21st April 1984
EXETER CITY 1
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 1
Third Division, 21 April 1984
Exeter City (4-3-3): Richard Crabtree; Graeme Kirkup, Simon Webster, Nicky Marker Keith Viney; Mark O'Connor, Martin Ling (sub: Frank Howarth), Steve Harrower; John Sims, Ray Pratt, Roy McDonough;
Manager: Gerry Francis
Plymouth Argyle (4-3-3): Geoff Crudgington; Gordon Nisbet, Chris Harrison, Lindsay Smith, John Uzzell; Leigh Cooper, Kevin Hodges, Dave Phillips; Tommy Tynan (sub: Neville Chamberlain), Gordon Staniforth, Andy Rogers;
Manager: John Hore.
Argyle's dream of Wembley glory had been ended cruelly, five days before this crucial relegation clash. The Pilgrims had barely had time to recover from their devastating FA Cup semi-final defeat by Watford, before having to concentrate on their precarious League position against desperate derby rivals Exeter, who were firmly rooted to the bottom of the table. Argyle's wonderful cup deeds were not reflected by their League results, and they came into this match knowing that City could drag them down into the relegation mire.
Before the game, St James Park was 'buzzed' by a light aircraft with a message for the home fans from rebel director Dan McCauley, who had been voted off the board after being openly critical of club policy. As the plane circled the ground of the relegation-haunted club, it trailed a banner with a message aimed at club chairman Clifford Hill: 'Without Dan, it's down Hill.'
The pre-match entertainment over, the business of the day started in earnest. The game got off to a sensational start in the first minute when Exeter skipper Keith Viney went on an overlapping full-back's raid down the left flank, played a one-two with Ray Pratt, then cut in to lash a shot against the upright. Argyle immediately counter-attacked and Exeter defender Nicky Marker made a goal-line clearance to avert the danger. Plymouth gradually gained control and won seven corners in the first half-hour. From one of these flag-kicks, Lindsay Smith got up superbly to head against the post. The Greens' leading scorer, Tommy Tynan, had a goal disallowed for offside before City delivered a shock to the visitors by taking the lead against the run of play. Martin Ling took a quick throw-in to Roy McDonaugh, who caught the defence flat-footed with a deep cross from the right, which found Ray Pratt in space. The striker bril liantly took his chance by hooking the ball over 'keeper Geoff Crudgington. The Grecians tried desperately to cling onto this slender lead and break a run of 17 games without a win. Just when it seemed the home side would hold out, Argyle grabbed a deserved equaliser. Winger Andy Rogers collected the ball from a Crudgington clearance and found substitute Neville Chamberlain. His pinpoint cross was met by Gordon Staniforth to beat City's debutant 'keeper Richard Crabtree with a glancing header.
This result left City on the rocks of certain relegation and kept Argyle just two points above the bottom four.