18th January 1992
Preston North End (a)
THE PLASTIC LEAVES CITY IN CREDIT!'
Ed Hogg (Express & Echo)
'EXETER CITY supporters will have to go a long way to see anybody other than leading marksman Steve Moran score but if the last week is anything to go by the trip will be worth it. In Saturday's superb 3-1 third division win at Preston, City were well in credit as they used their plastic resources to give the hosts a lesson in- how to play on the artificial Deepdale surface. And following the 1-0 Autoglass Trophy success at West Brom in midweek, it was the first time since the closing stages of the fourth division championship winning season of 1989-90 that Exeter had chalked up two consecutive away victories. Mark Robson, Paul Wimbleton and Vince Hilaire all struck splendid second goals of the season to dispose comfortably of a Preston side who had only been beaten once at home in the league all season and had striker John Thoma sent off to add to their misery.
Robson's Hawthorns match-winner was his first goal since returning to Exeter on a month's loan from Spurs and neither Wimbleton nor Hilaire have netted at St James's Park yet. Moran, meanwhile, revels at the Park. Only two of his 13 goals this season have come away from home, the most recent being the winner when City last won on their division three travels, 2-1 at Hull on October 5th.
Right back Scott Hiley is the only other Grecian to have found the target in the past nine home games and he will be out for another couple of months following his hernia operation. His deputy Jon Brown and central defender Scott Daniels were arguably the two City men least suited to the pacey Deepdale surface. With assistant manager Steve Williams back in the reckoning after a two-match suspension, Ball opted for a sweeper system with Williams tidying up behind the back four until City were leading 2-0. They got off to a flying start when Robson put them ahead after just three minutes. City custodian Kevin Miller fed hardworking left back David Cooper whose inch-perfect chip got Robson in behind Steve Senior. The left winger cut inside and as Simon Farnworth came off his line he neatly slotted the ball just inside the far post. Miller soon had to turn a Gareth Ainsworth drive over and then Thomas got away from Daniels to shoot wide before Gary Marshali almost got Moran in as the visitors regained control. And after 27 minutes midfielder Wimbleton increased the City lead thanks to some sloppy Preston defending. Moran caused the initial problem as he challenged for a far post header. The shaky Farmworth mistimed his punch, Williams nodded the loose ball towards the line, Wimbleton drilled home tidily from 15 yards goal and when Gary Swann had cleared off the lines
With Hilaire and Wimbleton running the midfield show, City were well in control. Preston's immediate attempted fightback was limited to Graham Shaw's inaccurate 20 yarder and a poor Adrian Hughes header that drifted wide. And 60 seconds before the break they were reduced to 10 men. Williams back pass lacked a little power but Thomas's two-footed leap at the chest of the prostrate Miller was one of frustration rather than a realistic attempt to gain possession. Rel- erce John Brandwood thought long and hard and eventually produced the red card. Majestic stand-in skipper Peter Whiston made two timely interceptions to deny Shaw and Ainsworth early in the second half before Robson, Wimbleton and Hilaire combined for a classy left flank move that almost got Moran in. And then Marshall skipped around two challenges to send in a testing right wing centre that Hughes put behind for a corner as Moran threatened. Hughes sent another far post header wide at the other end from Lee Ashcroft's cross before Brown's name joined those of Wimbleton,. Hughes and Ashcroft in Mr Brandwood's book for a foul that Ashworth made a meal of. Hilaire's elegant 78th minute drive was the pick of the City goals. He got the ball 25 yards out from a short corner and as Robson looked for the return chose instead to curl a precise low shot i through a packed penalty area and beyond the reach of Farnworth. Preston boss Les Chapman immediately sent on substitute Matt Lambert. He saved some face in Preston's fifth straight defeat when he fired home after City had failed to clear an 84th minute corner.