31 March 1984
Lincoln City (a)
City held by bottom club
LINCOLN CITY 1 EXETER CITY 1
With the Imps by Maurice Burton
The competition from the televised Grand National and point-to-point racing on the Carholme proved too much for Lincoln City at Sincil Bank on Saturday.
The attendance of a mere 1,498 showed clearly what the Lincoln soccer public thouoght of City's efforts in the past few weeks, par- ticularly with no new signings to boost their hopes. And, the match did little to inject any enthusiasm into those who did turn up, and one wonders just how far the gates can go down before the final whistle rings down the curtain on a bitterly disappointing season. The Red Imps, conscious only too well of their own poor form, should have won this match comfortably enough, for bottom club Exeter City seemed intent only on survival from the outset. They were helped by referee Ken Salmon, from London, whose tendency to stop the game whenever possible brought a string of free kicks to Lincoln, but also meant that what little football was on view was constantly disrupted.
Who knows? Perhaps Exeter would have- won if they too had been allowed to play. Certainly they created. three good chances which could have given them the points if they had taken more than the last one which came their way in the 87th minute. But Lincoln wasted all theirs. From the second minute, they allowed the frustrations of the day to get on top of them, and it is obviously a far cry from the glory days of last October, when over 12,000 packed Into Sincil Bank to watch them beat Spurs. That second minute was decisive. A fierce shot from Burke was blocked by keeper Bond; when the ball came back to him Burke smashed it into the net, only to find the goal had been disallowed. The reason? Thomas had strayed offside, and even though he was well off the pitch at the time, it was ruled that he was interfering with play. So, too, then, was Regis, when West Brom scored their first goal against Manchester United, clearly shown in news television on Saturday.
But, there were more chances, and some good goalkeeping too. Felgate did particularly well to hold an overhead kick from Pratt, a minute after the same player had glanced a header wide of an open goal. And in the second half, Pratt again looked a certain scorer until Felgate got across to push the ball round a post. Lincoln's goal came in the 59th minute, Burke heading in from 12 yards a brilliant run down the left by Thomas. With three minutes left, player-manager Gerry Francis showed the one touch of his old England class that was needed, and Steve Neville drove the ball through Felgate's legs to score a late equaliser.
It means that City have now registered only one win in their last six games.. sure relegation form if they had not made a good start to the season to give them the points cushion to survive their present bad patch.
Felgate, Strodder, Neale, Burke, Walker, Webb, Redfearn, Fashanu, Thomas, Hobson, Shipley. Sub. Jack.
EXETER: Bond, Kirkup, Viney, O'Connor, Webster, Atkinson, Neville, Ling, Pratt, Francis, McDonough. Sub Sims.
REFEREE: K. Salmon (Southgate).
59 mins BURKE (Lincoln)
87 mins NEVILLE (Exeter)