Match 06
28 August 1999.
Rochdale (a)

Rochdale 0 Exeter City 2

Report by Les BARLOW

EXETER City had a nasty surprise for Third Division leaders Rochdale as they went away from Spotland sitting proudly on top of the table themselves. The men from Devon wrecked Rochdale's 100 per cent record, soiled their clear league sheet and leaped to the top. There was no fluke about it - at least in the way they got three points but they did have a stroke of luck with the Robert Speakman goal that clinched victory after 77 minutes. The youngster charged down a clearance by goalkeeper Neil Edwards and The ball cannoned off him and back into the Rochdale net. This, added to Shaun Gale's strike three minutes earlier knocked the stuffing out of Rochdale who never looked like pulling anything back. Early on Exeter overcame their injury trou- bles and gave Rochdale a pretty tough first half in which they nearly took an early lead when a Barry McConnell shot crashed off the home crossbar and bounced down onto the line before being kicked clear. There were few chances for either side although Gary Alexander gave Rochdale a fright with a shot on the run and McConnell went close from close in. Rochdale found their scoring habits thwarted by a strong City defence in which Jon Gittens and Graham Power were outstanding. It was not until early in the second half that the home side looked dangerous with substitute Andy Morris netting only to be ruled offside. That was virtually the last of Rochdale as a threat chances although Stuart Naylor did well to save from Jason Peake as did substitute 'keeper Jason Matthews after replacing cartilage victim Naylor on 61 minutes. Before Exeter got their noses in front Rochdale had two more chances but Gary Jones and fullback Dean Stokes saw a long range shot cleared. Once City had established the lead they fell back on defence and were given few problems by the homestrikers who were not
helped when Clive Platt went off on the stroke of half time with concussion. Rochdale's expected late rally after falling behind was well contained. City broke away several times late on and could even have added to their lead. Gary Alexander, on loan fron West Ham, was always a threat out on the left and McConnell was very unfortunate not to put City on the winning path with one or two excellent first half efforts. Rochdale's attack was generally made to look toothless and this reflects great credit on an Exeter side who got their just rewards for their efforts after such a long trip.

Exeter City
Naylor. Richardson Power Gittens Dewhurst. Rees Holloway Gale. Breslan. McConnell Alexander.
Substitutes: Matthews (for Naylor, 61), Speakman (for Mc Connell), Flack (for Alexander Not used. Blake, Worrall

Edwards. Evans. Stokes, Hill, Bayliss, Ford (Carden 78), Jones, Peake, Atkinson, Lancashire, Platt (Morris 45). Not used: Priestly, Holt, Monnington

Exeter City - Gale 74, Speakman 77.

Rochdale - Hill 38,
Exeter Power 55.

Referee: G Laws (Whitley Bay)

Attendance: 3,113

Star Man:
Jon Gittens - Always defended calmly

Match Reaction

EXETER City powered to the top of the Division Three table with a superb 2-0 away victory against previous leaders Rochdale. Two goals in the last 15 minutes by Shaun Gale and Robert Speakman gave City the vital three points. Delighted City manager Peter Fox said: 'I think we thoroughly deserved our win. 'We settled down to play good purposeful football and we overcame our injury problems. 'We are top of the league now and not undeservedly. 'A lot of clubs in this position would have problems about being at the top but we won't and we hope to stay where we are now - at the top. Being top is something we shall relish.'

Tough game
Fox added: 'Stuart Naylor went off in the sec- ond half with cartilage trouble, but I hope that it won't be serious. 'Jason Matthews did well when he took over between the sticks.' Rochdale manager Steve Parkin conceded: 'I think Exeter deserved to win. 'We knew it was going to be a tough game and that's how it turned out. "They never let us get going except in fits and starts. 'Unhappily for us we lost Clive Platt with concussion at half-time and that had its effect.'



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