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10:58 26th September 2001

Exeter City v Rushden & Diamonds

 Hanlons Goal Exposes City
Exeter City 1  Rushden and Diamonds 1
Report By Noel Sliney (Western Morning News)Sean McCarthy's far-post header from a right wing cross by Christian Roberts, who was sent off late on, had looked to have provided caretaker manager John Cornforth with added kudos in his bid to earn the job on a permanent basis. The fact that City took a point owed much to an extraordinary change of mind by referee Paul Taylor with the game goaless.  Taylor clearly awarded a penalty following McConnell's 49th minute challenge on Andy Burgess, only to downgrade the punishment to a free-kick just outside the area after Exeter's players persuaded him to consult assistant referee David Dodd.Until McCarthy's goal seven minutes later Rushden had displayed greater impetus, but paid for their own profligacy and the misfortune of facing in-form goalkeeper Arjan Van Heusden. Cornforth made three changes to the side which capitulated to Darlington at the weekend.  Jamie Campbell and Barry McConnell were recalled to the defence at the expense of Alex Watson and Mark Burrows, while Kwame Ampadu replaced the released Dylan Kerr, with Chris Curran reverting to his more familiar central defence role.Rushden displayed the greater initiative from the kick-off with Exeter evidently more concerned with not conceding an early goal to add to their woeful goals against tally. Exeter goalkeeper Van Heusden was extended by a toe-poke from former Torquay forward Scott Partridge, and then reacted quicker than his defence to smother the ball at the feet of Jean-Michel Sigere.City gradually emerged from their slumber and Christian Roberts and Martin Barlow both struck long range shots just off target, before Roberts struck a ferocious shot from 15 yards which brought an equally impressive parry from stand in goalkeeper Tony Pennock. Pennock was also equal to Ampadu's 30 yard chip in one of the few moments that the game flirted with the notion of entertainment.The second half was far brighter.  McCarthy shot over the bar when it was easier to score his second goal, Rushden countered with a Barry Hunter shot headed off the line by Campbell. Simon Wornull then missed the ball altogether when presented with the simple task of converting a left wing cross, and Robert Duffy and Hunter both had venomous efforts saved by Van Heusden.Roberts was sent off for a second bookable offence four minutes from time after kicking the ball away, and City's continued ill-fortune was compounded by Hanlon's late, late strike.
    Data provided by Press Association