Match 48
23 March 1993.
Reading (h)

Match Report by Ed Hogg

Exeter City 0 Reading 0.

Tuesday 23 March 1993.


Att: 2874

THE candidate for potentially the toughest job on the St James's Park payroll passed his first test with flying colours last night. Faced with a 2,874-strong interview panel, newly-signed right back Chris White appeared blissfully unaware how keenly his credentials for the position were being inspected. Alan Ball's free transfer replacement for old favourite Scott Hiley, who promoted himself to Birmingham in a £150,000 move a fortnight ago, turned in a workmanlike yet hugely promising debut. Hiley was the Park icon. Home grown, exciting and consistent he was one of the biggest talents Exeter have ever produced. White is no Hiley. Where his predecessor had panache, the present incumbent of the No. 2 shirt has power. Where Hiley had stealth, White has strength. But, as City fans saw in the stalemate with Reading, Ball's 22-year-old import import from Peterborough has a trick or two, likes to get forward and - typically - is happiest with the ball at ground level. "I was very pleased with Chris. It looks like I might have made the right decision about him," said Ball, while still preaching the one swallow not making a summer maxim. "I saw a lot of things that I liked about both my new acquisitions." Midfielder Jason Minett, drafted in on-loan from Norwich until the end of the sea- son, was also making his home debut having featured initial- ly in last weekend's 4-1 defeat at Bolton. The near-transfer deadline activity at City has been such that only the Football League's required 24 hours notice prevented a third new face - £25,000 Bolton utility striker Stuart Storer - adding further unfamiliarity to the Exeter ranks. And with veteran part-timer Kevin Bond making his first appearance since February 13 to provide solidity in a sweepers' role, repeated announce- ments of team changes from the match programme were necessary. No less than five of Ball's starting line-up didn't feature 10 days ago when Hartlepool were City's last guests. Defenders Andy Cook and Peter Whiston were out with groin and thigh injuries respectively and winger John Hodge withdrew at the 11th hour after becoming the latest victim of the 'flu bug sweeping the City camp. Small wonder then that Exeter didn't gel immediately. Reading 'keeper Steve Francis started the contest with four consecutive clean sheets to his credit - he won't have had an easier shut-out. It took the home side until the 71st minute to force him into a save worthy of the description. Jim McIntyre's neat through prod bisected the Royals' rearguard but substitute Eamonn Dolan elected to chip rather than drive and didn't get enough height on his effort. Ten minutes later White and Dolan combined to set up Steve Moran for a shot that was well blocked by David McDonald and then White swapped passes with McIntyre and delivered a wicked low cross that Keith McPherson just prevented reaching the loitering Moran. That - and a stunning 52nd minute move -was the spo- radic total of City real attack- ing efforts. But they were near-watertight at the back. The visitors' only serious glimpse of a goal came when Exeter skipper Jon Brown superbly prevented Jimmy Quinn's 30th minute shot reaching an empty net after 'keeper Kevin Miller had strayed off his line to plunge at the feet of Andy Gray. Ronnie Jepson then provided McIntyre with the chance for his third long-range effort of the opening period and it was the on-loan Bristol City midfielder who nearly completed the sparkling Exeter advance six minutes after the interval. Jepson laid Brown's long ball off to White who exchanged passes with ex- Royal Danny Bailey before his cross picked out Moran with magnetic accuracy. Moran chested down and McIntyre's 18-yarder flashed fractionally wide of the far post.

Exeter City:
1 Kevin Miller
2 Chris White
3 Toby Redwood
4 Danny Bailey
5 Scott Daniels
6 Jon Brown
7 Kevin Bond
8 Jason Minnett
9 Ronnie Jepson
10 Steve Moran
11 Jim McIntyre
Andy Harris (Redwood 56)
Eamonn Dolan (Jepson 54)

1 Steve Francis
2 Mick Gooding
3 David McDonald
4 Keith McPherson
5 Jeff Hopkins
6 David Bass
7 Michael Gilkes
8 Kevin Dillon
9 Jimmy Quinn
10 Andy Gray
11 Scott Taylor
Mark Holzman
James Lambert (Bass 81)

Referee: Paul Scoble (Portsmouth)

Linesman: P. Norman
Linesman: K. Pike



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