1st January 1972
Chester City (a)
Exeter Shatter Chester's proud record.
Chester C 1-2 Exeter
Taylor; Edwards, Griffiths; Pountney, Turner, Ash- worth; Carter, Draper, Loyden, Sinclair and Tinnion. Sub: Cheetham.
Wilson; Stacey,Blain; Parker, Giles, Ralson; Rowen, Morrin, Binney, Wingate and Morris, Sub: Crawford.
Referee: Mr. J. Rice (Preston). Attendance: 3.610.
All good things come to an end, but it was the way in which the City surrendered their 22 match unbeaten home record that left the "faithful 3,000" frustrated, angered and dejected. From the 48th minute of this fateful game, when Fred Binney headed Exeter into the lead for the first time, we were treated to a succession of cavalry charges. The pity was that the City left all their ammunition behind. Exeter, no experts in taking away points (now seven from 12 games), found themselves in a situation where, for 42 minutes, they had to keep Chester out. Not surprisingly Exeter pulled back all their resources to pack an average looking defence. Chester set up camp in the Exeter half, only retreating to retrieve the long ball out of defence.
Manager, Ken Roberts, described the Exeter rearguard as a 'Red Army. And it was just as solid and dependable against the City's efforts to equalise, which lacked craft and guile. Loyden and Draper, heavily outnumbered, were served with long high balls down the middle. They never beat the odds. It was all so stereotyped, and the Exeter defence lapped it up. When it had failed for the first half dozen times we expected a change of tactics. I cannot remember one orthodox cross from the wings, as Chester struggled to fad a way through to Wilson, who had only one dangerous situation to contend with. He failed on this occasion, after 64 minutes, when Ray Carter's clever lob over the Exeter defence and Chester for wards, dropped past him into the net. Exeter were saved by the referee, who decided that Draper had fouled the goalkeeper as he watched the ball come down. Draper claimed he never touched Wilson. but it has never been worth crying over spilt milk. The game drew to its inevit able close, although referee Rice, of Preston, extended the agony by five minutes of injury time. I don't think that the City would have equalised if he had granted them extra time.
It was all the more frustrating because Chester should never have allowed themselves to get into that familiar second half position. They had forced Exeter on to almost permanent defence in the first half. The difference was that chances were created. One was taken, but a host of others were squandered. and a freak equal- iser allowed Exeter to return to the dressing room at half tie with the first of their 10 points secured. Loyden was the chief culprit, and after only eight minutes we had the first taste of a wild afternoon's shooting from the centre forward. Dave Pountney, who with Neil Griffiths, was the only City player to come out of the game with honours, split the advanced Exeter defence with a long through pass. Loyden flashed past the startled defenders, but as the go: invited a rising shot, the centre-forward smashed a low one into Wilson, and the ball was deflected harmlessly for a corner. Harmlessly, because on Saturday Chester were a effective from dead ball situations as they have been from venalties. Taylor, deputising for Livsey, who was suffering on the side lines with a nasty boil on his arm, was brought into the picture after 18 minutes. Exeter broke quickly and Taylor was forced to dive at Rowan's feet-way out of goal. Luckily, the ball bounced for Turner to clear. Five minutes later, Chester were ahead and they just about deserved it after 23 minutes of mediocre football. Neil Griffiths, emerging as one of the modern breed of fast, overlapping and ball playing full-backs, brought down a ball on the edge of the penalty area and pushed a lethal low ball to the feet of Roy Sinclair. He had the simple task of scoring his second goal since joining City a fortnight ago. Stacey, the Exeter full-back, who once had the briefest of spells with Chester, thought Sinclair was offside. He came off worst in his argu- ment with the referee. The goal stood and Stacey's name went into the book. Ten minutes later, Exeter were level after a freakish incident. Turner deflected the ball inside his penalty area and Binney returned the compliment by deflecting it past a startled Taylor. It rocked City on their heels, but the action reverted to the Exeter half as Loyden began a personal siege on Wilson's goal. Wilson, however, never took a hand in it as first Loyden put a good shot wide, missed an open goal and then sent a screamer against the Kop wall
The pity was that Loyden was still the most dangerous looking forward on the field. What he needed was more thought, better aim and a little of Binney's luck and stealth. BINNEY had luck with his first goal. He scored the winner when he stole between two Chester defenders to head past Taylor. I believe Taylor called as Blain's pinpoint cross came over and Edwards and Griffiths left it. The goalkeeper misjudged it and Binney scored a simple, well taken goal. Binney marred his return as a striker when he was booked for a foul on Griffiths late in the game.
Joe Ashworth's debut as sweeper behind the defence was Overshadowed by the occasion, and although he had a quiet time he never put a foot wrong. His introduction also freed Dave Pountney to a more lib eral role. Dave gave all he had as usual and revelled in his new freedom, He looked quite good coming forward, and this move could prove successful. But it is the forward line where the major problems are, and time is running out to put things right.