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16:56 10th October 2009


Town banished any thoughts of their recent winless run with a comprehensive and impressive victory over newly-promoted Exeter.

Jordan Rhodes (pictured) was the hero, netting a hat-trick of headed strikes within eight minutes to settle the tie after Lee Novak netted the opening goal of the game in the first-half, but Town's overall team performance was as impressive as they were during the opening games of the campaign.

New strike pairing Novak and Rhodes pressed the away defence hurriedly in the early stages and the Terriers created the first effort on target within the first 4 minutes. A clever pass inside a defender from Collins found Kay in space and his powerful effort from 23 yards out was turned over the bar in spectacular style by 'keeper Jansson.

From Pilkington's right wing corner, Williams rose highest at the back post to head towards goal, but a defender was well positioned on the line to clear the ball to safety.

Novak's run down the right was then brilliantly picked out by Peltier four minutes later and the striker found Roberts inside the area with a clever reverse pass, but the winger tried to switch onto his favoured left foot and the chance to shoot quickly vanished.

The same pairing combined again in the 11th minute and although Roberts got a shot away, it was well blocked by defender Taylor.

At the other end, both Clarkes made brilliant diving blocks to deny striker Fleetwood and winger Dunne clear shots at goal inside the Town area.

GOAL - Town took the lead just into the 17th minute, with Lee Novak netting his first goal for the Club in open play. Gary Roberts seized upon a loose pass out of defence from Exeter before releasing Michael Collins, who had made a typical burst from midfield; without looking, he squared the ball across the area to the striker, who showed supreme confidence to slot the ball into the far corner without taking a touch.

The Terriers went close to adding a second just four minute after the opener, but were denied by the width of the post. Novak was again released down the right courtesy of a ball over the top from Kay and he picked out Rhodes perfectly with a near post cross. Unfortunately for Town, his glancing header hit the far post with the goalkeeper beaten and drifted to safety.

Exeter created a half chance in the 26th minute when midfielder Russell picked out Fleetwood with a good pass, but his shot on the turn from 24 yards drifted way over the crossbar of Alex Smithies.

It looked like Town had been awarded a 29th minute penalty after Rhodes latched onto a quickly taken long throw from Nathan Clarke down the right flank before being bundled over by defender Edwards, but the referee deemed that the offence had taken place inches outside the penalty box. Nothing came from Gary Roberts' resulting free-kick.

Roberts did better with a 32nd minute corner from the right side - sending a dangerous ball into Exeter's six yard box - but Peter Clarke put a header just wide of Jansson's right-hand post.

'Robbo' showed why he was awarded the Player of the Year trophy at Town in his debut season again soon afterwards, riding two challenges impressively down the left before pulling the ball back for Novak. Unfortunately, he stabbed a shot over with the outside of his right boot when under heavy pressure from a defender.

Town were having some success from corners and a Pilkington delivery from the left in the 42nd minute was nodded back across goal by Kay, but Nathan Clarke couldn't generate enough power with his headed effort to truly trouble the 'keeper.

GOAL - Town scored a deserved second goal in the 44th minute when Jordan Rhodes notched his 9th goal of the campaign. Williams found Pilkington with a throw-in down the left side, who promptly turned the full-back before crossing; the ball hit the defender and looped to the near post, where Rhodes had darted in front of his marker to send a bullet header low to the goalkeeper's right side.

BOOKING - Lee Peltier was booked for the first time this season in the final minute of the half for an over-the-top tackle on winger Noone.


Another piece of lackadaisical passing from an Exeter defender gave Town an opportunity to score a third just three minutes into the second half. Edwards' loose ball was intercepted by Rhodes, who played a first time pass to Pilkington down the right; his low cross found Novak in the box, but he had strayed offside in the area.

GOAL - On the stroke of the 49th minute Jordan Rhodes netted his 10th goal of the season. A flowing move down the right side saw the ball end up with the ever-dangerous Pilkington - he switched onto his left before whipping a dangerous cross towards the near post where Rhodes guided the ball past the stricken goalkeeper with a deft header.

GOAL - Jordan Rhodes then completed a fantastic headed hat-trick with his 11th of the season in the 52nd minute. More impressive Town play down the right resulted in a corner, which was taken by Gary Roberts - his delivery curled towards the near post where Rhodes charged in and thumped a header past the helpless custodian. It had taken Rhodes just eight minutes to score his trio of goals.

Exeter had their best chance of the game to date in the 63rd minute when winger Noone cut inside Nathan Clarke, but his right-footed shot

SUB - Exeter introduced Bertrand Cozic, Barry Corr and Adam Stansfield to the game in the 63rd minute to try and change the game; they replaced Fleetwood, Stewart and Harley.

SUB - Lee Clark made a double change himself a minute later, with Lionel Ainsworth and Theo Robinson replacing Gary Roberts and the outstanding Rhodes.

Substitute Theo had the ball in the back of the net just four minutes later after sitting the goalkeeper down and lifting the ball over him, but he was clearly offside when he received the through-ball from Lee Novak.

The excellent Pilkington was causing full-back Duffy all sorts of problems down the Town left and after beating the defender in the 69th minute, he got caught in two minds as to whether he should shoot or cross and only succeeded in lifting the ball over the bar.

Peter Clarke then stayed up from an attacking corner and forced Jansson to turn his looping header over the bar before Robinson nodded Pilks' excellent back-post cross over.

The lively sub then picked up the ball from Collins inside the area and forced Jansson into a good low save with his legs.

Novak and Ainsworth then exchanged a quick one-two down the right, with the striker nodding the winger's cross inches wide of the 'keeper's left-hand post.

Nathan Clarke then powered a header over at the near post from an Ainsworth corner in the 81st minute.

Ainsworth had his own chance to score in the 84th minute when Robinson sent him racing through on goal but after his electric pace saw him hopelessly outstrip the defenders, he sent a curling shot wide of the near post with only the goalkeeper to beat.

SUB - Michael Collins was then replaced by Danny Drinkwater in the final substitution of the game.

Drinkwater sent a skidding low shot wide from 25 yards in the final minute of the game.

In added time Pilkington tormented Duffy again before cutting inside and firing a deflected low drive towards goal that the 'keeper did excellently to turn over the bar.


Town's Team (4-4-2):

Alex Smithies; Robbie Williams, Nathan Clarke, Peter Clarke, Lee Peltier; Gary Roberts (Lionel Ainsworth 64), Michael Collins (Danny Drinkwater 84), Antony Kay, Anthony Pilkington; Lee Novak, Jordan Rhodes (Theo Robinson 64)

Unused Substitutes: Matt Glennon, Robbie Simpson, Jim Goodwin, Andy Butler

Town Booking: Lee Peltier (45)

Gate: 13,438

Visitors: 374

    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.