4th December 2004
FA Cup 2nd Round
Doncaster R (h)
Moxey magic secures dream tie.
EXETER CITY 2 DONCASTER ROVERS I
HOMEGROWN hero Dean Moxey sent Exeter City into the third round of the FA Cup with a sensational 45-yard strike on Saturday and earn the Grecians a trip to his boyhood idols, Manchester United.
The 18-year-old came on as a 16th- minute substitute for the unfortunate Kwame Ampadu, who suffered a calf strain, and subsequently scored with a David Beckham-style lob which caught out Doncaster goalkeeper Andy Warrington and added to Steve Flack's first-half strike.
Greg Blundell had nerves jangling when he pulled one back for Donny with four minutes remaining, but Exeter's heroic defence held out to record a famous victory and a lucrative payday against the most prestigious club in football to boot. To get a result against the reigning Third Division champions, the Grecians had to turn in a performance as good as the one which saw off Grimsby Town in round one. What they gave was so much more. At times City rode their luck and, yes, Doncaster enjoyed the territorial advantage. But the Grecians wanted it more. There was a steely resolve, a determination and an organisation about them which was to provide the foundations for a famous Cup victory.
City made their intent clear from the start and went for the jugular. Caught by surprise, Donny were on the back foot from the first whistle and Sean Devine tried his luck from an acute angle only to see the ball flash across the face of goal and wide. The South Yorkshire side responded and Martin Rice made the first of several good stops when he saved from Dave Morley, Exeter were back on the attack soon afterwards, though, and it Devine again tested Warrington, but his shot was well saved. Despite the two-league difference, there was little to choose between the two sides. However, the Grecians rode their luck when Michael McIndoe's cross was headed against the bar by Blundell and appeared to cross the line. The linesman's flag stayed down, and who were we to argue? Blundell went close again for Don- caster before the Grecians were some- what fortunate to be awarded a free-kick wide on the right when Flack was deemed to have been pushed. Alex Jeannin swung the ball in and the veteran striker got in ahead of Warrington to firmly plant the ball into the back of the net. A typical Flack goal and the customary aeroplane celebration, clenched first and a strained 'come on' to the Doble Stand regulars, showed what it meant to him and his team-mates. This was a lead City were in no mood to surrender. And they didn't. Rice was again down well to deny Paul Green's effort from the edge of the penalty box before City survived scare number two when Blundell inexplicably missed from six yards. Again, McIndoe was the architect, picking the lively striker out with a pinpoint delivery, but despite doing everything by the textbook Blundell's header bounced down and over Rice's crossbar. City came close to doubling their lead on the stroke of half-time when Flack's header looped over Warrington, but Morley managed to hack the ball off the goal line. Straight from the re-start, Blundell tried his luck from halfway, but Rice was alert and close enough to his goal -to tip the ball over for a corner. However, Moxey showed him the way to do it minutes later. Pointing to Jeannin to get wide on the overlap, the City youth product created himself a yard of space. It was all he needed. Spotting Warrington off his line, Moxey delivered the kind of chip Tiger Woods would have been proud of to pick out the top corner and send an already happy St James' Park into delirium. Not content with a two-goal lead, City piled forward. Devine brought an outstanding save from Warrington as he too tried a cheeky chip from distance and Les Afful was denied his first of the season when, with only the 'keeper to beat, he shot straight against his legs. With nothing to lose, Doncaster went for broke. Former Grecian James Coppinger came on and formed part of a five-man front-line, but with Santos Gaia outstanding and Gary Sawyer defying his tender years with a display of great maturity they struggled to create much. When they did, Guy Ipoua sent a header from a Coppinger cross against the woodwork and the former Exeter man showed his discontent with a petulant kick at the awesome and all-action Danny Clay.
Finally, City's brave resistance was breached when Blundell swivelled and shot on the turn from 18 yards and found the bottom corner. Doncaster poured forward in search of an equaliser, but City defended as though their lives depended on it. Clay heroically throwing himself in front of Green when he had the goal at his mercy merely epitomised City's gallantry, but he was not alone. Eventually, after what seemed an eternity of injury time, the final whistle sounded amid euphoric scenes on the terraces, in the stands and on the pitch
Good times have been largely over- shadowed by the bad at St James' Park, so this was a moment everyone was going to enjoy. And this morning, Grecians across the land will be waking up, rubbing their eyes and wondering if the events of Saturday and yesterday's subsequent draw were just a dream. Well, let me tell you they're not. Ladies and gentleman, the next port of call in this memorable Cup adventure will indeed be Old Trafford. Manchester United lie in wait.