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🔢 City by number: No. 23

The latest City by number piece from the Port Vale programme.

15 April 2019

Coming away from a match with a draw can lead to a whole host of feelings.

For example, it can be satisfying to hold a good team to a draw, while being held by a team you see as worse than your own is very frustrating. A last minute equaliser in a fantastic comeback can feel like a win (just ask anyone who witnessed Rueben Reid netting in added time to drag City back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Yeovil) but dropping two points in the final seconds can sometimes feel as bad as losing all three.

In the 1986/87 season, City fans must have felt all of these feelings so many times as the Grecians drew a league record 23 times – a feat shared with Norwich City, Cardiff City and Hartlepool United. After finishing 21st and having to apply for re-election in the 1985/86 season, Exeter were looking for a more stable season as they headed into the summer of 1986.

A 1-0 victory over Leyton Orient courtesy of Dean Roberts’ goal began City’s season on a high before they got their first draw of the season away at Colchester United the following week.

Then, starting in mid-September with a 2-2 draw at Cambridge, the Grecians drew six games in a row, which included four 0-0 stalemates. That run was eventually ended by Mark Robson and Dean Roberts, who both scored in a 2-0 win against Lincoln.

City didn’t actually lose a league match that season until the November 1, when Preston North End won 2-1 against the Grecians at Deepdale. Shortly after that loss in Lancashire followed a rare run of five games without a draw, containing a 4-0 win and loss for City in the space of just four days – thrashing Aldershot (who were promoted by the end of the season) at home and being beaten at Northampton.

The Grecians then tied 2-2 twice in two days after Christmas at home to Torquay United on Boxing Day and away to Wolves the day after. The new year was very bleak for City as, in the final 26 games of the season, City won just four times, losing nine and drawing 13 times, as the Grecians consolidated 14th position.


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