23 March 1984
EXETER CITY 3, SOUTHEND UNITED 3
Report By DEREK LEAN
This battle of two of the Third Division's strugglers played in torrential rain on a skid-pan surface turned out to be a cliff-hanging thriller. But there was no happy ending for Exeter, who so desperately needed to win to boost their bit to avoid relegation. Three times City took the lead and three times they lost it as the game burst into a climax of goal-scoring action. Both sides turned in terrific performances in the stamina-sapping conditions. But when the excitement was all over, Exeter were left regretting missing first-half chances that might well have sewn the match up. Instead. they were only one goal in the lead when the second-half started and still vulnerable. It was the setting for an amazing period, with the pendulum of advantage swinging one way and then the other. Exeter paid the penalty for those missed first-half chances early in the second half A curling cross from Southend's new £20,000 signing Alan Rogers led to Southend equalising Mark O'Connor tried to head clear but the ball shot up into the air and dropped to Brian Ferguson, who hooked it into the net. That was in the 48th minute, and nine minutes later Exeter bounced back into the lead. Martin Ling put a cross over from the right, Roy McDonough delicately laid it off for Steve Neville and he weaved his way past two men before stroking the ball into the net Still, though, Exeter could not hold their lead: Southend came back at them with a vengeance and there was a disaster for City when Len Bond failed to hold a Rogers corner in the 62nd minute and Steve Phillips was on the spot to pounce and score.
Hopes of ending that run of 11 league games without a win soared again in the 71st minute as for the third time Exeter went ahead. Southend only partly cleared the ball which was headed back by Simon Webster. und enabled Ray Pratt to escape. round the keeper and score his second of the match and his 16th of the season. But Southend just would not be beaten. In the 75th minute they fought back on terms again as a cross from Greg Shepherd took a deflection and went to substitute Ron Pountney on for the injured Micky Stead and he scored with a dramatic diving header. Exeter should have had a comfortable interval lead but those squandered chances meant they had to be content with just the one goal. Exeter got the start they wanted in the 11th minute. A superb curling cross from Ling was neatly flicked on by O'Connor and there was Pratt by the far post to stab the ball into the net. Exeter had a couple of first half let-offs but they really ruled the game in this first period. O'Connor played a sweet ball through the middle to send Pratt away and his shot was only whisker wide. Shortly before the interval, McDonough was in action to send Neville away, but he took The ball a shade too far and keeper John Keeley was able to save.
Bond, Marker, Viney, O'Connor, Webster, Atkinson, Neville, Ling, Pratt, Francis, McDonough.
Keeley, Stead, Moody, Pennyweather, Turner, Clark, Ferguson, Kellock, Shepherd, Phillips, Rogers
Pratt (2), Neville
Ferguson, Phillips, Poutney
EXETER Steve Neville
SOUTHEND Alan Rogers