6th November 1991
Bradford C (h)
No surrender from a determined City
Exeter City 1-0 Bradford City.
Fighting display shames the stay away TV fans.
Ed Hogg reports from St James's Park
THE lowest St James's Park crowd of the season witnessed Exeter City prove they have the character required to press for a Third Division promotion place. It is early days, but there was clear evidence in the 1-0 win over fellow hopefuls Bradford last night that City can overcome setbacks. After disappointing defeats at Wigan and Leyton Orient in their last two outings, thwarted for long periods by Bradford's sweeper system and frustrated by Steve Moran's wood- work-rattling header, City could have. surrendered. But inspired by thirtysomethings Steve Williams and Vince Hilaire, they found the desire for three points. Shame on the 1,000 or so who opted to watch televised European soccer and reduced the gate to a mere 2,625. Coping reasonably well with every- thing City offered in attack, Bradford looked to have the share of the points they were after until centre back Steve Gardner's bizarre 71st minute own goal. The outstanding Scott Hiley delivered yet another of his right wing centres and Gardner threw himself full-length to nod the ball in off an upright. Bradford, with one of the best away records in the Third Division, had come to Devon ready to defend and try to catch City on the break. That they did although City enjoyed far greater possession and territorial advantage. But with veteran former Welsh international Robbie James sweeping tidily, there were few openings. The Bantams had the first, after just two minutes, when Brian Tinnion, with 10 goals from midfield to his credit already this season, collected 20 yards out, but his shot hardly troubled a well-placed Kevin Miller. Steve Moran had nearly sneaked in when Steve Gardner made a hash of a clearance before Bradford next invaded Exeter territory 14 minutes later. On that occasion City skipper Tom Kelly was perhaps fortunate to persuade referee Keith Cooper that he did not trip the visitors' most dangerous man, Wesley Reid, inside the Exeter penalty area. Gary Chapman elected to pass the ball back for Hilaire, when he might have shot then Kelly headed over after he had escaped the attentions of left back Alan Dowson. Peter Whiston twice made vital saving tackles as Bradford demonstrated their ability to turn defence into at- tack but City underlined their first- half superiority when Moran volleyed over from Kelly's intelligent header. And Hiley produced the best effort of the first 45 minutes on the stroke of half-time with a rasping 20-yarder that hurried Bradford goalkeeper Paul Tomlinson. It was a measure of the lack of real chances that left back Andy Cook's first penetrating run produced the opening corner after 50 minutes. Hiley made impressive inroads on the other flank and almost slipped Moran in before Gardner got in to cover. But then as Bradford hurried Scott Daniels into a back pass they briefly looked dangerous. Miller managed to collect before Phil Babb nipped in but the City goalkeeper's mishit punt struck Whiston squarely bet- ween the shoulder blades and fell into Reid's path. Miller raced out of his area and ran into the Bradford winger- to earn himself a caution. Gardner rehearsed for his later mishap with a hoofed clearance that whistled just past the Bradford goal on the hour and Whiston's 60th minute angled header was straight at Tomlinson. City looked to have been denied by the woodwork for the second time in five days when Moran headed a brilliant Williams free-kick against the crossbar, but after Gardner had found the net with a virtually identical effort, City could have consolidated their lead. Substitute John Hodge on for Chapman whistled a 25-yarder just wide and then let a Hilaire cross run to the unsuspecting Kelly when he might have had a shot himself.
Exeter: Miller, Hiley, Daniels, Whiston, Cook, Hilaire, Williams, Wimbleton, Kelly, Moran, Chapman (Hodge 65). Sub (not used): Brown.
Bradford: Tomlinson, Morgan, James, Ri- chards, Gardner, Dowson (Stuart 79), Dux- bury Tinnion, Reid, Babb, Torpey. Sub (not used): McCarthy.