Exeter City 4 Stafford Rangers 1

Tuesday 22nd April 2008
Exeter City 4 Stafford Rangers 1
Blue Square Premier
At: St James' Park
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 4079
Weather: sunny
Duration: first half 46:26; second half: 47:53

On the original fixture list, this game was scheduled for Saturday 26th April and perfect for a weekend down in Devon. However, to accommodate the end-of-season promotion play-offs, this game was brought forward four days to this Tuesday night date with Stafford's final home game against Droylsden brought forward seven days to this Saturday with a 5-15 pm kick-off.

I travelled down on the coach and we stopped for a pre-match meal at a nice country restaurant at Willand close to Digger Land before continuing down the M5 to Exeter.

St James’ Park is one of those large old Football League stadiums it has been a pleasure to visit during Stafford’s two-year stint in the Blue Square Premier.

Despite being condemned to relegation a couple of weeks ago, Stafford (in 24th and bottom position with 22 points from 44 games) still had pride to play for and a real possibility of finishing in 23rd position to avoid the wooden spoon. They went into this game one point behind second-from-bottom Droylsden who were at home to Woking.

At the other end of the table, promotion was very much on the minds of Exeter City (5th position with 79 points from 44 games) who knew that a win over Stafford and anything less than a win for sixth-placed Stevenage Borough would guarantee a play-off spot .

Injuries and suspensions provided manager Steve Bull MBE with a selection conundrum and he was forced to make four changes to the side that started last Saturday’s against Crawley. Missing completely from the squad were Richie Sutton, Samy Mawene and suspended Ross Draper while Tom Ingram dropped to the bench. Back into the side came skipper Wayne Daniel who had recovered from the calf strain that had kept him on the bench against Crawley. For Daniel it was his 299th Stafford appearance, one short of a magnificent milestone.

Exeter took the lead with just 23 seconds on the clock. Moxey, on the left wide of the area, fired a low shot which Danny Alcock couldn't prevent crossing the line. But Rangers quickly got forward and Kevin Street fired against the home bar from 25 yards out. Nick Wellecomme also headed straight at Paul Jones but, in any case, was flagged offside.

The Grecians doubled their advantage in the 34th minute. Matt Gill and Adam Stansfield combined down the right with the latter crossing low into the area for Moxey to fire home from six yards out.

Just before the interval, Alan Dodd was forced to the sidelines with what looked like a facial injury and was replaced in the second half by Tom Ingram.

Just 134 seconds of the second half had elapsed when Moxey struck again. The midfielder fired an unstoppable volley across the face of goal into the bottom-right corner. Moments later, Alcock produced a remarkable flying save to keep out Matt Taylor's goalbound header.

Substitute Ben Watson scored his side's fourth goal barely a couple of minutes after replacing Stansfield. He latched onto a throughball and slotted past Alcock.

Rangers netted a consolation in the first minute of stoppage time. Reid picked up Street's throw and sent an unstoppable 35-yard left-foot drive screaming into the top-left corner, giving Paul Jones no chance at all.

Exeter City (red and white stripes / black / black): 27. Paul Jones, 2. Steve Tully, 16. Matthew Taylor, 5. Daniel Seabourne, 3. George Friend, 28. Ryan Harley, 4. Matt Gill, 15. Rob Edwards, 21. Dean Moxey, 9. Adam Stansfield, 20. Richard Logan. Subs: 32. Ben Watson (for Stansfield, 53), 10. Wayne Carlisle (for Seabourne, 61), 22. Liam Sercombe (for Gill, 74), 14. Bertrand Cozic, 1. Andy Marriott (gk)

Stafford Rangers (blue / white / blue): 1. Danny Alcock, 24. Steve Hopkinson, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 18. Alan Dodd, 44. Jon Loukes, 38. Alex Gibson, 8. Kevin Street, 7. Chris Flynn, 30. Ishmale Reid, 9. Neil Grayson, 42. Nick Wellecomme. Subs: 16. Tom Ingram (for Dodd, ht), 6. Djoumin Sangare, 20. Marco Adaggio, 33. Danny Allen (gk), 35. Damion Jarrett

Referee: A. Sainsbury (Wiltshire)

1-0 Moxey (1)
2-0 Moxey (34)
3-0 Moxey (47)
4-0 Watson (54)
4-1 Reid (90+1)

This match report was originally written for and published on the now defunct www.staffordrangers.co.uk