Ling's fine cross was headed on target by Danny O'Shea and goal- keeper John Turner could only parry the ball, but as it dropped to Morgan he somehow put it wide from five yards. He tried to make too sure instead of blasting the ball and hung his head in shame at the abysmal result of his effort.

Apart from a couple of speculative shots, Peterborough had little to offer in reply as City kept them under pressure.

Ling gave them a torrid time, setting up fruitless chances for the out of touch Kevin Smith- a shot on the turn that was way off the mark and Morgan -a header that was well held on the ground by Turner.

Ray Pratt came more into the game after an anonymous first half, but the golden goal touch that served him so well early in the season seems to have deserted him.

In the 50th minute he was presented with great a chance from another deep cross from Ling, but hurried a shot well wide. He made a better connection four minutes later when the ball fell to him in a similar posi- tion, but his low drive cannoned clear off Turner's legs.

Worral gave City a fright in the 59th minute when he curled in a superb shot from 15 yards that beat everybody but went inches over the bar. The most clear-cut chance of the second half went to Pratt in the 63rd minute. He met Morgan's cross well with a far post header, but with Turner nowhere the ball hit the upright. City were just about played out of ideas after that. Iley tried to shake things up a little near the end by taking off Smith, putting Graeme Kirkup on at right back, and moving Frank Howarth into midfield.

With only eight minutes left, however, there was no time for the change to have any effect and another three points had gone down the drain.

City have how gone 11 matches without a win, a grim statistic that does not give their supporters too much Christmas cheer.

Exeter City: Wood, Howarth, Viney, O'Shea, Marker, McNichol, Ling, K. Smith, Morgan, Pratt, Harrower. Sub: Kirkup (on for Smith).

Peterborough: Turner, Chard, Pike, Beech, Wile, Slack, Shepherd, King, Waddle, Quow, Worrall. Sub: Kelly.

Attendance: 2,012.



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