9th January 1956
FA Cup 3rd Round Replay
Stoke City v Exeter City
STOKE REACH ROUND 4 OF THE CUP.
ISSUE CLINCHED IN SECOND HALF: ALL ROUND STRENGTH TELLS.
MONDAY JANUARY 9TH:
STOKE 3 (OSCROFT BOWYER COLEMAN) EXETER 0.
Long before the final whistle in today's F.A.Cup replay at Stoke, the only people who did not concede that they were defeated were those 11 members of the Exeter City team. There were few signs in this match of the form which earned replay a and Exeter were always struggling after the first half hour. But they never capitulated, and in the last five minutes they produced one of their best attacking spells of the game, with first Burke, then Rees going very near to obtaining a consolation goal.
Each side made one change from Saturday's teams. John was preferred to Buckle on the grounds that his more robust type of play would stand the City in better spead than the artistic touches of Buckle. And on returning to the Potteries from Exeter early on Sunday morning the Stoke player Frank Mountford, who had a tear in his right leg, taken to the City General Hospital. He was off the field for 15 minutes on Saturday while the wound was stitched and he played through half the match or more with a protective was bandage round his leg. His position in the replay was filled by John Whiston, a 26 year old local player who signed for Stoke in 1949, but so far has seen very little first-team service. The wintry conditions were evident from the traces of snow lying about on the pitch, which was hard and promised problems in trying to control a lively ball. The cold kept the attendance down, and there were only a few thousand spectators shortly before the start, although more were arriving all the time. Stoke City's supporters gave a warm welcome to Brian Doyle, the right back, who was formerly with the Potteries club. The Grecians brought a small but enthusiastic following, most having travelled up from Devon on the overnight train from St David's. With both sides floundering on the frozen surface Exeter managed at least to hold their own for the first 30 minutes. They began to get to the bounce of the ball, and a number of alarms resulted in the Stoke goalmouth. During this spell a great save by Robertson kept out a swinging drive by John. However, there was to be no story-book ending to this cup-tie, because gradually the trend of play began to follow the lines laid down in the form book as shortly before the interval Stoke clicked into gear.
TIGHTENED THEIR HOLD IN MID-FIELD.
Eventually Stoke's persistence was rewarded with a goal in 38 minutes. When Coleman crossed a short, sharp centre in front of the City goal Oscroft, who had moved in from the other wing, leapt up in a flash and as Hunter moved to the ball the outside-left headed it away from him and into the net. In the second half Sellars and Cairns gradually tightened their hold in mid-field until Exeter no longer existed as a united attacking force. As Stoke's superior football craft began to tell and the toiling City defence showed signs of wilting, it became just a matter of how long it would take the home team to make their lead a decisive one. Fine work by Hunter and some glaring lapses by the Stoke forwards were the reasons why the second goal was delayed until the 70th minute, but then Bowyer slammed his shot out of Hunter's reach from the edge of the penalty area. Coleman's goal eleven minutes later barely underlined the ascendancy which Stoke had long before attained. With the Potters easing off Exeter were more prominent in the last five minutes than at any time during the second half.
Stoke City thus qualified to visit either Luton Town or Leicester City in the fourth round. They owed their victory largely to the effective ness of their play in the second half, in which their all round skill and strength told against the Third Division side.