4th October 1980
Rotherham United (a)
Cracks show in Exeter defence
ROTHERHAM 3, EXETER CITY 1
Although a controversial goal might well have set them on the slippery slope, in the end veter City really had only themselves to blame for sliding to their third defeat of the season. It took City only a minute to repair the damage caused by referee Derek Webb's decision to allow Phil Henson's disputed 43ed-minute goal. But they could not paper over the cracks which appeared in their defence in the second half.
On any other occasion, those cracks might have gone unnoticed. but against a side who have Second Divsion aspirations of their own they were brutally exploited. City's manager Brian Godfrey said afterwards that he never felt his side were in any real danger. But he must have realised that never looked at their best either. Rotherham has never been a happy hunting ground for City in recent years and there were enough early indications to suggest that their luck was not going to change significantly this time around. After only nine minutes, Jimmy Giles managed to head the ball against his own post as he tried to clear a corner from Mick Gooding. Fortunately for City, the ball rebounded to safety, but they did not look like being lucky when Main could only parry a tremendous shot from Gerry Forest into the danger area. Richard Finney picked up the loose ball, but with the goal at his mercy he somehow managed to screw his shot wide. City worked hard to manufacture chances of their own, but it was one of those days when the ball just would not run kindly for them. Ba they hardly deserved what appeared to be the unkindest stroke of all, just before half-time. Tony Towner's right wing cross appeared to be dropping into Main's hand when the City goalie was bundled to the ground by Ronnie Moore. Substitute Henson, who had replaced the injured Finney only four minutes earlier, pounced on the loose ball and gratefully fired it into an empty act. City had barely time to voice their angry protests about Mr.Webb's dubious decision to allow the goal. before they were back on terms. Join Delve's free-kick was deflected into the penalty box by Peter Hatch and there lurking at the far post was the unlikely figure of Gile, who crashed in a shot which goelleeper Graham Brown could only help into his own act. But Rotherham needed only seves minutes of the second half to restore their lead. There could be so argument about the legality of the goal this time although Godfrey found it just as upsetting.
He blamed Main for not coming to collect full-back John Breckins near-post cross and allowing John Seasman the sort of free header which any striker would relish. City tried hard to get back into the game but they seldom caused any real problems for the Rotherham defence. And with just nine minutes remaining, they paid the penalty for pushing men forward when Rotherham snatched a third goal. Henson and Towner combined well to set up a chance for Moore. who managed to blast the ball home at the second attempt aber his first effort had been brilliantly saved by Main.