6 February 1993.
Rotherham United (a)
A gamble that badly misfired hits Rotherham
Rotherham United 1 Exeter City 1.
Saturday 6 February 1993.
By Robert Gledhill
ROTHERHAM United's FA Cup gamble badly misfired in the League on Saturday as they faced the other side from St James' Park. Exeter City may not have the pedigree of Newcastle United but they had the tenacity to stick to a task which Phil Henson's men should really have put beyond them well before the last half hour. The visitors fashioned just two openings and scored from one of them, largely due to a blunder from young goalkeeper Matt Clarke. The 19-year-old did everything right on his debut by rushing out to narrow the angle when John Hodge broke through a square defence and finally fired wide.
But Clarke made a hash of his attempted save from a 71st-minute volley from Ronnie Jepson, going down to his left but spooning over the shot into the net for Exeter's equaliser. Rotherham were left to rue the absence of Billy Mercer, who had bravely turned out at St James' Park for the FA Cup replay with Newcastle despite having burst a blood vessel in his left leg. The pain was too much for him to turn out on Saturday, though he did collect the player-of-the-month award for January, and he has a chance of making it for tomorrow night's Second Division clash with Hull City at Millmoor. Striker Jon Howard could be a doubt, however, for he had to leave the field for three stitches on an eyebrow after an 85th minute aerial collision. He had looked the likeliest to add to Rother- ham's second minute goal with some direct running at the Exeter defence but, as with much of Rotherham's play, the quality finish was lacking. Exeter had obviously done their homework. Alan Tonge shadowing play. maker Shaun Goodwin throughout the 90 minutes and Danny Bailey playing a roaming dismantling job in front of his defence. But Rotherham, buoyed but perhaps tired by their midweek Cup display, should have built on the early strike from Shaun Goater. The Bermudan took his chance in style, latching on to a downfield header from Nicky Law, surging past former Denaby United defender Jon Brown and going around goalkeeper Kevin Miller before tucking the ball home from a tight angle. Goater, surprisingly keeping Tony Cunningham on the bench, volleyed just over from another chance created by Chris Hutchings but it was not until the start . of the second half that Rotherham laid siege to the Exeter defence. They were sparked by Goodwin playing further up front but too often they were let down by some badly timed runs and poor pass- ing. And when they did get shots on target, Miller was equal to anything the Millers could fire at him. As Rotherham's frustra- tion grew, so did Exeter's confidence and Hodge always looked a threat on the break. The emergence of former Southampton striker Steve Moran also produced fresh ideas but fortunately for Rotherham he had to withdraw with a pulled hamstring after just 16 minutes of action.
Clarke, Pickering Hutchings. Banks, Johnson, Law. Wilder. Goodwin, Howard (Cun ningham, 851. Goeter, Barrick,
Exeter City: Millers, Hiley, Cooper. Bailey, Daniels, Brown, Harris, Tonge, Jepson, Dolan (Moran, 61: Taylor, 77). Hodge.
Referee: M Peck (Kendal).