26th December 1991
Super Hiley hits Shrews
OUTSTANDING Exeter City defender Scott Hiley's first goal of the season ended a string of four consecutive stalemates at St James's Park and enabled Alan Ball's side to relaunch their promotion campaign with a 1-0 victory over Shrewsbury. Stand-in skipper Hiley cut in from the left flank, jinked around Mark Taylor and Mark Blake to drill an unstoppable 74th minute left foot winner past Shrewsbury goalkeeper Steve Perks. Hiley's 25-yarder ended the barren spell that had seen City fail to notch a Third Division victory since beating Bradford 1-0 on November 6 and caused them to slide from a lofty fifth place to 13th in the table. But for the bulk of the match it looked like Exeter's recent inability to penetrate defences would prevent them avenging the nightmare 6-1 humiliation at Gay Meadow in August. Perks had twice saved well from the lively Gary Marshall and Steve Moran should have done better with a 44th minute effort that he spooned well over and a second-half glancing header that flew fractionally wide. Apart from a couple of minor scares, the worst of which when left back Andy Cook gave the ball away to Carl Griffiths the Shrews scarcely troubled Exeter 'keeper Kevin Miller. And with assistant-manager Steve Williams back in harness in the home side's engine room, City comfortably won the midfield battle. But despite Williams' insistent promptings and plenty of running, particularly from the rejuvenated Marshall, John Bond's five-man rearguard creaked infrequently. Tom Kelly missed out again having aggravated his knee ligament injury in training on Christmas Eve. And the 3,857 St James's Park crowd were denied a better inspection of on-loan Millwall striker John Humphrey when he was stretchered off after just 38 minutes with a knee problem following a collision with Perks. Exeter's margin of victory might have been greater if Marshall had elected to square for Moran rather than shooting himself and Tony Henry hacked off the line.
Miller, Hiley, Daniels, Whiston, Cook, Williams, Wimbleton, Brown, Marshall, Moran, Humphrey (sub Hilaire 38 minutes). Sub (not used): Cooper.