Football: Keepers weather the Everton storm

Exeter City 0 Everton 0
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The Independent Online
"ATTENTION ALL shipping," Charlotte Green announced on Radio Four on Saturday morning, shortly after Home Truths and in advance of Loose Ends. "Plymouth, Lundy, gale force eight, heading north-westerly." Out to sea the wind was picking up and stormy weather was heading for the south coast. Towards Exeter, in fact.

While it was wet and windy around St James' Park, both in a meteorological and footballing sense, the really dark clouds had gathered elsewhere and, after a spirited cup tie, it was Exeter City who learnt the home truths and Everton who failed to tie up the loose ends. Although they are 17th in the Third Division, Exeter reminded themselves and their supporters that they have two outstanding goalkeepers while a sorry exhibition of non-finishing from the visitors revealed why Everton have not won a match since September.

They would have won on Saturday but for the Exeter City goalkeepers. Stuart Naylor, the 37-year-old former West Bromwich Albion and England B keeper, was persuaded out of retirement this summer and he performed imposingly in the first act. Although Everton had two goals disallowed within a minute for offside, Naylor retained his confidence to deny Kevin Campbell, Francis Jeffers and Mark Pembridge.

Naylor was concussed after a brave tackle on Campbell towards half-time, so in the second half it was enter Jason Matthews, who just three months ago was a full-time electrician. Two one-on-one saves from Barmby and a splendidly agile reflex block to turn Campbell's header against the post earned the self-effacing young man a reputation and his side a lucrative replay.

"As long as we don't go up there and get walloped I don't really care," Naylor remarked. In truth they would have suffered that fate on Saturday. But for Naylor and his deputy.

Exeter City (4-4-2): Naylor (Matthews, h-t); Power, Gittens, Dewhurst, Richardson; Breslan (Flack, 59), Curran, Buckle, Rees; Boylan (McConnell, 70), Alexander. Substitutes not used: Holloway, Speakman.

Everton (4-4-2): Gerrard; Unsworth, Weir, Dunne, Xavier; Collins, Hutchison, Pembridge (Moore,76), Barmby (Ball, 86); Jeffers, Campbell. Substitutes not used: Cleland, Grant, Simonsen (gk).

Referee: Steve Bennett (Orpington).

Bookings: Exeter: Power, Rees, Flack. Everton: Xavier.

Men of the match: Naylor and Matthews

Attendance: 6,045.