1st March 1989
Leyton Orient (h)
Exeter City 1
Leyton Orient 1
Match Report by Trina Lake
A TWICE taken penalty from Darran Rowbotham earned Exeter City a draw against Leyton Orient last night in a dramatic finale to their Fourth Division clash at St James's Park. City were trailing to a 74th minute strike from Kevin Campbell when all hell broke loose in the space of four action packed minutes with everything revolving around Rowbotham. First he had a goal disallowed, was then booked for arguing, missed a sitter and finally got his name on the scoresheet for the 18th time this season. The well deserved equaliser came when Steve Neville went flying as only he can under challenge from Orient defender Keith Day in the 79th minute. Birmingham referee Mike Reed awarded a penalty, Rowbotham took it and goalkeeper Paul Heald flung himself smartly to his right to save. In stepped Mr Reed again and ordered the kick to be retaken because he said Heald had been three yards off his line when Rowbotham struck the ball. City's top scorer kept his cool and again went to Heald's right, tucking his shot just in- side the post this time. That set up a rousing climax with City just failing to snatch victory as Ian Banjamin sent a reflex header just off target and Carl Harris produced a poor finish to another promising move. Their first dropped points at home in nine matches cost City a place in the Fourth Division play-off zone. They slipped to eighth as their four month winning streak at St James's Park came to an end. But if there was disappointment in the camp you couldn't detect it in manager Terry Cooper's reaction to the result. He was delighted with the City performance and reckoned: "For 45 minutes that's the best they've played since I came here. We were absolutely superb. We cut them to shreds down both flanks in the first half but we just couldn't get on the end of that final ball. We kept it going though and got our just deserts". And the City boss went further: "You can't go anywhere in the Fourth Division and see better football than we're playing at the moment", he said. Certainly there was some scintillating stuff produced in the first half with the pace of Harris and Neville causing Orient particular problems, from the intelligent often from prompting of Benjamin. City were rampant at times but couldn't find the finishing touch, despite forcing a host of corners. Orient had little to offer in reply although Dave Walter, confident and dominant throughout, made good saves from Paul Ward and Alan Comfort and gratefully watched a Steve Castle long range effort sail just over. The tempo dropped a good deal at the start of the second half as Orient tightened up in defence. The Londoners enjoyed their best spell in a 15 minute period leading up to Campbell's goal. The powerful 19- year-old striker, on loan from Arsenal and tipped by Orient manager Frank Clark as a First Division front runner of the future, had gone close twice before breaking the deadlock with an angled shot to beat Walter. That goal inspired City and straight from the restart they looked to have equalised when Neville's shot cannoned off Heald's chest and Rowbotham reacted swiftly to tuck away the rebound. But the goal was ruled out despite Rowbotham's justifiable protests that he had been behind Neville when the original shot was struck. City's determination was eventually rewarded however and even Clark had to admit that Orient didn't deserve all three points. "It's nice to see a team playing such attractive football as Exeter and doing well", was the Orient boss's generous comment afterwards.
Exeter City: Walter, Banks, Tupling (Cooper 86), Rogers, Taylor, McDermott, Rowbotham, Benjamin, Vinnicombe, Neville, C Harris Sub (not used K Smith).
Leyton Orient: Heald, Howard, Dickenson, Castle, Day, Sitton, Baker, Ward, Cooper (Harvey 62), Campbell, Comfort. Sub (not used) Harvey.