Match 28
26th December 1992
Plymouth Argyle (h)


Ed Hogg reports from St James's Park

Referee: Bob Hamer (Bristol)
Linesman: M. Riley
Linesman: P. Robinson

Crowd: 6,534

A LINESMAN'S lack of generosity scarcely befitting the festive sea- son prevented Exeter City walloping Boxing Day guests Plymouth Argyle by the same scoreline that they handed out to Torquay earlier in the month. Three times in 17 first-half minutes and with an escalating degree of controversy - Mr Riley raised his red and yellow flag to deny Steve Moran and John Hodge. But Alan Ball's shoestring side still emerged as comfortable winners to explode the oft-maintained theory that football managers get what they pay for. Despite the absence of £275,000 winger Paul Dalton, who was allowed to rush home to his mother's hospital bedside on Christmas Day, Argyle's side would have barely left player-boss Peter Shilton enough change from £800,000 to buy a new pair of goalkeeping gloves. City's team-without injured £60,000 striker Ronnie Jepson - was assembled for a trifling £125,000, but Ball's outfit is rich in the fighting qualities that are tested in derby contests. Fittingly, and agonisingly for Plymouth chairman Dan McCauley who has funded Shilton's spending spree, it was Exeter skipper Peter Whiston who engineered the triumph. The centre back - 25 next week, was booted out of Home Park by ex-Argyle boss Dave Kemp in 1990 before joining Torquay last September. Making a welcome return after a three-match suspension, Whiston was typically rock-like in defence. And it took him just five minutes to prove a point to the Pilgrims. By then Moran had already beaten Shilton via a post when Whiston's second minute shot hit ex-City favourite Richard Dryden. There were few complaints about the offside rul- ing, fewer still when Whiston rose early to power Alan Tonge's left flank cross past Shilton's right hand from eight yards. Nine minutes later City thought they had confirmed the clear superiority that stemmed from the vice-like grip exerted in midfield by Danny Bailey and Tonge. On- loan striker Joe Gallen miscued his effort from Hodge's cross, but Moran rammed home. Again Mr Riley raised his right arm. Almost immediately Hodge stepped neatly in front of Steve Morgan to sidefoot home Gallen's pinpoint centre only to find himself similarly out of favour with officialdom. With City imposing a near-vice-like grip in all areas, it took 27 minutes before home goalkeeper Kevin Miller had cause for concern. Steve Castle broke on the left, Whiston prevented Dwight Marshall turn- ing Castle's cross goalwards and Kevin Nugent drove the loose ball across the face of goal. Miller made his first stop after 37 minutes, plunging on Martin Barlow's low 20-yarder before Darren Garner blocked a Tom Kelly volley at the other end and Moran saw a half-chance evaporate when Keith Hill intercepted. Shilton might have been beaten three times in the opening four minutes of the second period. Gallen burst through a feeble Argyle rearguard action to curl an 18-yard shot fractionally wide, then Daniels nodded a Kelly corner past the far post and immediately Moran cut inside to shoot disappointingly close to the goalkeeper. Gallen, lively and ready to carry the burden of City's attacking thrust, started and might have finished the move of the contest on 59 minutes. He fed Andy Cook and Moran was involved before Gallen eventually scooped his effort too high from the edge of the Plymouth penalty area. Right back Scott Hiley then provided an excellent cross for Gallen - under heavy challenge from Dryden - to nod just wide and then Kelly looped a header over from another Hiley centre. A 70th minute Miller double- stop from substitute Paul Adcock and Marshall pre- served the home side's lead and provided the incentive to seal victory. Within three minutes Moran won a sixth Exeter corner, Kelly floated it to the far post and Daniels' late arrival ensured he was unnattended to powerfully head his first goal in 15 months. Shilton then saved from Moran after superb work by Cook before Hodge's speculative long-range 81st minute effort shaved the Plymouth crossbar. Appropriately the last word belonged to Exeter, Hiley checking inside in stoppage time to unleash a thundering left-foot shot that whistled past Shilton's post.

Exeter City 2

1 Kevin Miller
2 Scott Hiley
3 Andy Cook
4 Alan Tonge
5 Scott Daniels
6 Peter Whiston
7. Danny Bailey
8 Tom Kelly
9 Steve Moran
10 Joe Gallen
11 John Hodge
Subs: Kevin Bond, Eamonn Dolan

Plymouth Argyle 0

1 Peter Shilton
2 Keith Hill
3 Steve Morgan
4 Richard Dryden
5 Adrian Burrows
6 Warren Joyce
7 Martin Barlow
8 Steve Castle
9 Kevin Nugent
10 Dwight Marshall
11 Darren Garner
Subs: Paul Adcock (Garner half-time) Marc Edworthy


Whiston, 6 Daniels, 74

Shots/headers on target: 6
Shots/headers on target: 4
Exeter:- Corners: 6
Plymouth:- Corners: 0

Sunday Independant report 
Report by Harley Lawer

THE card attached to this belated Christmas present should have read: 'To Exeter City with love and best wishes from Plymouth Argyle....' That, without doubt, is how around 1,000 suicidal Plymouth fans interpreted their team's miserable failure to inject the same hot-blooded passion into this long-awaited conflict as they always reserve for local derby showdowns with their bitterest enemies. And you could fully understand why they felt so aggrieved. There really was only one team in it from the start and precious little changed of any significant consequence to suggest that the final outcome would be any different. But to suggest that City's conclusive victory could be fully explained away by a large dose of seasonal goodwill from their generous neighbours would detract unfairly from their handsome. achievement. City took the game by the scruff of the neck from the first kick and, despite a succession of setbacks that could have so easily sapped their confidence, they refused to let go until they got the goals all their hard work deserved. Exeter were more organised, more creative and always more determined to make their superior attacking play count. They were so keen to snatch the first all-important goal that
Steve Moran had the ball in Peter
Shilton's net after only two minutes.
Amazingly, they had two more wiped out for offside infringements in addition to Peter Whiston's morale-boosting header, inside 17 minutes of frenetic activity in the Argyle half of the field. Argyle supporters packed behind Shilton's goal could only look in total silence with a close-up view of their defence being stretched to the limit and the unwelcome sight of their player-manager retrieving the ball from the back of his net on four separate occasions. Shilton had gambled Richard Dryden and Adrian Burrows teaming up for the first time in the middle, allow- ing Keith Hill to take over from the injured Gary Poole at right- back. Dryden and Burrows clearly lacked match practice together and simply weren't given time to settle by Exeter's all action start. When Steve Castle miscued a corner clearance stright back into trouble, Moran slotted the ball home. City's premature goal celebrations were cut short by a flagging linesman. Many Argyle players still hadn't made contact on the match ball when Alan Tonge hoisted a centre over from the left and Whiston, who had been involved in the build-up only a second or two before, was waiting, unchallenged to plant a spectacular sixth minute header into the roof of Shilton's net. Exeter were forcing their fourth corner by the 13th minute when, amid another defensive shambles, Moran got the final touch over the line af- ter the whistle had gone for off-side. Four minutes later even the most biased observer found it hard to believe that John Hodge had received the ball in an offside position when Exeter were again on target. Steve Morgan appeared to be goalside of the winger when he took on and evaded the de- fender's attention to beat Shilton for the fourth time. Argyle's midfield challenge was smothered under the aggressive influence of Tonge and Danny Bailey, who chased and harried with all the bustle and enthusiasm every team in local derby action needs when whole-hearted effort invariably brings more reward than fancy footwork. Apart from that, the bumpy  St James Park pitch wasn't suitable for an accurate ground passing game. Exeter played more to other strengths while Argyle struggled fitfully to find any worth exploiting. The surface also made it a nightmare for defenders trying to relieve pressure by returning the ball to their goalkeeper but only Argyle were made to suf- fer that ordeal with Shilton repeatedly called on to salvage desperate situations around his penalty area. Exeter boss Alan Ball couldn't stop himself expressing a few words of protest when he confronted Bristol ref- eree Bob Hamer at the tunnel at half-time. But any concern Ball had then about his team being de- prived of an extra goal or two lead by an over-enthusiastic linesman soon evaporated in the second half. Exeter, having contained 10 15 minutes of pre-interval attacking effort by Argyle, were quickly back on the offensive again. The impressive Joe Gallen, holding off two defenders, only just missed the far post after bending an ambitious 20-yard drive towards an inviting gap on Shilton's left. Moran tested his former Southampton team mate with a low drive, and the busy Gallen, with a wildly-directed shot and a more accurate header, also kept Argyle's back four fully occupied. With 70 minutes gone, Argyle finally created their one and only chance of the game. When Martin Barlow headed the ball on, Kevin Nugent's square pass inside found substi- tute Paul Adcock with a clear run at goal and only Kevin Miller to beat Adcock, who replaced Darren Garner at half-time, looked favourite, but took too long controlling the ball and Miller had time to advance and use his hands to divert the shot. The rebound broke for Dwight Marshall, but Miller again triumphed by getting his legs in the way to block the follow-up shot. Argyle never managed a corner in the whole 90 minutes and City's sixth and last in the 74th minute brought the security of a second decisive goal. Scott Daniels, lurking up behind his attack, met Tom Kelly's deep corner with a powerful lunge and, if Shilton saw it, he certainly gave no in- dication that he could move quickly enough to stop the ball crashing past him. Argyle hit back and, with seconds to go, Warren Joyce's shot ended up among the Argyle fans who refused to give the ball back. That defiant gesture summed up in more than words how they felt about their team's ca- pitulation on the one day of the year so far when they felt their dismal away form wouldn't be such a prohibitive factor. But even 40-odd miles away from Home Park still appears too far for Shilton's patched-up, injury-hit side to change the habits of a season. Argyle supporters - unsympathetic to Shilton's continuing selection problems - heckled his players as they trudged off, leaving the stage clear for City players led by the exuberant - Bailey - to milk the rapturous applauase of their delighted followers. Sixty-four years of unbeaten league rivalry at St James Park now becomes 65 for Exeter and, having already beaten Torquay United 5-0, the Grecians have aleady got their hands on the unoffical Devon championship pennant.


Paul F



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