24 November 1971
FA Cup 1st Round (Replay)
Crawley Town (h)
Exeter City 2, Crawley Town 0
By DEREK LEAN
The totally ruthless partisan would, no doubt, have described Barry Rowan's 88th minute goal that put the result of this game beyond all doubt as deserved, and the inevitable result of Exeter's pressure.
But gallant Crawley deserved a tighter score line to mark their courage. It was a typical Cup replay that will be argued in many ways. Of course Exeter had head and shoulders more of the play. Of course, they did the vast majority of the attacking.
Certainly 28-year-old John Maggs, bricklayer by day and goalkeeper on Saturdays for Southern League Crawley, had the sort of game he will tell his grandchildren about.
Throughout he was safer than a Socialist seat in the Rhondda Valley, and at times positively spectacular in the way he dealt with a whole series of shots.
And on top of all that it is true to say that Exeter missed a hatful of chances and should have had this match all stitched up ready for the Second Round by midway through the first half.
But that is only part of the story. The other part is the sheer enthusiasm and non-stop effort of a Crawley team that deserves nothing but praise.
They had a couple of efforts cleared off the line; they had one piledriver of a shot from Micky Griffiths smartly saved by Bob Wilson; and there were a handful of occasions when they buzzed round the Exeter goal, not actually getting at the ball, but threaten- ing with the sort of menace that would frighten most people.
And in defence, although they were helped by the ineffectiveness of Exeter's finishing and some remarkably careless play by City, they played their hearts out, fought tenaciously, and did every- thing a non-League side could do to contain Exeter.
Had Crawley managed to get a draw-and at times it was more than a possibility because of those wasted chances then, in all con- science, they could not have been held as giant-killers, because Exeter City did not look the least bit like giants in this game.
It was in fact Crawley who opened up the excitement, with Peter Frost, playing despite a hairline fracture of the nose, trying a hopeful long shot that was a long way over the bar.
Then Exeter started in on the long and consistent game of coming at Crawley. Their attacking play had more of the persistence of the incoming tide than the swift and certain skill of a footballing side that knows very well how to open up a defence.
But certainly they were well on top, and only Maggs, borrowing the tenacity of Horatius, kept them at bay.
He brilliantly saved a point- blank range shot from John Wingate and then proceeded to do exactly the same with cracking close efforts from Tony Morrin and Jimmy Giles.
But, despite the magnificence of Maggs, Crawley eventually cracked, and it came in the 26th minute from a corner. Rowan's kick found the head of Wingate, and the ball went into the corner of the net.
The goal, however, was not to open the floodgates for an Exeter runaway win. Instead, Crawley wiped the blood from their nose, as it were, and got back into the game.
Griffiths had a chance, but shot straight at Wilson and then Giles had to clear off the line from centre-half John Leedham.
The second half saw Exeter again miss chances, but also saw Crawley come forward with a lot more confidence and determina- tion. At the start Maggs showed that he was still right on top form and dealt beautifully with shots from Wingate and Gadston.
Then came more anxious moments for Exeter with Mike Balson having to clear a huge dropping shot off the line. No matter how hard they tried Exeter did not look like finding the combination to crack goalkeeper Maggs' personal safe. He saved handsomely Wingate and Alan from Banks, but two minutes from the end the goal that finally put Crawley out of the Cup came.
Barry Rowan. ran through a positive maze of players before lashing the ball into the net.