Match 46
13th April 1985
Rochdale (a)

City's day of misery


FOR two-nil, read a rout. If Exeter City travelled to Rochdale hoping to find easy pickings they completed a 500-mile journey much the wiser. A run of five matches without defeat proved insul ficient preparation for a battle with a Rochdale team making a late charge away from the re-election zone. The home team extended their own unbeaten run to five with goals either side of the interval from Barry Diamond and Ian McMahon. To complete an afternoon that was never much more than miserable for the visitors, Kevin Smith was taken to hospital with a suspected broken ankle six minutes into the second half.

The seed of defeat was sown after 15 minutes Referee Trelford Mills ignored Rochdale appeals for a penalty when Steve Harrower clearly handled but from the resulting corner, aimed towards the far post by David Grant, Diamond scrambled home a messy goal. There should have been many more before the interval as Rochdale maintained the upper hand over Exeter and over the heavy conditions. Winger David Thompson mined a particularly rich seam along the right touch- line, leading Phil King the merriest of dances. It was from his cross that King headed a Joe Cooke header over the bar and from another move along the right keeper Lee Smelt bent his back to keep out Diamond's header. Diamond found Smelt in similar form when Paul Heaton exploited space behind the Exeter defence to deliver a cross from the left flank. I took city the entire half to find their bearings in Rochdale territory and even then it was Phil Dwyer's head that brought an instinctive save from keeper Dave Redfern when the Rochdale defender diverted Martin Ling's cross dangerously close to his goal. The second period was less than a minute old when Rochdale put the game beyond reach. Midfielder McMahon increased the lead with a culminating 15-yard drive after Nick Marker deflected Thompson a cross into his path. Perversely it took the loss of that goal, followed by the appearance of Siman Burg har for Smith, to stir Exeter into their most profitable spell. Had Danny O'Shea converted either of the two chances that fell his way within a minute on the hour the match would have been there to claim. He missed both, however, losing his footing on the treacherous surface as the ball ran across goal and then finding Redfern's frame too substantial when Roch dale failed to dear the danger. Although Ling took the ball past Redfern only to shoot wide of a gaping goal. the rest of the match was staged in the Exeter half and much of it penalty area in their where defenders found it increasingly difficult to cope with Thompson's pace and directness. In one dazzling run be beat King no fewer than three times before sending a near-post ball that Diamond met with a firm header. Smelt again proved equal to the task. Short of removing the shirt on his back, there was little that King could do to curb Thompson and when the full-back did look back he joined O'Shea in Mr Mill's book a fitting symbol of Exeter's unhappy afternoon.

Attendance: 1,181.

Star Players
ROCHDALE: David Thompson.
EXETER: Martin Ling.



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