Match 30
26th December 1969
Newport County (h)



Exeter City 1 Newport County 1.

It had been an enjoyable Christmas, that is until Boxing Day afternoon. Then, a crowd just three hundred short of seven thousand had to endure 90 minutes of "professional football" that afterwards must have left them all wondering whether Christmas was a season of goodwill after all. Exeter City's drawn game with Newport was easily the worst seen on the St James's Park ground this season. It was feeble for the most part. Both teams were terrible, and the longer the game went on the worse it became. Initially there was a promise of good things to come, but they never materialised. Newport nearly went ahead from a well-taken free-kick in the opening minute and then Parker cut out a menacing low centre from Young. In Exeter's first attack Mitten was caught offside near the Newport goal-line. After about twenty minutes the game might as well have been stopped there and then for what little entertainment it provided. The first corner went to Newport following a hasty backwards pass by Crawford, but Parker headed the flag kick away. Then Balson dived full length to head clear a dangerous looking centre from White.


A promising move by Exeter which began with Wingate nodding the ball inside to Banks, who played it across the pitch, ended with a shot by Walker being saved by Weare close to the upright. Seconds later the Newport defence hooked away a low hard centre from Walker and then Wingate had the ball taken right off his foot when he was in a good position in front of the Newport posts. Up at the other end Blain ran himself into trouble and Derrick played the ball to Hill, whose shot bounced out of Shearing's arms. Luckily for the City there was no-one following up. After eleven minutes the City almost went ahead. Balson pushed the ball down the line to Mitten, who turned it across the front of the Newport goal, and Weare brought off a fine save from Wingate's header. Giles was unfairly brought down by Cooper, and Weare had to move very smartly to cut out Crawford's free kick.


Up came Parker in the 18th minute to put in a fine shot from ten yards which Weare only just managed to tip over the bar for a corner. At the other end Shearing showed good anticipation in jumping to hold Young's swerving centre. Two minutes later a good Exeter move put Banks in with a chance as he squeezed past two players, but his shot was deflected over the bar by the foot of a Newport defender. The corner was partly cleared and followed by a second one which led to a free kick for the Welshmen in their goalmouth. Walker put a shot into the side netting and from another corner Wingate nodded the ball across to Banks, whose effort went wide. 

County obviously came to St James's Park intent on getting a draw, and in this they succeeded through playing it hard and tight, but Exeter could ill afford to drop this point at home. In the opening quarter of an hour or so the City might have had two or three goals. After that, however, they could not put more than two passes together at any time, and created virtually nothing. Both defences made mistakes, and in the end Newport could even have won the match had they been better equipped in front of goal.


Perhaps because of the way they played Exeter were glad of a point in the end. Yet they had earlier failed to cash in against a very poor Newport defence, despite having most of the play. And so after the first twenty minutes the game just fell away, more and more. The passing was often atrocious, the shooting almost non existent, and it was just one scrappy affair for most of the time. Just before half-time Banks had to retire with a groin injury. He was replaced in the second half by John Wingate. The departure of Banks may have made, in fact probably did make, some difference. His injury was the legacy of being brought down in the Newport goal area in the 17th minute. It should have been a penalty without any doubt, but Mr. Washer, the Bristol referee, did not think so. Most people thought it was a very bad decision. Both sides scored in the opening ten minutes, Thomas first, for the visitors, and Gadston, a minute later, for Exeter City. Banks scored another goal after 12 minutes but was ruled offside.

Teams :
Exeter City:- Shearing; Crawford and Blain; Parker, Sharples, and Balson; Corr, Banks, Gadston, Mitten, and Walker.

Newport County: Weare; Cooper and Sprague; McLaughlin, Wood, and Hill; Mabbutt, Smith, Radford, Thomas, and White.

Subs: Wingate (Exeter City) and Derrick (Newport).


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