Match 13
7th October 1989
Peterborough United (a)


Peterborough 4 Exeter City 3
Barclays Division Four

EXETER CITY squandered a cracking chance to stay fourth in Division 4 by throwing away the points at Peterborough on Saturday in an amazing game of fluctuating fortunes, two own goals, a dodgy penalty and a last gasp decider. They had done remarkably well to fight back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 but with 16 minutes left, their concentration wavered and the home side seized a victory they hardly deserved. The winner came three minutes from time and left manager Terry Cooper fum- ing

"I can't believe we've lost it. When we went 3-2 up 1 thought we were going to score five or six. We were all over them and the big three at the back-Clive Whitehead, Jim McNichol and Shaun Taylor - were gobbling everything up. We had it won but a lack of professionalism has cost us," he complained.

Cooper laid the blame for Peterborough's last two goals at the feet of Paul Batty and Scott Hiley for failing to clear their lines when they had the chence, allowing Worrell Sterling and Milton Graham to strike. In truth Peterborough were gifted all four goals, the first coming in controversial circumstances in the third minute when Chesterfield referee Alan Bennett surprised the entire London Road stadium, um, players and spectators from both sides alike, by awarding a penalty against Shaun Taylor for tugging at the shirt of Carl Richards.

"I never touched him," Taylor maintained afterwards but that didn't change the out- come. Former City midfielder Dave Harle, playing his first game of the season after a cartilage operation, sent Dave Walter the wrong way from the spot and it was 1-0.

That was enough of a body blow but in the 28th minute came a second that would have finished a lesser team. Jim McNichol, who had been denied a ninth minute equaliser by his former Torquay team-mate Paul Crichton, was the unfortunate culprit. He was a victim of the conditions brought on by persistent heavy rain. As he guided a back pass to Walter, the "keeper slipped on the greasy surface, the ball sneaked past him and crept agonisingly into the net. Peterborough had admittedly been the more constructive early on but they certainly didn't warrant a two-goal lead. City fought back well as they gradually adapted to the changes in personnel and positions. They again operated with a sweeper system. Whitehead fulfilling the spare man role with the consummate ease you would expect from a man of his experience.

McNichol was in for the suspended Lee Rogers and Batty was called up in midfield for his first senior game in 10 months at the scene of his last league appearance. Once they had all settled into the pattern and come to terms with the task at hand, there was only one team in it for lengthy periods. City dominated for a 10 minute spell up to half time when Crichton was forced to save from MeNichol and Steve Neville and Richard Young headed against the post before the deserved goal came on 42 minutes. Hiley overlapped on the right and sent in a low cross that Peterborough's £100,000 defender Dave Robinson, their record buy from Halifax, met with a superb diving header into his own net.

There was no respite for the home side in the second half. City attacked patiently, persistently and the inevitable equaliser was a gem worth waiting for. It came from the golden right boot of Danny Bailey in the 58th minute. Whitehead rolled a free kick to him and from 25 yards Bailey sent the ball searing into the roof of the net for his first ever League goal. In the 67th minute City's re- markable fightback brought them a third goal, courtesy of a bad back pass from Mick Halsall that put Darran Rowbotham clean through and he confidently beat Crichton for his ninth goal of the season. Rowbotham could have wrapped it up for his side within a minute when another defensive error let him in with an empty net yawning before him but the angle was too narrow and he delayed too long until the chance disappeared. His hesitation proved costly as Peterborough levelled the scores in the 74th minute. Batty failed to find safety, the ball was worked out to Halsall on the left and his cross was met by Sterling who got the run on Chris Vinnicombe to send a powerful header into the stanchion, giving Walter no chance. Then in an amazing climax, Peterborough snatched an improbable winner. A Noel Luke cross went under Hiley's foot, allowing Halsall to tee up a shot for substitute Milton Graham who smashed the ball past the unsighted Walter from 20 yards.

It was a great afternoon's entertainment for Peterborough fans and any neutrals in the ground, but not one City will remember with much fondness.

Peterborough United:
Crichton Luke, Crosby, Halsall, Robinson, Oskes, Sterling, Culpin, Richards (Longhurst 631. Harle (Graham 70) Butterworth.

Exeter City:
Walter, Hiley, Vinni combe, Rogers, Taylor, Whitehead, Rowbotham. Bailey. Young, Neville, Batty (Cooper [13] Sub (not used) McDermott

Harle (pen) 3, McNicol (OG) 28, Robinson (OG) 42, Bailey 58, Rowbotham 67, Sterling 74, Graham 87.




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