15th April 1989
Rotherham U (h)
Exeter City 0-0 Rotherham Utd
Report by Trina Lake
KEVIN MILLER came back down to earth today as he resumed his job as a painter and decorator in Falmouth. But the 20-year-old goalkeeper could be forgiven if his thoughts were elsewhere-back at St James's Park in fact, scene of his triumphant Football League debut on Saturday. The youngster, drafted in by Exeter City because of Dave Walter's suspension and Richard Smeath's injury, made a couple of particularly fine saves to mark the occasion with a clean sheet that prevented Rotherham from going back to the top of Division 4. "I'm relieved it's all over," he admitted after the first goal-less draw City have featured this season. "I was a little bit nervous the night before but once the time came and we ran out on the pitch I didn't feel too bad. I didn't have a lot to do and as the game went on I was getting more confident." Miller had an edgy opening 10 minutes when the pace of the game left him a little be- wildered but once he had stretched full length to his right to keep out a 12th minute shot from Shaun Goodwin, he never looked back. Manager Terry Cooper was well satisfied with Miller and his team-mates. "The lad didn't have much to do but what he did was very proficient. I thought they all had the right attitude today and were unlucky not to win. I didn't think we got the breaks but we've proved that we don't have to be frightened of anybody. The spirit and determination was there and they'll need to be like that at Torquay next week because we shall be intimidated for certain," he said. Cooper reckoned Saturday's game was a good advert for the Fourth Division and in terms of commitment and aggression, neither team could be faulted. But it wasn't memorable for very much else and perhaps that is only to be expected at this stage of the season when there is so much at stake. It was, however, encouraging to see City respond so positively to Cooper's no-holds-barred criticism of the previous week's poor performance at York. The defence looked particularly sharp with Lee Rogers outstanding in keeping a tight rein on Rotherham's 25-goal top scorer Bobby Williamson. Much of City's most inventive attacking inevitably involved Steve Neville whose swift grasp of the best option put him a cut above everybody else. But there were useful contributions too from Brian McDermott on the left wing and midfielder Ian Benjamin when he eventually found his range with shots from the edge of the opposition penalty area. City chose to play into a strong wind in the first half and made little headway with no finish to one or two promising moves, the best of which saw Richard young drag a 23rd minute shot across the goal and wide when McDermott had put him through. Miller saved well Goodwin and Des Hazel, Paul Haycock sent a header over the bar and Richard Dryden made one timely tackle to end a threatening move involving Mark Dempsey and Martin Scott as Roterham also struggled slightly to make an impression. The South Yorkshire side had penalty appeals rightly dismissed by referee Rodger Gifford in the 52nd minute when Tony Grealish went down under a well timed challenge from Rogers and the Rotherham midfield general then scuffed his shot two minutes later when he looked certain to break the deadlock from inside the area. City then began to exert increasing pressure with the wind behind them and Rotherham were restricted to few sights of the goal after Williamson had a 64th minute shot cleared off the line by Chris Banks. The frustration proved too much for manager Billy McEwan and he was ordered from the dug out five minutes from time for repeated touchline coaching. Benjamin, Shaun Taylor, McDermott and Young all wasted chances to win it for City and put them within three points of a play-off place again but they certainly mis- sed the penalty area ingenuity of suspended top scorer Darran Rowbotham. There was almost a sting in the tail for City as Taylor was booked for a last minute foul on Williamson and from the free kick Scott belted the ball over the wall and towards the top corner but Miller had stayed alert and came to the rescue, expertly tipping the shot over the bar. He'll be back in training with City on Friday, ready for Saturday's big match against Torquay at Plainmoor.
Exeter City: Miller, Banks, Dryden, Rogers, Taylor, McDermott, C. Harris (Smith 70), Benjamin, Young, Neville, Hiley. Sub (not used) Langley.
Rotherham United: O'Hanlon, Rus- sell, Scott, Grealish, Johnson, Barnsley, Dempsey (Buckley 64), Goodwin, Williamson, Haycock, Hazel. Sub (not used) Evans.