2nd January 1989
Stockport County (a)
STOCKPORT COUNTY 4, EXETER 0
NEW boy Tony Hancock finished off a convincing County demolition job with a stunning goal... and one with a Stockport hallmark. Hancock - who still drives trucks for his father's haulage business in Reddish-dived in to glance a spectacular header home with quarter of an hour to go. He went wild with delight and the crowd were thrilled to see a local lad - who played for Stockport Georgians a month ago-doing so well. That incident will stick in the minds of the 2,936 who turned out for this game, but the County performance was a vindication of Asa Hartford's style of football. His side could even afford to miss a penalty as they rattled up County's biggest win in almost a year.
The Edgeley Park fun started in the seventh minute when Dave Logan skied an optimistic cross. Goalkeeper David Walters dropped it under severe pressure and with the Exeter players appealing for a foul Tony Caldwell pushed the ball home for his second goal in two games. In the 14th minute fortune- and a referee, for once-smiled on County. They tried a rehearsed free kick which slammed into a ruck of Exeter players and referee George Tyson pointed to the spot. Perhaps it was only fair on the visitors that Bill Williams scooped his shot wide. But County shrugged that off and did go two up on the half-hour. Steve Bullock lifted a ball through the middle and Bob Colville found half a yard on his marker. Cool as you like, be tapped the ball over the defender's head and volleyed sweetly home. Exeter, clearly suffering from the same kind of far-from-home boliday blues which County have experi- enced recently, struggled to get back into this one, but had only a 30-yard thunderbolt from Lee Cooper to show for their first half efforts. But the Devon men looked a more determined outfit after the break, Darren Rowbotham having a goal disallowed and the midfield hustling County out of their confident stride.
County gradually re-asserted their grip and Nigel Hart's bouncing header from John Cooke's cross was nodded off the line by Lee Cooper. One of the night's biggest cheers was for Hancock, a Rodger Wylde lookalike, who replaced Tony Caldwell with half an hour to go. Two worthy long-range efforts from Exeter substitute Scott Hiley and Richard Cooper, and a header from Steve Neville, proved to be Exeter's last fling as County staged a grand finale. On 72 minutes, Andy Thorpe - doing well as an attacking right back on his return to the side thumped over a cross from the by-line. Shaun Taylor handled and John Cooke made it plain he wanted to take the spot-kick this time. He belted his shot in off the underside of the crossbar. Two minutes later, lively Hancock's dream came true. Bob Colville did the hard work down the right and when he slammed a cross over Hancock hurtled in at the near post to score. It is difficult to pick individuals out of a solid team performance, but Bill Williams oosed class in a defence which occasionally suffered from the jitters, Steve Bullock beavered away in midfield, and three of County's five front-line strikers grabbed goals. But the night belonged to young Hancock.