Match 30
11th January 1986
Stockport County (h)

Steve Harrower

Match Report by Trina Lake.

Exeter City:
Shaw, Harrower, Viney, McNichol, McCaffery, Marker, Ling, Jackson, Gale, Keough, Kellow. Sub King.

Stockport County: Salmon, Evans, Matthewson, Wroe, Thorpe, Williams, Hodkinson, Hendrie, Leonard, Diamond, Coyle. Sub Rutter.

Attendance: 2,161.

JOHN SHAW stood between Exeter City and certain defeat at home to Stockport County on Saturday. The vastly experienced Scot performed heroics in City's goal to protect the lead his side had earned through Steve Harrower's fifth goal of the season in the 41st minute.Shaw threw himself left, right, forward and backward with equal agility to deny a busy and very mobile Stockport side, who are on the fringe of the promotion race. There were a few heart-stopping moments in the second half when it seemed that City's defence could soak up no more pressure. But the super cool' Shaw dealt superbly with everything that got past the overworked back four. It was a brave performance from the whole City side. They hung on doggedly to record their fourth home win on the trot despite the squad being decimated by injury and illness. Striker Tony Kellow dragged himself off his sickbed to fill the gap alongside Darren Gale up front when Alan Crawford had to admit defeat with a toe injury and Ray Pratt was confined to bed with 'flu. The game Kellow did remarkably well to last the full 90 minutes after a fort- night's illness had drained him of much of his strength. It was that kind of whole- hearted commitment from the players that carried them through a difficult game in tricky conditions. Manager Colin Appleton, another victim of the sick- ness that has swept the club, missed the match but received just the tonic he needed in that hard-won result. Coach Fred Binney, in charge of the team in Appleton's absence, had to admit though: "We didn't really deserve it. We were slightly fortunate. I can't fault the lads for their effort and the way they battled but we absorbed far too much pressure for me to be happy. I don't want to sit through too many more games like that one." The problem lay in a tired-looking City midfield who struggled to cope throughout with Stockport's lively approach work. Their failure to shut down the service to Stockport's front runners although never for the want of trying put City's defence under considerable pressure. And there was little service for Kellow and Gale to work with. It all combined to give City a rather disjointed look. Not that either side looked particularly fluent in a scrappy start to the game, hampered by strong wind and heavy rain. GAs they all beavered away to make some impression Stockport moving the ball around more sharply but City keeping their defensive discipline Shaw remained above the hurly-burly. He handled everything cleanly, no mean feat in swirling wind and with the ball a little slippery. He had a slight shock in the 20th minute when Andy Hodkinson unleashed a fierce right foot shot from the edge of the penalty area but the ball flew just off target. City responded decisively from a free kick midway inside Stockport's half after Trevor Matthewson had joined his skipper Paul Hendrie in referee Brian Stevens' book, both for fouls. Stand-in skipper Jim McNichol floated in the cross, it was only partially cleared as far as Harrower and he jinked his way into space for a curling shot past goalkeeper Mick Salmon. His celebrations came to an abrupt halt when Mr Stevens disallowed the goal be- cause Gary Jackson had strayed offside. There was some debate about whether Jackson was interfering with play but City did not let it rattle them out of their stride too much. Jackson had Salmon beaten again soon afterwards but the ball just crept past the post and Gale was presented with a golden chance from a Matthewson howler but he hit the upright with a shot that deflected off the goalkeeper's legs. Harrower finally broke the deadlock four minutes from half time with a bravely taken goal and - there could be no arguments about this one. Martin Ling swung in a cross from the right, Andy Thorpe made a hash of heading it clear and Harrower nipped in to nod the ball home from about eight yards as Salmon came flying towards him.  That cool piece of finishing was just reward for City's little midfield action man but he didn't have too much time to soak up the glory. Stockport went straight back on the attack and Mark Leonard fired in a useful shot but Shaw was perfectly positioned once again. In the second half, with the wind at their backs, Stockport threw everything forward in search of an equaliser and City rarely broke out of their own half for most of the 45 minutes. The lurking Leonard was denied the goal his side were so desperately seeking as a platform for success when McNichol prevented him from turning in a Mark Wroe cross with a superb block in the 48th minute. But from then on Shaw took supreme command of the situation as his defence became increasingly ragged. He was at full stretch to stop shots from Barry Diamond, Tony Coyle and Leonard and did well to tip a Wroe header over the bar. Bill Williams became the third Stockport player to get booked when he upended Danny Keough and Kellow was also cautioned for dissent as frustration grew on both sides. Kellow could well have wrapped it all up for City 12 minutes from time. Ling and Jackson combined to set him up but his well hit shot was brilliantly smothered by Salmon. 



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