31st December 1988
York C (h)
EXETER CITY 2
Rowbotham (pen), Neville
Report by Trina Lake
EXETER CITY saw out 1988 in fine style by beating York City to make it four straight league wins in December and will be looking to see in the New Year in similar fashion at Stockport County tonight.
The champagne corks were popping at St James's Park on Saturday as City climbed to sixth in the Fourth Division. It had been no New Year's Eve party for them on the pitch though as York belied their lowly league position to give Terry Cooper's men a rough ride before Steve Neville added to Darran Rowbotham's 22nd minute penalty nine minutes from time to relieve the pressure. Afterwards Cooper admitted: 'We didn't play the flow- ing football we have in previous weeks but I was pleased with the way we battled, ran and closed things down. The way the lads battled and fought was tremendous." But while the celebrations went on around him, the manager sounded a cautionary note. "We've had a good month and put ourselves in a good position but there's a long way to go yet. Once we get to 50 points I'll relax a little bit," he said. Cooper reckons 50 points will be enough to secure City's Fourth Division survival and they will be within 14 points of the target with a win at Stockport. But the Cheshire club, 15th in the table after their 1-1 draw at Carlisle on Saturday, will not be easy opponents. They have lost only once at Edgeley Park in 10 league games this season and have con- ceded just seven goals there. City's only worry concerns Neville who needed treatment on Saturday for a leg injury. He took several whacks in the back from an uncompromising York defence but responded with one of the best goals seen at St James's Park for some time. Rowbotham set it up with neatly clipped through ball for his strike partner and Neville did the rest. He beat one defender, rounded goalkeeper Chris Marples, and as York players closed in around him, calmly placed the ball past full back Darren Bradshaw on the goal-line for his ninth goal of the season. "That was a fabulous goal worth the admission price alone," enthused Cooper. Up until then York had looked the more likely to get the game's second goal, but for all their territorial domination and greater possession they created few clear cut openings as City defended resolutely in and around their own penalty area. Marples was generally the busier of the two goalkeepers right from the sixth minute when he had to fling himself full stretch to his right to keep out a 20 yard shot from Tommy Langley. His opposite number Dave Walter, voted man of the match by City's vice pre- sidents, had his first serious save to make in the 19th minute and an unorthodox one it was too. He raced out of his area to head the ball away from Gary Himsworth but it fell straight to Tony Canham whose 35 yard attempt to score in an empty net finished way off target. City were in front three minutes later when Bradshaw brought down flying full back Chris Vinnicombe for the se- cond time. He claimed the foul was outside the penalty area, referee Howard King from Merthyr Tydfil decided otherwise and Rowbotham stepped up to beat Marples with a well placed shot from the spot to take his goal tally to 12. York, struggling at fourth from bottom of the table, might have been expected to crumble after that but they responded bravely and with refreshing confidence. City's Richard Cooper was in outstanding form until he was booked in the 35th minute for a late tackle on Shaun Reid. That curbed his natural over enthusiasm and with Paul Roberts also slightly subdued, York began to take increasing control. Their finishing didn't match their all round effort however with the giant Ian Hellivell and Kevin Dixon missing their best chances and Walter sav- ing well at the feet of Himsworth when Reid put him through. City replaced Scott Hiley. with Carl Harris in the 70th minute and he should really have marked his debut with a goal four minutes later. Cooper picked him out unmarked at the far post but he wanted one touch too many and Marples appeared from nowhere to save the Welshman's half hit shot. That stop kept York in with a chance but they were caught pushing forward for an equaliser by the old Rowbotham Neville one-two. At 2-0 up City were just about safe although Walter did have to produce an excel- lent fingertip save to deny Steve Spooner.
Exeter City: Walter, Banks, Ro- berts, Rogers, Taylor, Cooper, Rowbotham, Hiley (C. Harris 70), Vinnicombe, Neville, Langley. Sub (not used) J. Harris.
York City: Marples, Bradshaw, Johnson, Reid, Greenough, Smith, Himsworth, Spooner, Helliwell, Dixon, Canham. Subs (not used) Dunn, Hay.