20th January 1996
And on the 17th February 1996
Friendly at Crediton United
SATURDAY 20th JANUARY 1995.
DARLINGTON 1 EXETER CITY 0.
Darlington team: Lucas, Shaw, Bamard, Appleby, Brumwell, Gregan, Himsworth, Olsson, Painter, McMahon, Blake (Mattison 89th).
Subs not used Crosby, Gaughan.
Grecians team: Peter Fox, Neil Parsley, Darren Hughes, Paul Buckle, Noel Blake, Jon Richardson (Nicky Medlin 63rd). Colin Anderson, Mark Cooper (Leon Braithwaite 69th), Lee Bradbury. Danny Bailey, Mark Came
Subs not used: Gary Rice.
Scorer: Darlington: Blake.
All too often this sesson Exeter City have more than matched their opponents away from St James Park, but have had to retum to Devan empty handed. The game at Darlington was a familiar tale as City held Darlington at the break, created chances and seemed set for at least a share of the spoils at the very least. But Darlington were to score the only goal of the game in the second half which left City player- manager Peter Fox stating that he would be making changes to the squad.
Lee Bradbury again showed why he is so highly rated as he gave the Darlington defence plenty in worry about. But in faimess he had little support, and it was in the strikers department that City paid the penalty.
Talking of penalties, City had a great chance to have taken it has to be said a lucky lead after they were awarded a penalty which was certainly a harsh decision as the Darlington keeper was alleged to have pushed Bradbury Up stepped the normally reliable Paul Buckle, but Lucas dived low to his left to block the spot kick.
Darlington's winning goal came in the 52nd minute. Mark Bamard made ground down the left and crossed for Robert Blake to head home from ten yards- his first ever League goal. Darlington pressed hard seeking another goal, but the nearest they came was when they hit a post.
Exeter threw everyone forward in the last few minutes in a last ditch effort to salvage something out of the game, and they almost did as Noel Blake sent in a 20 yard shot that looked a goal all the way until Lucas managed to get a hand to the ball and turn it away for a comer
A long way to go for nothing, and a disappointing result, especially as quite frankly Darlington did not look any better than Exeter City. As it turned out, Darlington completed a League double over the Grecians.
WEDNESDAY 17th JANUARY 1996 FRIENDLY.
CREDITON UNITED 0 EXETER CITY 4.
Scorers: Exeter: Cooper, Ghazghan, Rice, Baker (og)
Player-manager Peter Fox continued with the policy of taking his side around the local non-league sides. This has a two fold advantage, one it gives all his players on the fringe of the first team squad a run-out, and secondly it is felt that the games represent an excellent public relations exercise. More so in the case of Crediton United, who last season allowed poalkeeper Mike Barrett to play for the Grecians and this season current United keeper Ryan Draper has joined the City on non-contract forms.
It proved to be an excellent work-out for both teams, with City using no fewer than twenty two different players! There was one injury scare however, as central defender Mark Came had to taken to hospital for amantion to a nasty looking head wound after a clash of heads in the 24th minute.
Mark Cooper put the City in front after five minutes with a free-kick after he had been pushed over by Jason Heath. The Grecians went 2-0 up shortly later when Crediton traist Kevin Baker unluckily diverted the ball past his own keeper, Ryan Draper.
City had further chances to extend their lead, notably from Leon Braithwaite, Richard Pears and Barry McConnell They finally made sure of victory when City Under 18's leading goalscorer Sufyan Ghaghazi made his way through the Crediton defence to score. A fourth goal followed when Gary Rice powered home an 84th minute volley from 20 yards range.