Match 50
24 April 1999
Rochdale (h)

Exeter City 2 Rochdale 1.

Report by Ross Reid 

Saturday 24 April 1999

EXETER City's Chris Fry scored a superb 75th minute winner to give the Grecians a deserved victory over dull Dale at St James' Park. City had gone ahead in first half injury time through man-of-the- match Chris Curran but Rochdale scored from their only on-target effort in the 65th minute. If the visitors had gone on to win it would have been a travesty of justice, but Exeter succeeded with a good all-round team performance in which the defence and midfield excelled at stages during the game. City started brightly and when Steve Flack was fouled in the seventh minute, recalled Welsh under-21 midfielder Chris Hol- loway dinked a quick free- kick over the Dale back line and just too far ahead of Barry McConnell. He beat the offside trap and visiting keeper Neil Edwards to the ball, which rolled agonisingly away from the City striker as he tried turning it back across goal. Five minutes later Fry turned a full circle to beat marker Andy Farrell before teeing up left back Graeme Power in front of the Cowshed. Power lived up to his name by letting fly with a 25-yarder which smashed off the foot of the far post with Edwards unable to react and only able to watch as the ball crashed back into play. In the 17th minute Fry set up Holloway, whose grass cutter from just outside the box spun away from goal. The visitors' sole early first half effort fell to Farrell in the 20th minute. His hopeful shot from 30 yards. spun away high and wide into the big bank and gave rookie keeper Danny Potter, making his home League debut, no problem. Two minutes later Edwards did well to rush out and clear the ball from Fry after an incisive through ball from Flack. Throughout Flack needed two visiting defenders to mark him and he proved to be much more of a threat than the visitors' tall target man, Andy Morris, who was well marshalled by Curran and Jon Gittens, his fellow centre half. Gittens, on this form, will be one of the favourites for player-of-the-year. Gareth Stoker shot wide after the ball was played square along the outside of the Exeter box and Jason Peake fired a free-kick into the wall before Gittens cleared the danger as Dale made a late bid with first half time running out. At the other end Geoff Breslan and Holloway lurked as Edwards saved well from Fry's cross from the right. But the danger was not over for Dale. Flack won the ball in the air again and it needed a desperate clearance from Jason Lydiate to sweep the ball off McConnell's foot as he prepared to shoot. Fry's corner - Exeter's sixth of the half - bobbled around in the area and when it was only half cleared it dropped to Curran, who smashed it in with glee from 16 yards for his second goal in two home victories. As the second half started City had a good shout for a penalty following McConnell's tricky work on the far right. An overhead kick by Flack fell to Breslan, who looked to be fouled by Farrell as the youngster shot over. Paul Carden earned a booking for his foul on Curran a minute later and it needed a Mark Monington clearance off the line to deny Flack, following Jason Rees' hooked cross, af- ter the header looped over Sullivan. In the 65th minute Carden sent the ball out to half time substitute Michael Holt and his left -oot drive beat Potter at the near post even though the keeper managed to get a glove on the ball. City immediately responded with a barrage of attacks. Ten minutes after Dale levelled. Breslan found Fry and the ball sat up invitingly for the City player to let fly with a half volley which went in off the far post for Fry's second goal of the season. Power, Gittens and Curran made some superb tackles, as did skipper Jon Richardson, as the back four excelled to earn City a merited success.

Exeter City 
Substitutes: Rowbotham (for Fry, 82 mins). Subs not used: Gale, Gardner.

Bayliss (Barlow, 46),
Stoker (Holt,46),
Sub, not used: Hicks.

Exeter Curran, 45 mins, Fry, 75; Rochdale - Carden, 61 mins.

Exeter Flack, 71 mins;
Rochdale - Carden, 61 mins 

Referee: Ray Olivier (Sutton Coldfield)

Attendance: 2.543.



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