Match 55
3rd May 1986
Crewe Alexandra (h)

Gary Jackson

Gary Blissett (pen), Chris Cutler

Match Report by Trina Lake. 

EXETER CITY have to rely on Halifax or Roch- dale losing their remain- ing Fourth Division fixtures to save them from applying for re-election.

City needed a point from Saturday's last game against Crewe to be safe and looked to be well on the way when Gary Jackson's second goal for the season put them in front after 32 minutes. But Gary Blissett struck back from the penalty spot in the 43rd minute after Phil King had handled and Chris Cutler scored a sweet 73rd minute goal. Their fate could be decided by 5.40 pm today. While City were playing Torquay in the Devon Pro- fessional Bowl, their fellow candidates for the Canon League's fourth from bottom spot were in crucial Fourth Division action. Halifax, at home to promoted Mansfield, needed only to ensure they didn't lose by more than three goals to remain above City. Rochdale started today with two games in hand. Level on points and goal dif- ference with City, they needed a draw from this afternoon's visit of Orient strip or Wednesday's trip Peterborough to to save themselves and doom City. A haul of just one point from their final five games left City staring only their second application for re-election to Division 4 in the face. The only time they have faced that indignity was in 1960-61.

In a lively game at St James's Park on Saturday, City did everything they could to save themselves.. except score goals and that just about sums up this dis- appointing season. They worked hard and created plenty of chances but simply couldn't stick the ball in the back of the net. Injuries forced Colin Appleton to field a side heavily laden with defenders but there was plenty of enterprising attacking with Steve Harrower, Martin Ling, and Tony Kellow all causing problems for the Crewe defence. Kellow, using every trick he knew to inspire success, had a penalty appeal turned down and shot against the crossbar, and Ling went close twice before Jackson finally broke the deadlock. It was a superbly worked goal. Ling stepped over Harower's intelligent cross and there was the industrious Jackson to hit a crisp shot into the corner of the net. If anybody deserved to score on Saturday it was Jackson. Despite the effects of glandular fever, he gave a tireless performance in midfield. His passing was precise and he repeatedly got into scoring positions. His goal signalled concerted City pressure but Crewe survived and confirmed their threat on the break with the move that set up

Blissett's penalty equaliser.

Two Aidan McCaffery mi- stakes almosted presented Crewe with further goals, seconds either side of half time. He mis-controlled a cross and forced a superb save out of his own 'keeper John Shaw and let Dave Platt in for a squandered chance with a suicidal back pass. City responded well. Nick Marker sent a header just wide, young goalkeeper Rob Powner made confident saves to thwart King and Jackson, and Kellow ghosted in to head against the crossbar. Crewe's replay was deadly by contrast. Dave Waller made a powerful run down the right, crossed low from the by-line and Cutler turned the ball first time past the helpless Shaw. It's a sucker punch City had fallen for several times this season but they did their utmost to make amends. Ling wasted a great 75th minute chance by rushing his shot, the persistent Kellow sent an effort just off target, and Jackson had one shot deflected for a corner and another superbly saved by Powner. Appleton praised his players for their work-rate and commitment, admitted disappointment, but vowed: "There's now way I'll back out of the situation now. I'm no quitter."

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

Crewe: Powner, Pullar, Pem- berton, Thomas, Davis, Watkiss, Platt, Cutler, Waller, Booth, Blissett. Sub: Farrell (on for Watkiss 77).

Attendance: 1,777.





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