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10:54 19th September 2001

Exeter City v Plymouth Argyle

Martin Phillips returned to St James' Park to haunt his former club, as he scored one and made both the other Plymouth Argyle goals, in what was one of the most entertaining local derby matches between these two arch Devon rivals for many a year.

Yet City will be feeling thy should have buried their opponents in a first half which, apart from the opening few minutes, they dominated, with a display of commitment, passion and a will to win.

It all changed in the second half though as the Grecians never reproduced that same zestfulness and dropped far too deep allowing Argyle and Phillips in particular to capitalise.

Phillips it was who gleefully opened the scoring after just six minutes when he pounced on a Nicky Banger flick header to score from close range at the far post.

But as in the previous game against Oxford, this City side are always capable of scoring goals and that is just what they did.

For a minute later a Jamie Campbell free-kick on the right was deftly headed into the Argyle net by skipper Chris Curran

From then on until half-time it was all City and they deservedly went in front when Christian Roberts lashed the ball home fro man acute angle after a challenge from Geoff Breslan had seen the ball break to the Welshman.

Exeter played with real commitment, harrying and chasing Argyle into mistakes and no giving them time to settle.

Roberts was so unlucky not to score his second of the evening with a rasping shot that was superbly finger tipped for a corner by Romain Larrieu.

Them Martin Barlow came with inches of netting against his former club when his bouncing shot through a crowd of players smacked against the foot of the post.

City could easily have gone in at half-time three or four goals to the good, but they didn't and they were to rue that fact.

For some inexplicable reason the Grecians sat back too deep in the second half, especially after the substitution of Roberts for Mark Burrows, and as a result Argyle enjoyed long periods of possession, with Phillips looking dangerous every time he got the ball and sent over a string of pin point crosses which caused danger in the Exeter defence.

It was all square after 65 minutes when Mickey Evans nodded home a cross from Phillips, an equaliser they barely deserved having been so outplayed in the opening 45 minutes.

And although little was seen from City as an attacking force, apart from another superbly struck shot from Breslan which grazed the post, the game seemed destined to be heading for a draw.

But with the stoppage time just having started to be played, Phillips again turned the provider as Ian Stonebridge glanced home a header for the winning goal

Attendance: 5,756 (1,596 Argyle fans)
    Data provided by Press Association