5 May 2001
Lincoln C (h)
Exeter City 0-0 Lincoln City
A GAME which neither side had to win predictably ended in a goalless draw in a scrappy finale to Exeter's season. There were chances at both ends, but neither side seemed too concerned about finding the net after a frantic last few weeks. Exeter received a hero's welcome from a crowd of almost 5,000 after ensuring Football League survival with victory at Scunthorpe last week. Only a few weeks ago it looked like this game would be a tense relegation dogfight. But with both teams already safe and nothing to play for, it more closely resembled a kick around in the park rather than a competitive league game. Despite that, Exeter started brightly and could have gone ahead in the first minute. Andy Roscoe broke well on the left and fired in a dangerous cross which was scrambled away in front of goal. Paul Buckle then struck a 35-yard free kick at the goalkeeper. At the other end rookie glovesman Stu- art Fraser was called into action to deal with Lee Thorpe's mis directed cross. Skipper Jamie Campbell, who picked up the player of the year award before kick-off, headed Buckle's corner into the arms of the goalkeeper. The best moment of the opening exchanges came when Christian Roberts found Gary Birch with a long ball and the young striker struck a shot inches over the bar from 35-yards after spotting the goalkeeper off his line. Lincoln looked like they were preparing for the summer break rather than focusing on the game in hand. But Richard Peacock at least showed some intent with a shot just past the post from the edge of the box. John Finnigan also went close for the visitors with a shot past the post from 20-yards. Exeter boss Noel Blake had decided to give top scorer Steve Flack a rest and gave youngsters Birch and Damien Spencer the chance to shine. His faith in the lively Birch was almost repaid on the stroke of half time. The youngster rose well to meet Buckle's cross but he headed the ball just wide.
Exeter came close to breaking the deadlock four minutes after the restart. Buckle drilled in a low cross from the edge of the box which Lincoln goalkeeper Alan Marriot did well to hold onto. Roberts showed why he has sparkled more than any other City player this season, when he launched a characteristic run which took him into the box, but he shot just wide. Kwame Ampadu came close to putting the Grecians in front when he connected well with a Roberts cross but sliced his volley wide. Blake, who had demanded all three points from his players before the game, brought on Flack to try and force a late victory. But it just wasn't to be. Flack almost hit the winner in the dying
minutes after a goalmouth scramble. He stabbed the ball towards goal only to see the chance hooked off the line Despite plenty of effort, Exeter had to be content with a draw.
Fraser, Power, Campbell, Burrows, Roscoe, Buckle, Ampadu, Epesse-Titi., Roberts, Spencer. Substitutes: Flack (Roscoe, 58), Tomlinson (Ampadu, 63), Zabek, (Birch, 72). Not used: Van Heusden, Breslan.
Marriot, Mayo (Bimson, 74), Holmes, Welsh, Finnigan, Thorpe, Gain (Miller, 88), Peacock, Bat- tersby, Perkins (Barnett, 66), Walker. Subs not used: Greenwood, Sedgemore.
Referee: Graham Poll (Tring, Herts)
Star Man: Christian Roberts- another pow- erful performance on flank