18th February 1989
Classy display sinks Burnley.
Exeter City 3
C.Harris, Benjamin, Neville
Match Report by Trina Lake
EXETER CITY combined skill with controlled aggression to produce one of their best team performances of the season at St James's Park on Saturday. They dispatched Fourth Division promotion rivals Burnley in thoroughly professional style breathtakingly simple football but also showed a willingness and ability to give as good as they got when the studs were flying. Nobody was found wanting when a highly motivated Burnley side flexed their muscles, particularly in a fiercely competitive opening 20 minutes. But the necessary physical commitment was never at the expense of attacking finesse and the reward for that was three cracking goals.
Carl Harris (sixth minute) and Ian Benjamin (65th) deservedly put their names on the scoresheet for the first time since joining the club and Steve Neville appropriately capped his 400th Football League appearance with the third six minutes from time. It was an afternoon's entertainment that roused the usually reticent City crowd. There
was an excellent atmosphere throughout the ground a home fans responded vociferously to the noisy support from Burnley's fanatical following. Ignited by that rare spark from the terraces, both teams combined to produce a match that was a credit to Division 4. "I thought it was a tremendous games and that's the best we've played for a long time over the full 90 minutes," enthused City manager Terry Cooper. He wouldn't/ couldn't single out any one player for particular praise but made a point of highlighting the contributions from Harris and Ian Benjamin. "I was pleased that they played so well because that should suit the knockers up. They should get behind them now," he said. The two relative newcomers to City's side teamed up to produce a fine opening goal. Christchurch referee John Carter played good advantage to allow City's promising at- tack to continue when Chris Vinnicombe was crunched as he slipped the ball through to Darran Rowbotham. The striker's superb close control enabled him to squeeze a pass into space on the left of the penalty area for the stretching Benjamin to cross and there was Harris to clip a first time shot inside the far post. Their confidence charged, City went on to dominate the first half. They looked better balanced than of late with Harris and new signing Brian McDermott t both showing good touches on the flanks and Benjamin and Steve Tupling supporting well. There wasn't a great deal of goalmouth incident but it was an intriguing contest all the same with that competitive edge adding to the interest. At times the aggression was a little too unbridled and there were bookings for Burnley's Steve Davies and Ian Britton and Neville, although a little harshly in the City man's case. Tupling and former City striker Brendon O'Connell were also cautioned in a second half that was equally hard fought. For the first 20 minutes af- ter the break Burnley went hell for leather after an equaliser and their sustained pres- sure brought the best out of goalkeeper Dave Walter in spectacular fashion from George Oghani and O'Connell. And the near immaculate pairing of Shaun Taylor and Lee Rogers also produced some timely tackles to prevent certain goals. There was danger from City too during this period though as their speedy breaks exposed Burnley's lack of pace in defence. Benjamin sent one deft header against the bar and Neville failed to beat keeper Chris Pearce in a one-on-one. Pearce may well feel he should have saved the Benjamin header from Neville's neatly chipped cross that made it 2-0 but the ball slipped through his fingers. That all important second goal allowed City to relax again and only some desperate defensive work denied them a third before another productive move down the right bore fruit in the 84th minute. O'Connell, who didn't enjoy the happiest of returns with little affective service to make his mark, gave the ball away and Chris Banks eventually burst clear to deliver a low cross for Neville to tuck away a simple 13th goal of the season with Burnley's back line in total disarray. The result City's eighth successive home league victory revenge for a 3-0 defeat at Turf Moor in October keeps them seventh in the table and still well on course for a place in the play-offs,
Walter, Banks, Tupling, Rogers, Taylor, McDermott, Rowbot- ham, Benjamin, Vinnicombe, Neville, C.Harris (Cooper 90). Sub (not used) K.Smith.
Pearce, Measham, McGrory (Farrell 75), Britton, Davies, Miller, White, OGhani, O'Connell, Comstive (Rowell 12), Deakin.