18 February 1984
City crash to 10 men following 'Beano' mistakes
AN UTTER SHAMBLES
Exeter City 3
Pratt (2), McEwan pen
Cunningham (3), Godfrey
Match Report by Trina Lake
EXETER CITY hit rock bottom with a resounding thud on Saturday, col- lapsing to their sixth successive defeat with all the grace of a pole-axed elephant. To their credit, elephants supposedly never forget. City on the other hand never seem to learn from even the most elementary mistakes. As a result they are firmly planted on the bottom of the Third Division and will sink deeper into the mire and straight into Division Four unless there is a dramatic change AND QUICKLY. There is no point in mincing words about Saturday's disaster. City were awful so bad in fact that sidelined player-manager Gerry Fran- cis could not bring himself to discuss the countless catastrophies with his team after the game, preferring to leave the post mortem until today. City's training ground would have been no place for the faint hearted today if Francis's seething anger has not cooled from Saturday. He laid into City's performance in a razor-sharp attack. "That is the worst performance since I took over here. Some of the defensive mistakes in the second half were straight out of the Beano. The people who pay their money deserve better than that," he raged. The only two players he singled out for moderate praise were Steve Neville, who caused Orient problems throughout, and goalkeeper Len Bond, who made a couple of fine saves to lessen Orient's margin of victory. But little could detract from the overall shambles in a game that was packed with incident.
City had started brightly enough, getting the ball in the net in the first 10 minutes through Ray Pratt but Midlands referee Maurice Robinson wiped his effort out for hand ball by Neville, who set up the chance. There was more drama in the 14th minute when Orient had defender Bill Roffey sent off. He was booked six minutes earlier and was ordered straight off for chopping down Neville from behind when the City striker was clean through. Roffey's departure should have heralded a City onslaught but they failed miserably for most of the match to take advantage of the extra man. There were a couple of encouraging moments Martin Ling shaved the post with a shot from Neville's lay off and Graeme Kirkup volleyed just over from 20 yards. Despite their general ineptitude City did manage to take the lead in the 32nd minute but they needed a hugh slice of luck to do it. Keith Viney got away with a foul on Kevin Godfrey and a hand ball before racing clear from inside his own half to cross for Ray Pratt, whose shot was blocked at the expense of a corner. The Welsh striker then rose to head Mark O'Connor's flag kick straight in and optimists in the sparse crowd the lowest league gate of the season - hoped against hope that City would build sensibly from there. But it wasn't to be and eight minutes later 10-man Orient were back on terms thanks to a disgraceful lapse by Simon Webster. Orient were awarded a free kick inside City's half but as Stan McEwan signalled the familiar offside trap rush out, Webster stayed put playing everybody on side and Orient skipper Tommy Cunningham was left to plant the ball firmly past Bond to equalise. Cunningham was one of Francis's earliest targets when he took over at St James's Park but there was a hitch over wages - a familiar story in the lower divisions lately and the deal fell through. And how City were made to regret it on Saturday. The big defender volleyed home a Barry Silkman corner, unmarked from 10 yards to put Orient ahead in the 51st.minute. Six minutes later he com- pleted his hat-trick and with City in complete disarray Godfrey made it 4-1 in the 66th minute with the marking again non-existent. Bond prevented Godfrey from grabbing a second goal with a great save in the 71st minute and a minute later City pulled the score back to 4-2. Cunningham, booked along with Webster, was harshly adjudged to have fouled Roy McDonough in the penalty area and up stepped Stan McEwan to fire the ball past former City 'keeper Richard Key for his 10th goal of the season. City replaced the hapless Webster with Nick Marker 15 minutes from time but despite a last gasp onslaught that brought a second goal for Pratt, ultimate defeat was no less than they deserved. The tragedy of the situation was, however, that once again City had to scrape a side together and anger at that led to an ugly outburst aimed at the directors after Orient's fourth goal.
- Fans hurled abuse at board members as they were forced to witness the 10th humiliating home defeat of the season.
- Elsewhere in the grandstand, police had to deal with an outbreak of fighting that led to about a dozen fans from both clubs bein ejected from the ground.
Bond, Kirkup, Viney, Webster, McEwan, Atkinson, O'Connor, Ling, Pratt, McDonough, Neville.
Sub Marker (for Webster).
Key, Cornwell, Osgood, Roffey, Cunningham Hales, Silkman, Brooks, Godfrey, Kitchen, McNeil.
Sub Sussex (on for Kitchen).