17th October 1992
Mansfield T (h)
Williams shows form at last for Grecians
Exeter City 2 Evans, Jepson
Mansfield Town 0
Report by Simon Mills
Former Exeter, Torquay and Plymouth veteran George Foster received no charity from cold-hearted City as he watched his Mansfield side consigned to the basement by goals from Richard Evans and Ronnie Jepson.
On a chilly October afternoon City could have had three or four more as they warmed the hearts of fans and manager Alan Ball with a stylish performance jam- packed with good things.Ball had been forced to field. his most creative midfield line up With Andy Harris injured and David Cooper serving a three-match ban Steve Williams linked up with Eamonn Collins. The result was a scintillating display of passing as Williams recovered from some lack-lustre early season showings to register his most complete performance this year. While City were looser in mid-field as a result, disappointing Mansfield never threatened to provide much more than 90 minutes of effort from Steve Wilkinson and a few combative challenges from the abrasive Phil Stant. One particular moment of Williams' magic shone out. With 22 minutes gone he picked up a clearance and swung an inch perfect 60-yard pass across the field to John Hodge who put Evans in to confront keeper Jason Pearcey. Evans failed to take that chance but he had already put City in front five minutes into the game. Picking up Miller's clearance down the inside left channel, Evans cut inside to find Jepson and continued to run, Scott Hiley returned the ball to him and his 20-yard shot took a deflection off Mansfield defender ALan Walker to beat Pearcey. Ronnie Jepson was if anything more impressive than his striking partner, he dominated the aerial challenges and took the one chance that fell his way with real coolness. After City had dominated the first half hour he took advantage of fine work on the right hand side, John Hodge won this round of the contest with impressive left back Chris Withe playing the ball into the path of Scott Hiley who skipped to the byline. His cross came in low to the near post and Jepson deftly guided the ball past Pearcey into the far corner of the net. There was little in response from Mansfield who struggled to find any shape or form. They only troubled City from set pieces where centre-halves Steve Spooner and Alan Walker threatened. Spooner squandered the best opportunity that came their way heading Withe's free-kick wide of the left hand upright in the opening moments - and Stant also failed to find the target after 17 minutes from Brian Mc-Cord's cross. The Stags did apply some pressure late in the second half but Exeter have tightened up at the back after all Ball's criticisms of recent weeks and the nearest they came to conceding a goal was when Gary Ford's 83rd minute drive thumped against the top of the right hand post. All that remained was for Exeter to sit tight and squander one of the most clear cut chances seen at St James Park in recent years. With 19 minutes left, Collins' delicate ball found Hodge, Jepson knocked down the cross for Evans to blast against Withe on the line and Tom Kelly hit the rebound over the bar from six yards when it would have been easier to score. The result brings manager Ball three valuable points and having kept three clean sheets with Hiley, Williams, Collins, Jepson and Evans all in prime form for City the only way forward should be up.
Miller, Hiley, Cook, Williams, Brown., Whiston, Collins, Kelly, Jepson, Evans, Hodge. Subs: Moran, Redwood (not used).
Pearcey, Parkin, Withe, Spooner, Clarke, Walker, Ford, McCord, Stant, Wilkinson, Charles.; subs., McLoughlin (Walker 71minutes), Castledine (not used).
Referee: John Carter (Christchurch)
Bookings: Stant (Mansfield).