Signing for Exeter City really was Adam coming home. Once at Exeter Adam went on to enjoy similar levels of success as he had at his previous two clubs. His two goals on the final day of the season against Southport paved Exeter’s path to the Conference Play-Offs, with Adam appearing as a first half substitute at Wembley as Paul Tisdale’s team endured Play-Off Final misery against Morecambe.
Twelve months later, Exeter – and Adam – were back at Wembley against Cambridge. This time, Adam started, and this time, the Grecians won to end their exile from the Football League. Not content with two promotions in three seasons, Adam made it three in four as City made light work of League Two in 2008/09 – the Grecians clinching the second automatic promotion spot, thanks in part to his 10 goals. Adam by this time was undoubtedly playing some of the best football of his career and he played no small part in helping the club retain their League One status in 2009-10, scoring seven league goals before his season was curtailed at the end of March with a mystery stomach illness that tests would later reveal to be Bowel Cancer.
There were many great moments for Adam whilst playing for Exeter City. Here Pete Evans gives his Top 4 Adam Stansfield moments in the Exeter City v Bristol Rovers programme (21st Aug 2010):
Leed-ing The Way
The rest of my list consists of fantastic finishes and vital goals that helped make Stanno a hero to so many. But just as crucial to the cause of the club he loved so much was his unbelievable engine, his never-say-die attitude and the tireless running always evident whenever he pulled on the City shirt. These attributes were perfectly summed up in our 2-0 win over Leeds back in January. As he left the field on 89 minutes to an awesome roar Jimmy Giles, live on Radio Devon exclaimed: “Adam Stansfield – fantastic. He has earned his money today that is for sure. His mum will be very proud of him.” Well-said Jimmy.
As the Setanta cameras rolled into town for a Sunday evening kick off in January 2008 all the focus was on Jamie Mackie. 12 goals before the turn of the New Year made him hot property but as Mackie waited to depart it was his replacement who took centre stage with a memorable double to defeat Oxford. After just 29 minutes Stanno opened the scoring with a shot smashed low and hard into the corner before a glorious second just seven minutes later after Steve Basham sent him clear. Showing his usual electric turn of pace stanno flew into the box, shimmied past the keeper with unnerving composure before rolling the ball into an empty net. Jamie who?
Double Trouble For Southport
It seemed like City would blow it once again on the final day. A 0-0 draw at Stevenage the week before meant it all came down to a home game with Southport at The Park but as the match approached the 70 minute mark City were 1-0 down and heading to an abrupt end to their 2006/07 campaign. Until Stanno’s intervention. Knocking a bouncing ball into his path Adam hit a stunning left-foot half volley across the keeper and into the far corner on 68 minutes before two minutes later he struck again with a poacher’s goal from close range after Andy Taylor’s drive was too hot too handle.
Chaos At The Kassam
Just nine days later Oxford’s packed Kassam Stadium saw my favourite Stanno moment. A goal of real class and real importance from the substitute to turn the Semi Final Second Leg on its head as Exeter’s voyage to Wembley looked set to hit the rocks again. We were approaching the 70th minute when Rob Edwards, as composed as ever, pinged a beautiful cross-field pass from the centre circle towards Stanno on the right flank. Whilst the ball was travelling he began moving towards the box where he controlled it with his body, allowing him to cut inside Burgess. He then dropped his shoulder to go outside Gilchrist and make room to squeeze a superb right-footed shot low into the far corner from an angle. Utter delirium followed. City had come back yet again. It was a wonderful goal not just in its execution but also its immense importance. 50 minutes and a heart-stopping shoot-out later and Exeter were heading to Wembley for the first time in their history.