5 March 1984
Port Vale (a)
Vale squander another chance!
Port Vale 2-2 Exeter.
Match Report by ROY PATEMAN.
PORT VALE last night squandered yet another great chance of hauling themselves out of the bottom four for the first time this year when held to a draw by visiting Exeter. Twice ahead, a missed countless chances of completely crushing the bottom side and yet another penalty went begging as Tommy Gore fluffed his spot kick. No wonder Vale boss John Rudge said he was "very disappointed" with the result. "We should have won," he declared. "We played well, especially in the first half when we should have been well out of their reach. Vald played some great football in that first half but we did not convert the chances. Missed penalties are costing us quite a few points and I don't know whether Exeter had us watched on Saturday when Tommy Gore scored." Exeter boss Gerry Francis confirmed that a spy had been at Mald Park when Gore scored from the spot against Brentford at the weekend. He explained: "Our keeper did very well and was very brave. Before the game Len Bond said he was going to go the other way. But when the penalty was awarded I told him how Gore had scored on Saturday and that he should take the chance and go the same way." Gore's action replay of Saturday's kick produced a superb 22nd minute save as Bond sprang low to his left. Steve Fox followed up the rebound but again Bond was brilliantly down to knock the close range shot away. On the quarter hour Bond was flattened by the inrushing Russel Bromage who connected with a loose back pass from Nick Marker and managed to set up a frenzied attack. Bromage squeezed the ball to Kevin Young who found Martin Henderson but the big striker missed his kick and the ball spun to O'Keefe who blasted wide. Bond collected a kick in the face which left him with a badly lacerated chin. The keeper refused to be beaten even when Vale were awarded the penalty in the 22nd minute. But 10 minutes later he was stranded as Henderson brilliantly chested down Bromage's left wing cross and his shot on the turn had the ball in the roof of the net before the keeper could move. Five minutes later Exeter were amazingly level when Francis produced a touch of class that led him to the England captaincy. His brilliant free-kick left Ray Pratt with the simple task of stooping to flick a header wide of Barry Siddall. John Ridley, earlier booked for a foul on Neville in his comeback match after suspension, had the ball in the Exeter net almost on the stroke of half- time but was ruled offside. Ten minutes after the break Wald again roared in front with Bromage, Hunter, O'Keefe and Fox all involved in a rapid bout of inter-passing which gave Young the chance of driving his shot under the body of the advancing Bond. Then five minutes from time the inevitable happened as Exeter forced a corner on the left and snatched a dramatic equaliser. O'Connor floated in the flag kick, Simon Webster back headed the ball which fell to the dangerous Neville who was almost on the goal-line as he stabbed it into an empty net. Vale surged back upfield to try and grab the points which should have been clinched a lot earlier to edge them out of the bottom four with a Phil Sproson last-gasp winner, but with Bond for once well beaten, the defender's fierce drive was hooked clear
Siddall; Sproson, Bromage, Hunter, Ridley, Cegielski, Gore, Young, Henderson (Earle), O'Keefe, Fox.
Bond; Marker, Viney, O'Connor, Webster, Atkinson, Neville, Rogers, Pratt, Francls, Harrower (Sims).