27th December 1971
Exeter C 1-0 Aldershot
Considering that this was Exeter's first league win since the beginning of November it was certainly a Christmas present for which their supporters were grateful enough. But the manner of the win was such that it was a gift that fell into the mundane rather than the splendidly generous bracket.
Young Steve Morris got his first goal of the season, and mighty important one it was when his header nine minutes from time flew sweetly into the top corner of the net with goalkeeper Gerry Gurr well beaten."
But that only tells part of the story. Exeter had enough of the play in the first half and a couple of good chances to have got themselves into a strong position against an Alder- shot side, who in the first 45 minutes failed to impress.
They did not maintain that superiority in the second spell, and indeed, it was their turn to, take some punishment from an Aldershot side which suddenly side started to show their attacking paces. Happily for Exeter Aldershot's finishing was as ineffective as Exeter's. In some ways Aldershot, had better chances. Certainly the inside forward Dennis Brown missed a couple of chances that fell definitely into the sitter' class.
Few would deny that it was a game with plenty of effort with everyone running and chasing hard. But when it came to quality soccer, the match had as little flesh as today's turkey carcass.
Exeter made their best chances from the sheer insistence of their efforts, rather than from cunning craft that deceives defence. Aldershot did show some unorthodox touches-Jimmy Melia, on the few occasions Tony Morrin did not mark him out of the game, who stabbed and sprayed some glorious passes but their finishing was extremely half-hearted.
But to get back to the action. It started early enough with Barry Rowan crossing for Alan Banks to just meet the ball and head over the top.
Then after a really hectic skirmish in the Aldershot penalty area Morris smashed in a handy first- time effort which produced a spectacular save from Gurr.
Exeter did get the ball into the net in this first half with one of the few really decisive and authoritative moves to come from Exeter. Alan Banks, Joe Gadston and Rowan combined smoothly and Rowan slid the ball in but referee Jack Taylor (Wolverhampton) decided Rowan was offside.
The pattern of play changed with a vengeance in the second half. Exeter had to do their share of defending as Aldershot started to come at them. Melia laid on a perfect chance for Brown, but he threw it away carelessly when he had only Wilson to beat. A few minutes later he missed another through being too slow, and then, after John Sydenham's cross, Brown got in a point-blank- range shot, but Wilson was there to smother the ball.
Wilson did not have an over busy afternoon, but what he had to do he did well, and he produced one classic diving save to a thundering shot from Roger Joslyn that looked to have goal written all over it. Then, with the game drawing to a close, and seemingly to a goalless conclusion, Exeter again started to move forward.
They were awarded a free-kick, and Jimmy Blain's long cross-ball was headed on by John Wingate. Racing in fast was Morris, and his header went straight and true into the net.