22nd April, 1972
BRENTFORD 1-0 EXETER CITY
Saturday, 22nd April, 1972
Report From a Brentford programme
A tense affair which ended in a 1-0 Brentford victory, a result which saw us promoted back to the Third Division after an absence of six years. The game was our 44th of the season and our last at home and we went in to it in third position in the League table-three points clear of fifth placed Lincoln City, so the mathematics of the situation meant a win for us coupled with a draw or defeat for Lincoln in their match at Aldershot would ensure promotion. The Grecians, unbeaten in their last six matches and with only one defeat from their last ten, would be no pushovers however, and included in their side two players with plenty of incentive to play well - Barry Rowan and Joe Gadston - both of whom had spent spells at Griffin Park but had been released without making the League team, the latter named of course is now back here in charge of our juniors. The above named pair took their place that afternoon in an Exeter side that lined up as follows:-
Wilson, Crawford, Blain, Parker, Giles, Balson, Rowan, Banks, Gadston, Binney, Gibson. Sub Wingate (not used)
Frank Blunstone, who before the match picked up his second Bells Whisky Manager of the Month Award of the season, fielded:-
Phillips, Hawley, Nelmes, Gelson, Scales, Ross, Allen, Graham, O'Mara, HoustonDocherty. Sub: Neilson (not used)
The Referee being the multi talented Mike Kerkhof of Bicester, a man listed in the programme as being an A.S.A. swimming teacher and examiner, International Boxing Referee, National Volleyball Coach and Physical Training Instructor!
The Bees, roared on by the 14,520 crowd, quickly warmed to their task and in the early stages showed little sign of any nerves with goal attempts from Bobby Ross, Jackie Graham and naturally enough 25 goal John O'MaraFred Binney, scorer of 15 goals himself to date that term, showed his danger when forcing a good low save out of Gordon Phillips, but things quickly returned to the norm with Brentford on top and on 10 minutes big John O'Mara sawa header from a Jackie Graham corner cleared off the line. An early home goal was much wanted by the crowd and in the 14th minute to their relief it arrived, though only from a hotly disputed penalty Exeter's centre half Jimmy Giles challenge in the box on O'Mara appearing to be quite legalthe Referee felt differently however, and ice cool skipper Bobby Ross did the rest.
The excitement continued shortly afterwards when Stewart Houston, still on loan from Chelsea, headed inches over from a Docherty cross and then immediately after following a neat exchange of passes with Graham shot straight at WilsonExeter were ever dangerous on the break, however, and on the half hour mark came close to levelling when Alan Banks was only just beaten on an edge of the box chase by the ever alert PhillipsThat half chance stirred on The Bees somewhat before the break though, and in a flurry of action Mike Allen, Stewart Houston and John Docherty all brought the best out of custodian Bob Wilson. Former Bee Barry Rowan next had a chance for the visitors but topped his shot and after Banks had forced a fine save out of Phillips the first half ended with O'Mara heading over the top from a teasing Graham corner, the flag kick being our eighth of the afternoon compared to The Grecians one. The second half remained a cut and thrust affair, though naturally as proceedings went on Brentford got a little edgy and started playing some safety first football to maintain their lead, an early second goal would probably have made all the difference but sadly it didn't materialise - though not for the want of trying!
Wilson was again by far the busier goalkeeper and in early exchanges held a swirling Houston crossball and dived bravely at the swinging feet of O'Mara. Graham also produced his spéciality of the inswinging corner during this period- the kick floating untouched across goal and on to the far post and out with Alan Hawley spurning the chance of a rare goal when ballooning the rebound over. Time and again in the second half Exeter fell in to the well organised Brentford offside trap and this brought blessed respite, Binney managed to breakthrough the stranglehold on the hour mark though, but his hard shot was again well held by Phillips who was in excellent formA crucial five minutes or so followed in which Peter Gelson denied Banks with a face saving tackle, Ross cleared off the line from Gadston and Rowan headed just wide we survived the onslaught though and were not really troubled in the rest of the matchWe should have wrapped the match up shortly. afterwards in fact, but were denied what looked a blatant penalty. Jimmy Blain, Exeter's experienced full back handling clearly in the six yard box, though amazingly Referee Kerkhof indicated it had hit his knee, a decision which balanced up his equally perplexing first half award. The last few minutes of the match saw Wilson save well from a rasping O'Mara drive and Ross fire just over, full time arrived not a minute too soon for the nailbiting fans though, and the wait then started for the Lincoln result.
Expectant ears pressed to radios soon gathered the news of The Imps goalless draw and of course on pitch celebrations begun, the memories of which still remain fresh in the mind nearly 20 years on