Match 29
28 December 1999.
Peterborough (h)

Teenager robs a point for City

Report by Nick Beer

ROBERT Speakman got Exeter City out of jail after they again flirted with failure against 10 men. The substitute striker's leveller two minutes from time salvaged a vital point for the Grecians. Until the teenager's mis-hit volley crept inside the post, St James's Park was witnessing a carbon copy of City's last home reverse against Hartlepool. Once again Exeter hauled themselves back on terms against depleted opposition only to suffer a momentary lapse of reason. Only on this occasion the cavalry turned up in the nick of time. Ironically, Speakman, 19, had found himself dropped to the bench following his church mouse performance against Cheltenham on Boxing Day. Into the side came target-man Steve Flack after serving a one-match suspension, and with Rob Dewhurst ruled out with a head wound, midfielder Pete Smith was handed his first start for two months. Gary Alexander fired home on seven minutes only to be flagged narrowly offside. But almost instantly the City strike starlet's intervention set Posh on their way to their first goal. The ball span free from Alexander's whole-hearted challenge into the path of visiting winger David Farrell. The City defence drew up a seat and watched as former Wimbledon striker Andy Clarke darted in to score at the near post. Three minutes later Alexander flashed the ball invitingly into the six-yard box only for Nyamah to forget to stick out his boot. Former Plymouth frontman Howard Forinton and Richie Hanlon both fluffed gilt-edged chances for Posh before Castle booked his early bath with a crunching elbow into the side of Jason Rees's face. With Smith a revelation down the right, City bossed the remainder of a scrappy half. Nyamah failed to get enough head onto one of the teenager's mouth-watering centres, and a delicate Smith chip found Alexander who again converted coolly only for the flag to curtail his celebrations. Flack, sniffing for his first league goal of the season sent his 30-yarder barely a foot over the bar.
But City were never allowed to relax, Stuart Naylor saving with his legs from Clarke and Hanlon flashing his free header just wide. And after the break the nor- mally dependable Jon Gittens almost handed Posh their second, dispossessed by Forinton to leave to Peterborough striker a clear run on goal.
Gittens was a picture of relief as the ball fizzed the wrong side of Naylor's left upright. Speakman -on for the ineffective Nyamah -pulled a lightning save out of Tyler with a flying header from Jon Richardson's cross. And a period of City pressure finally told when the impressive Flack nodded the ball into the path of Alexander. The on-loan Hammer instantly readjusted his body to fire home via the far post. With both defences at sixes and sevens, it was only a matter of time before the scorers were troubled again. And when substutute Jae Martin lead a Posh breakaway, Clarke was allowed to sprint unchaperoned down the centre of the pitch, controlling effortlessly before dinking the ball over Naylor. But with time running out, Breslan chipped the ball in for Speakman to volley first-time past a motionless Tyler. There was still time for both sides to spurn chances to steal all three points. First Flack headed wide and then Naylor dived full-length to push away Hanlon's shot from the edge of the area. But in the final anaylsis a high-scoring draw was as much as either side deserved.


Paul F



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