23rd August 2003
Chester City (h)
Renier Moor's first goal of the season earned Exeter a battling 2-1 win over promotion hopefuls Chester at St James Park.
Moor's 61st-minute strike completed a fine comeback from the Grecians after the visitors had taken a deserved lead after 20 minutes.
Scott Hiley was provoked into a crude tackle on Ian Foster and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.
Foster kept his cool and placed his spot-kick into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
City were level nine minutes later after Glenn Cronin lofted a hopeful delivery into the penalty area and James Coppinger headed the ball hard and low into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Against the run of play, it was Moor who had the final word when he latched on to a fine through-ball and unleashed an unstoppable drive that rocketed into net.
Exeter: James Bittner, James Bittner, Hiley, Gaia, Todd, Jeannin, Coppinger, Cronin, Thomas, Ampadu, Flack, Moor.
Subs: Rice, McConnell, Canham, Afful, Cheeseman.
Chester: McCaldon, Collins, Hatswell, Bolland, Ruffer, Brady, Davies, Carden, McIntyre, Foster, Stamp.
Subs: Rapley, Carey, Beesley, Twiss, Heard.
Referee: R East (Wilton).
Match report 2 from..
MOOR THE MERRIER!
Throughout the summer, much has been said and written about Chelsea's Russian uprising. However, today, a strong case was put forward for the Exeter Revolution, writes David Stowell.
Forget the millions of pounds being flashed around Stamford Bridge. Rookie manager Eamonn Dolan showed that stability in the ranks and the right blend of youth and experience can indeed produce attractive football and more importantly, three points. With boardroom squabbles, directorial arrests and celebrity directors a forgotten memory, a City squad assembled for a mere £10,000 and containing seven former club trainees took to the field. Midfield lynchpin Kwame Ampadu and veteran defender Scott Hiley shrugged off knocks to take their places in an unchanged City starting line-up.
City's second home game in the Nationwide Conference exploded into life from the off with Chester City immediately going on the offensive down the left flank. Throughout the opening exchanges, former Tranmere and Doncaster midfielder Kevin McIntyre was the visitors' principal threat, torturing City legend Hiley and carving out chances for visiting frontman Ian Foster and new boy Darren Stamp, signed on Friday from Northampton. As the home side came into the game, a measured cross-field ball from full-back Alexander Jeannin led to a smart stop from visiting glovesman Ian McCaldon as home Captain Glenn Cronin tried a cheeky long range effort. However, it was Conference title hopefuls Chester who drew first blood after City appeared to have weathered the opening twenty-minute storm. A mazy run by Foster forced Hiley into an ill-timed challenge inside the eighteen-yard box and referee East was left with no choice but to point to the spot. It was Foster himself who picked himself up, dusted himself down and drilled the penalty straight down the middle of James Bittner's goal, epitomising the visitors' early approach to the game - precise and direct.
At this point, Exeter's game-plan seemed temporarily to evaporate as the game became scrappy. Reinier Moor's clever turn and run briefly lifted the home fans' spirit but, having done the hard part, the resulting shot was nearer to the corner flag than Chester's goal. With inexperienced Bittner constantly flapping at crosses at the opposite end, one could sense that the game was Chester's for the taking. Indeed, Aussie John Brady - who won the Conference with Rushden and Diamonds a few years back - wasted a golden opportunity with the goal at his mercy and Bittner stranded. As the visitors piled on the pressure, the former Chippenham Town number one could only watch as Stamp fired in a Di Canio style karate kick effort that flashed inches wide.
With Dolan ranting and raving from the touchline with trademark pen and paper in hand, City began to fight back. Kwame Ampadu and Martin Thomas seized control of the midfield and after Moor had been cynically hacked down, it was Ampadu's dead ball on the half hour that reaped the ultimate reward and brought City level. As the set piece was headed out to James Coppinger, the former Newcastle winger volleyed the ball downwards into the St James' Park turf and past the towering McCaldon. Did Martin Thomas get the final touch? The 3,030 fans inside the ground did not care. It was one all and game on!
Almost immediately Ampadu and Ben Davies instigated an array of confrontations as Chester became unsettled. On the half hour, Cronin was cautioned, as was McIntyre who then clashed heads with unusually subdued Brazilian Santos Gaia and the dependable figure of Alexander Jeannin took control of City's left hand side.
Jeannin and the ever-industrious youngster Reinier Moor linked well with 'pocket-rocket' Thomas before a knockdown from Chester transfer target Steve Flack split the Chester rearguard and Thomas was unlucky to steer his shot wide with only the keeper to beat. Further persistence from Flack gave Ampadu the chance to find Coppinger with a driven cross but to no avail.
At the other end, Chris Todd and Gaia took it in turns to snuff out runs from Foster and Stamp as an awkward bounce put Bittner in trouble on the edge of his area. And right on half time, City had Hiley to thank for a heroic block to deny the troublesome Stamp again as he wiggled through on goal. Thomas was booked after a clumsy two-footed lunge in the Chester area and as the whistle went to bring a pulsating first half to a close, both the players and fans had a chance to catch their breath.
As early as the first minute of the second period, Foster was again the thorn in Exeter's side as he bobbed and weaved into the City box before dropping to the ground like a proverbial 'sack of potatoes.' Both referee East and the City fans were unimpressed and the former Conference promotion winner with Kidderminster was booed throughout.
City showed their strength down the right as the experienced Hiley continuously fed City's David Beckham look-alike Coppinger and it was the former Tyneside trainee who appeared to land an elbow on the lively McIntyre. Then, on the hour, the City faithful got the chance to salute the warrior like display shown by Ampadu as he made way for youngster Leslie Afful and within minutes the fans were on their feet again. A neat turn and through ball from Thomas released Flack and despite a sharp parry from McCaldon, the towering Chester keeper couldn't prevent Reinier Moor pouncing on the loose ball. St James' Park erupted.
Moor's first goal of the campaign lit the touch paper and this already physical game threatened to turn violent. Cronin clashed with Davies, as the ball became a mere spectator while Flack and burly defender Wayne Hatswell appeared to exchange shirts twenty-five minutes early. Minutes later, under the watchful eye of the old grandstand and the referee's assistant, Brady lashed out at Frenchman Jeannin but no action was taken. This spell prompted visiting manager Mark Wright to shuffle his pack as Michael Twiss - formerly on the books at Old Trafford - replaced the increasingly ineffective Carl Ruffer, but it was Foster yet again who fired wastefully over with options to his left and right before being replaced. Eamonn Dolan handed a debut to former Bridgwater Town marksman Graham Cheeseman as he withdrew Moor to a rapturous reception from Exeter's own 'Theatre of Dreams'. The youngster, although occasionally labelled as raw and inexperienced, has great potential and possesses a predatory instinct second to none at the club.
The bustling Coppinger and strapping Cheeseman exchanged passes as pint-sized Afful charged through the middle only to be denied by an alert Ian McCaldon. And it was Cheeseman again whose left-wing pull back teed up Flack who could only volley the wrong side of the far post.
As the game drew to a close, Chester's attacks became more and more desperate as they continued to employ the long ball. Both City livewire Thomas and Chester's McIntyre could have been sent for an early bath for separate lunges in the centre of the park but as young Sean Canham briefly entered the fray, referee East signalled that time was up and sealed an impressive three points for City against a team who will be there or thereabouts come the end of April. Dolan and his band of merry men applauded fans at all four corners of the ground. Make no mistake, this performance, not to mention the result, speaks volumes about the new Exeter City FC.
Exeter City: Bittner, Hiley, Thomas, Gaia, Todd, Coppinger (Canham 90), Cronin, Moor (Cheeseman 74), Flack, Ampadu (Afful 59), Jeannin
Subs not used: Rice, McConnell
Chester City: McCaldon, Ruffer (Twiss 66), Bolland, Hatswell, Collins, Brady, McIntyre, Davies, Carden, Foster (Beesley 74), Stamp
Subs not used: Rapley, Carey, Heard