PROBLEMS FOR BLAKE AS CITY GO DOWN AT DALE
by Suzanne Gledard, for The Western Morning News
Exeter City and Rochdale moved to opposite ends of Division Three after Noel Blake¹s side failed to make much improvement on their abject defeat to Scunthorpe two days earlier.
Gary Jones 27th minute penalty and a Kevin Townson strike two minutes later dumped the Grecians to the bottom of the table.
Blake made five changes from the side he accused of lacking commitment against Scunthorpe. The personnel may have changed, but the performance still lacked quality.
Dale had two goals disallowed in the first half and goalkeeper Arjan Van Heusden spared his side further blushes with two superb saves after the break.
But he had to make up for his earlier mistake which led to Rochdale's first goal. Dave Bayliss launched a long ball to Clive Platt, who took it inside the area and nudged it past the onrushing Van Heusden, who then caught the striker's legs. Gary Jones drilled his penalty kick past the keeper¹s outstretched left hand.
The home side added a second goal two minutes later when a defensive mix up resultd in the ball rebounding off Martin Barlow and into the path of the lively Townson.
Blake brought on Barry McConnell for Gross and the visitors weathered the remainder of the half.
Van Heusden enjoyed a quieter second half but was solid when needed. Andy Roscoe and Gary Birch came closest to opening Exeter's account with keeper Matthew Gilkes blocking Roscoe's initial effort with his legs before Birch hit the crossbar from the rebound.
But City, for all their endeavour, rarely gave the impression they will do anything but struggle this season.