13th September 1980
KEEPER OF BAD NEWS FOR CITY
Exeter City 0 Burnley 0
EXETER'S goal supply appears to have dried up. For this was the second game on the trot when the result should have been a formality by half time.
Outstanding midfield player John Delve, in particular, must wonder where Dame
Fortune is hiding these days, after a powerful second half shot which had 'goal' stamped all over. He had time, plenty of space, and his 74th minute shot flew like a bullet. But 'keeper Alan Stevenson made the shot look ordinary with the kind of flying save that earned him. a handful of England. under-23 caps a few years back. Stevenson was Burnley's hero in stopping Exeter's search for the vital goal. He didn't put a hand wrong and you could sense City's growing frustration with the way he organised defenders in front of him. and took crosses out of the air. He didn't look invincible, yet the occasions on which he was in trouble were those when City were desperately out of luck.
Tony Kellow deserved a goal in the 22nd minute from Roy Ireland's swift break and centre from the right. Kellow chested down the ball, swivelled towards goal but then looked to the skies in disbelief as the ball inched wide of an upright. Dave Puller was another who could hardly believe his first half misfortune following a brilliantly worked Ian Pearson Delve move. Pullar's shot was on target yet, incredibly, the ball hit left back David Holt, without Holt know- ing too much about it, and flew over the bar. Delve, Pearson and Frankie Prince were all effec tive as well as active as Exeter's midfield trio saw to it that they had by far the best of the game. All three could have. scored and Prince was especially unfortunate when he dived into the six-yard area and powered a header over the top from Delve's 62nd -minute cross. Perhaps a less experienced side might have wilted under the intense pressure, but in Stevenson. and central defender Martin Dobson, Burnley had two fine examples of how to defend in times of stress. Dobson almost totally blotted Steve Neville out of the game and in the end Neville was booked for dis- sent after a foul on the former England and Everton player. Burnley winger Phil Cavener was booked for dissent eight minutes. before the interval, but that was the only thing of note that he or any of his attack- ing colleagues achieved against City.
Referee D. A. Hedges (Oxford).