Match 13
4th October 1975
Rochdale (a)

And in the Western League
Exmouth Town (home)

Bowker goal puts Exeter back in a winning vein.

Match Report by Gordon Hines 

EXETER CITY, with only one point from their previous five games, are back in business.

Strengthened, without a shadow of doubt, by former Plymouth Argyle defender Bobby Saxton, they handed out a lesson to Rochdale that deserved more than just Keith Bowker's solitary goal.

In short, City looked a class above them, and the dramatic sending off of Peter Hatch a minute from time for a slip of the tongue, did nothing to hide their obvious delight in beating a team that hadn't lost at home since March. Hatch had been booked a little earlier for time wasting by Leicester referee Jeffrey Sewell when he complained about the decision hat had been rüled against oal-keeper Richard Key.

Play was held up as Mr. Sewell seemed to beckon to Key, but, suddenly, there was the forlorn-looking Hatch trooping towards the dressing-room, out of next matcht Saturday's match at Darlington and almost certain to face a fine by manager John Newman. It was a sensational climax to a game that Exeter controlled for 70 of the 90 minutes. Not for a long time has their defence looked so completely in command or at ease.

And not for a long while has the midfield looked so composed and sure of itself with skipper Lammie Robertson an inspiration to everyone for the way he disguised a hip injury that threatened his chances of playing right up until the kick-off.

Robertson manipulated the strings in mid-field while John Wingate was another to catch the eye. He has been a target for recent criticism, and openly admitted during the week that he was bitter at being left out of the side to make way for Saxton. Yesterday, however, Wingate was recalled together with Nicky Jennings and under instructions to keep check on Rochdale's Tony Whelan along the left. He carried out the job job to to the last detail. It was Wingate's hold on Whelan that kept Rochdale confused and provided Exeter with a foundation on which to send Rochdale every way except the right one.

This was no pinch-a-goal and defend at all costs tactic. For City tore into Rochdale from the start and should have been a goal ahead before Bowker did in fact, locate the net. Put through by Alan Beer, Bowker set himself up for a shot at goal but, not the first time in recent matches, pulled the trigger too late and goalkeeper Mike Poole dashed from his line to smother the ball. There was a follow-up chance as Beer moved in for the rebound, but he also failed to score. That was typical of the opportunities City have been missing in previous games this season, and for the next 13 minutes it looked again as though they would pay the consequences. But Beer and Bowker had other ideas in a 27th-minute break that started ju just 11-side the Rochdale half when Beer exchanged passes with Bowker.

The irrepressible Beer, galloping down the left, did remarkably well in controlling Bowker's forward pass, and from then on there was no doubt the move would produce a goal. Beer slipped the goalkeeper and and as Poole raced to the edge of the penalty area, hit a square pass for Bowker to rifle home from 12 yards.

Beer, always a thorn in Rochdale's side, had a gift chance himself a minute be- fore half time when centre half Bill Summerscales' careless clearance landed at his feet. Typically, he lashed out and lifted the ball high over the bar from six yards when just a little bit of composure would surely have put the result beyond doubt. Missed chances continued to blight City's confident approach work after the interval. They were numer- ous, with none more simpler than that following another Beer break that saw the ball roll out to Jennings off Poole's chest. Jennings took aim, but chipped the ball wide with the entire goal at his mercy. It was mistakes like that which threatened to cost City the match and Roch- dale, for the first time, launched a series of late raids. Fortunately, with the unsure Key pu pulling off two. good saves, Exeter survived. Anything other than a win for them would have been criminal. In addition to Hatch being sent off, referee Sewell cautioned Saxton for a first- half foul and Rochdale's full back Paul Hallows for tugging at Brian Joy's jersey.

Aleksic, Hore, Burrows, Horswill, Green, Delve, Randell, Johnson, Mariner, Rafferty, McAuley. 

Key, Templeman, Joy, Morrin, Saxton, Hatch, Wingate, Bowker, Robertson, Beer, Jennings

Rochdale 0 Exeter City 1 (Bowker)

Attendance 1,234



Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>