Match 09
15th September 1992
Wigan Athletic (h)

First victory becomes a crucial goal at the Park


Howard King (Merthyr Tydfil)
Linesman: J Cox
Linesman: F Martin

FACT 1: Exeter City are a much better side, playing much better football than they were 12 months ago.

FACT 2: This time last year City had lost their first five games on the trot but still had twice as many league points as they do now, writes Ed Hogg.

The stark statistics might not add up but such is the unpredictability of the game. City, winless from their opening seven league outings, have just four points following last night's 0- 0 home draw with Wigan Reading and only and Huddersfield keep them off the Division 2 bottom slot. Undeniably City must start winning. The questions are when and how. Bar the defensive blunders that allowed Brighton to escape with a 3-2 victory at the Park they have consistently produced solid performances since trouncing Birmingham 4-1 in the Coca-Cola Cup three weeks and half a dozen contests ago. The key is undoubtedly patience. Understandably it is hard for players, fans and, not least manager Alan Ball, to remain undaunted particularly when sides like Wigan come to the Westcountry content merely to get bodies behind the ball. With visiting boss Dave Philpotts employing former Leicester, Everton and Scotland midfielder Ian Wilson as the final hurdle in a sweeper system it took the Grecians 17 minutes to seriously trouble Latics' goalkeeper Ian Adkins. Peter Whiston's free-kick got Andy Cook behind John Doolan and after Adkins had flapped at the cross under pressure from Ronnie Jepson, he only just managed to grab John Hodge's intelligent looping header from under the crossbar. A minute later Hodge should have done better when Jepson sent him racing into the box and Steve Moran was free six yards out but Hodge crossed into Adkins' arms. City custodian Kevin Miller then coped typically efficiently with Joe Parkinson's swirling 25-yarder before performing a brilliant reflex save to deny the same man from close-range when Kevin Langley provided Wigan's 32nd minute first real attack.

A minute later Exeter right back Scott Hiley, who turned in another five-star performance, got away from Chris Makin and Bryan Griffiths to cross and Moran headed over. And swiftly last season's 21-goal hero Steve Moran, who opened his account in the weekend's 2-2 draw at Port Vale, just failed to connect with another superb centre, this time from left back Cook. Then Alan Johnson just cleared from Moran after Jepson had turned brilliantly inside the box. Andy Harris miscued his volley when the Wigan defence failed to deal with Hodge's 48th minute flagkick and then Adkins clutched a powerful Cook drive from fully 30 yards. Langley shot wide of Miller's right-hand upright and as Wigan grew in confidence the big 'keeper had to be alert to Griffiths' edge-of-the-box effort. Jepson volleyed a Cook centre wide on 60 minutes and then Moran was injured as he carved his way through the defence to reach Jepson's flick-on and bring an excellent block from Adkins. City had penalty appeals, for John Robertson's alleged push on Jepson previous indiscretions would suggest it was a valid one and Wilson's handball, turned down. The visitors could have snatched a totally unmerited victory - as they did at the Park seven months ago - if Hiley hadn't headed Johnson's 85th minute effort off the line but there was still time for Jepson to be foiled by Adkins after he had controlled substitute Eamonn Collins' free-kick.

1 Kevin Miller
2 Scott Hiley
3 Andy Cook
4 Tom Kelly
5 Jon Brown
6 Peter Whiston
7 David Cooper
8 Andy Harris
9 Ronnie Jepson
10 Steve Moran
11 John Hodge
Eamonn Collins (Moran 67),
Toby Redwood

1 Nigel Adkins
2 Joe Parkinson
3 Chris Makin
4 Alan Johnson
5 John Doolan
6 Kevin Langley
7 lan Wilson
8 John Robertson
9 Phil Daley
10 Gary Powell
11 Bryan Griffiths
Alan Tankard (Doolan 63),
Paul Kirwan

Half time: 0-0
Crowd: 2,393

Exeter  Shots/headers on target: 6
Wigan Shots/headers on target: 5
Exeter Corners: 7
Wigan Corners: 5

Match Report 2 

It became fairly obvious after the opening five minutes that Wigan come to St. James Park intent on securing a point.

The lonely figure of top scorer Bryan Griffiths up front and the rest of his team encamped in their own half became a regular feature of the game.

But City had to be aware of Griffith's pace and on a couple of occasions the City defence had to be on its toes to halt the diminutive striker as he chased long clearances.

City worked hard all game with the right flank combination of Scott Hiley and John Hodge caus- ing the Wigan defence their most anxious moments but the best chance of the night fell to Steve Moran but his shot cannoned back off the legs of Wigan 'keeper Nigel Adkins.



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