10th January 1981
Exeter City v Walsall
Exeter City 0
(L. Roberts (og), Hart, Buckley)
Report by Gordon Hines
WALSALL not only borrowed a set of Exeter City red socks yesterday, they also had the temerity to walk out of St James' Park with both points. In fairness, they deserved their win though not quite so emphatically, against an Exeter side that broke every rule in the footballing book. Yet it was with a touch of irony that the Sadlers should approach City before the start of the match, pleading for freshly coloured socks. They had intended wearing black ones with their blue shirts and white shorts, until it was discovered that Exeter would' sport the same colour. Buckley was entitled to look, and feel very pleased with life after his Midland side had broken a sequence of 11 games without a win. Exeter, on the other hand, were left with the dubious flavour of having tasted their first defeat following a run of ten unbeaten games in the League and FA Cup. Walsall led 1-0 at the interval after a defensive calamity when City's Lee Roberts, Martyn Rogers and goalkeeper Len Bond all converged on the edge of City's penalty area. Walsall's Richard O'Kelly also made a chal- lenge for a difficult bounce, and the verdict in the Press box afterwards tended to give O'Kelly the benefit of the doubt as a foot stuck out and the ball was helped into the net on the first bounce. In fact, it was a Lee Roberts own goal, even though O'Kelly tried, rather convincingly I might add, to claim it was his. Walsall's approach to the game changed from that moment. Ravaged by injuries and forced to play their coach Colin Harrison at left back, they came expecting a roasting.
Instead, they were prepared to die for their cause and every Exeter attempt to get back into the game was thwarted by brave defence and outstretched legs. Exeter poured men forward from all angles. But their tactics rebounded in the 69th minute, when Walsall broke quickly out of defence and scored a second. Buckley sent Paul Waddington away on the left and Waddington's pass was struck firmly by midfielder Peter Hart, across Bond into the corner of the net. Walsall went three up three minutes later. This time, Buckley turned on a five-pence piece and scored a typical opportunist goal from Wadding- ton's cross. Exeter, meantime, struggled to create chances. Walsall 'keeper Ron Green made a crucial save from skipper John Delve but otherwise had a relatively easy afternoon in the face of Exeter's dismal approach work and even worse finishing.
Bond,Rogers, M.Hatch,Forbes, Roberts L.
Roberts, P. ,Pearson, Rogers, P. ,Kellow Delve, Pullar
Referee A. Gunn (Burgess Hill).