27 March 2001.
Flack's fourth in row eams point
STRIKER FOLLOWS IN FOOTSTEPS OF LEGEND
EXETER CITY 1 DARLINGTON 1
EXETER City and Darlington traded two goals in three minutes to reach a stalemate that did little to boost either club's chances of clinging on to their Nationwide League status. Steve Flack underlined his sizzling current form by scoring for the fourth consecutive league game the first man to achieve the feat since Grecians great Tony Kellow two decades ago. However, Richard Hodgson then produced a corking finish to wreck Exeter's hopes of a fifth successive home victory. The Exeter camp rightly felt cheated out of a late penalty when referee Steve Tomlin failed to spot an outrageous handball. And after shading a dishwater-dull first half, City produced the clear majority of chances in a pulsating second period. Defeat, though, would have been rough justice on a new-look Darlington side who battled back bravely following Flack's instinctive 61st minute opener. "We haven't been beaten and we go into another home game on Sat- urday full of fight and spirit," reflected a philosophical City football consultant Steve Perryman. "Flackie's was a fine goal. He got his long leg in there and it was reward for the effort he put in all night." Exeter were first to master the gluepot conditions, winning possession effortlessly and stringing to- gether a series of promising passing moves. Flack directed a free header weakly into the gloves of Peter Keen from the first of a steady stream of cleverly-crafted Andy Roscoe crosses. On-loan frontman Gary Birch thrust in for his full debut after Alex Inglethorpe pulled a muscle while warming up then nodded back across goal only for the ball to flick harmlessly off the head of his strike partner. Then an extravagant cross-field ball from Graeme Power allowed Paul Buckle the time and space to set his sights, only for Keen to produce a fine stop at the foot of his near post. But Darlington's five-man rear- guard, busy midfield and willing frontrunners increasingly managed to hustle City out of their stride. The only other meaningful action of the first 45 minutes came when Roscoe's fizzing free-kick was beaten to safety by Keen. Flack headed limply wide from a Buckle corner in the second half and sprightly Quakers hitman Clint Marcelle was halted by a magni- ficent recovering tackle by Jamie Campbell as the game finally started to light up. City broke the deadlock on the hour mark when Power's persist- ence paved the way for Roscoe to fire in a deflected cross from the left. Flack, whose Midas Touch shows no sign of deserting him, extended his left boot to divert the ball past Keen from the tightest of angles. But within the space of just three minutes, Hodgson found the time to enter the action, cheekily nick the ball through the legs of Mark Bur- rows and plant his shot into the far bottom corner. Prolific Darlington midfielder Glenn Naylor might have added an immediate second, drilling the ball a yard wide of the post. After enduring a sticky 10-minute spell, City recovered their composure following a trademark Christian Roberts spurt into opposition territory. Burrows somehow contrived to spoon a Roscoe free kick over the bar before redeeming himself with an exceptional challenge to deny Quakers substitute Kurt Jackson. And in the dying moments, Flack turned and fired goalwards only for Darlington defender Craig Liddle to paw the ball away with both hands. But there was no whistle, no point- ing to the spot and, at that stage of the game, no remaining hope of an Exeter victory. The draw keeps them fifth from bottom.
A Van Heusden, M Burrows, J Campbell, G Power, P Buckle, A Roscoe, L Zabek, K Ampadu, C Roberts, G Birch, S Flack.
Substitutes: R Hallam, S Epesse- Titi, M Rawlinson (for Birch, 73 minutes), J Mudge, A Inglethorpe.
P Keen, C Liddle, D Brightwell, A Reed, A Jeannin, P Brumwell, M Ford, G Naylor, S Harper, J Williams, C Marcelle.
Substitutes: M Convery, M Kilty, R Hodgson (Marcelle, 62), K Finch, K Jackson (Williams, 65).
Steve Flack (61) 1-0
Richard Hodgson (64) 1-1
Roberts, Power (Exeter), Jeannin (Darlington)
SHOTS ON TARGET:
Exeter 7, Darlington 1
Exeter 5, Darlington 5
Exeter 16, Darlington 15
REFEREE: Steve Tomlin