22 February 1984
Football League Trophy (AM Cup)
Bristol City (h)
Bristol City sunk by rocket Ray
Exeter City 3, Bristol City 1
Report By Mike Allen
RAY Pratt grabbed a brace to sink Bristol City's hopes of a much needed boost last night. Playing in the Associate Members Cup, away from the pressures of their promotion challenge, the Bristol club were unable to improve on their recent poor performances and slumped to Third Division strugglers Exeter. And that was after a bright start in which Rob Newman, on this occasion playing as a fullback in place of Gary Williams who was relegated to substitute, had a powerful shot well saved by Len Bond. But Mike Hooper, playing his first senior game, saved well for City when Steve Neville struck a powerful effort. He was left helpless though in the 26th minute when Neville crossed, Roy McDonough laid the ball back and Pratt rocketed home a powerful shot. The young goalkeeper, who was making his debut for the rested John Shaw, saved bravely at the feet of Keith Viney soon afterwards. City were frustrated four minutes before the interval when Paul Williams, also on a rare first team outing, missed a golden opportunity to equalise. A corner ball fell to him, but he seemed surprised to see it at his feet and, when he did shoot, saw a defender block the effort close to the line. Any hope the Ashton Gate club might still have been nursing of beating Exeter vanished in the 53rd minute. Hugh Atkinson played a long ball out of defence, and Neville ran on to it, beat Hooper yards outside his area, and put the ball into an empty net from 30 yards. Pratt added his second shortly after the hour when he dived in to head home Mark O'Connor's powerful left-wing cross that Hooper was unable to reach. Tom Ritchie salvaged some pride nine minutes from time with a penalty that beat his former Ashton Gate colleague Len Bond after Simon Webster had been penalised for hand ball.
The result offers some relief from the league battle facing Gerry Francis's men, but the Bristol club's dive in form showed no sign of improving. The decision of manager Terry Cooper to play his first full game of the season in preparation for the visit of Aldershot on Saturday had little effect as lightweight City got bogged down in the heavy ground.