16 March 1993.
Autoglass Southern Area final first leg.
Port Vale (a)
Port Vale 2 Exeter City 1.
Tuesday 16 March 1993.
Referee:DJ Gallagher (Banbury)
Autoglass Southern Area Final
Ball's bubbling as Vale blow goal-den chances
Report By Chris Harper
PORT VALE frittered away chances from beginning to end to let Exeter off the hook in the home leg of their Autoglass Trophy southern area final last night. Even Exeter manager Alan Ball admitted: "We should have been dead and buried, which is why I fancy we will now go through. "Port Vale will never have a better chance to have the tie all over and done with, so I have to be happy that we are still in with a very good chance. We can't be that bad again for a while. "I expect us to battle but I also expect us to be better than we were. Port Vale played all the football so I am absolutely delighted that we go into the next game only one down." Ball's criticism seemed a little harsh for Exeter showed enough character to suggest that Vale still have it all to do when they go to St James' Park for the return on April 21.
Manager John Rudge conceded: "There is still a lot of football to be played in this match. We are a goal in front but we are not as comfortable as we would have liked, so there is all to play for. "We started at a good pace, scored an early goal and probably could have had more but then we lost our way. They scored with virtually their first shot and it took us a while to get back any rhythm. We got into good areas and made good chances but did not capi- talise on them." Ian Taylor, playing up front, scored his first goal in nine games to give Vale their slender advantage after they had threatened to take the game by storm. Rudge opted for a 4-4-2 formation, leaving out Peter Billing to accommodate an extra attacker in John Jeffers, who should have opened Vale account on 30 seconds. Nicky Cross pounced on hesitancy between Exeter centre-backs Daniels and Whiston to lift the ball towards the far post where Jeffers hoisted his shot over the bar from six yards. Exeter goalkeeper Kevin Miller was supposed to be suffering from flu but there was nothing sluggish about his reactions as he saved from Cross and Robin van der Laan in one-way traffic. Vale made their break- through after 15 minutes from the penalty spot. Cook hauled down Taylor after an exchange of passes with Ray Walker. Paul Kerr, entrusted with his first Vale spot kick, neatly tucked the ball inside the keeper's left hand post. Jeffers was prominent as Vale called the tune for half an hour. He fired wide after a mazy dribble had tied Exeter defenders in knots but then, quite out of the blue,the visitors hit a stunning equaliser on 37 minutes. Danny Bailey, whose mandate seemed to be to police van der Laan in mid- field, picked up a loose ball and from at least 30 yards took Paul Musselwhite by surprise with a shot that hit the inside of the keeper's right hand post and bounced into the net. Vale were seldom the same again. A game in which there had only been one team in it suddenly became a contest. Steve Moran had the ball in the net only to be flagged offside but within five minutes of the restart the Exeter striker was presented with the sort of opportunity a player of his experience should have relished. Ronnie Jepson's flicked header reached John Hodge whose well struck shot was splendidly saved by Musselwhite but the rebound fell invitingly into the path of Moran who missed the tatget from close range. Vale, along with the crowd, seemed to be growing in anxiety when they regained the lead in the 74th minute. Walker played the ball wide to Kent and from the resulting cross Taylor was on hand to head home. Rudge promptly made a substitution with Keith Houchen taking over from Kerr One more goal could have made so much difference to Vale's chances of reaching Wembley and they should have bulged the net in the last minute. Following a long free kick by Dean Glover the ball was headed down to the feet of Cross who snatched at the chance.
Musselwhite; Kent, Sulley, Walker, Swan, Glover, Kerr (Houchen, 75), van der Laan, Cross, Jeffers. Taylor. Sub not used: Porter.
EXETER: Miller, Brown, Cook (Tonge, 55), Bailey, Daniels, Whiston, Redwood, Mcintyre, Jepson, Moran (Dolan, 80). Hodge.
Booking: Daniels (Exeter).
Shots/headers on target:
Port Vale 10, Exeler 5.
Port Vale 7, Exeter 4