25th January 1992
Poor City escape with a a point.
Exeter City 1, Moran (pen)
Fulham 1, Brazil.
Report by Mark Halliwell
A controversial penalty award deep into first half injury time earned Exeter City a point they scarcely deserved. Referee Clive Wilkes must have been the only person in St James Park who thought Mark Kelly controlled David Cooper's deep cross with his hand as City players were as surprised as their Fulham counterparts when the Gloucester official pointed to the spot. Skipper Simon Morgan was booked for protesting but Steve Moran kept his cool to send Stannard the wrong way for his fourteenth goal of the season. But it was Fulham who were in the ascendency throughout. Their midfield duo of Kelly and namesake Paul making his first team debut - must have covered every blade of the rapidly cutting up grass keeping. Steve Williams and Paul Wimbleton quiet. City flattered to deceive, with some nice passing movements, but precious little end product, as wingers Mark Robson and Gary Marshall were given little service, hence they spent a lot of the game anonymous on their respective flanks. City weren't helped either by the need to reorganise their defence, which has been the cornerstone of many of their displays this season. They badly missed Scott Hiley's surging runs from right back and Scott Daniels' suspen- sion meant new signing Ian Thompstone - brought to partner Moran in attack - had to play at centre half. Understandably, the new boy and the again outstanding skipper for the day, Peter Whiston, took time to form an understanding, and City were shaky early on. It took a good save from Kevin Miller -one of many the big Cornishman had to make to foil Gary Brazil as early as the second minute and then the same player fired way wide seven minutes later after a Wimbleton error. It took City fifteen minutes to force their first opening - Robson turning neatly in the box but seeing his shot blocked on the line. Fulham really should have been ahead five minutes later when the impressive Mark Kelly fed Brazil twelve yards out but he shot well wide. It took City 33 minutes to force their first corner by - which time Fulham had won five - while keeper Jim Stannard had been a spectator. His inactivity finally ended two minutes from the break as a Williams' chip found David Cooper six yards out, but the veteran Stannard spread himself well to foil Cooper's point- blank effort with his knees. Seconds later he had to chase off his line to halt Wimbleton's forward charge. Despite their stroke of luck, City never looked like increas- ing that advantage as Fulham came out after the break determined to seek the points they deserved. On the hour, Sean Farrell had a point-blank header saved by Miller and it seemed that the Cornishman was going to keep the Londoners at bay. But an unfortunate piece of misjudgement brought the Cot- tagers level. Their first corner of the half was swung in by Julian Hails and Miller failed to connect with his punch. Farrell flicked it on at the near post and it was going in al- though Gary Brazil made sure at the far post despite Andy Cook's attempt to clear. Ball introduced Vince Hilaire, dropped after scoring City's third goal at Preston last week, in place of the off-colour Robson, but Fulham finished stronger and missed two golden chances to seal the points in the last ten minutes, left-back Martin Pike the un- likely culprit both times. First, on 81 minutes, he was set up by Eckhardt and Brazil, but saw his shot blocked by Miller, Thompstone completing the clearance on the line, the ball luckily ending up in Miller's arms. Then just two minutes from time, he burst through unchallenged, and although his shot beat Miller this time, it rolled agonisingly wide.
Miller. Brown.Cook.Williams.Thompstone. Whiston. Marshall. Wimbleton. Moran. Cooper. Robson
Subs: Hilaire (for Robson 75), Sprod.
Stannard; Marshall, Pike, P Kelly, Morgan, Thomas, Hails, Eckhardt, Farrell, Brazil, M Kelly; subs: Haag, Onwere.
Referee:- Clive Wilkes (Gloucester)
Bookings: Cooper (Exeter), M Kelly, Morgan, Eckhardt (Ful- ham)