19th February 1972
Exeter City 0, Reading 0.
Little things, so they say, come in small packages. That is certainly true of Reading goalkeeper Steve Death, re- puted to be the smallest keeper in the Football League. Maybe but in one all-important moment in this game, Death was ten-feet tall in talent.
A game which produced little in the way of quality football, not much in the form of excitement, and not many signs of Exeter's recently improved form, looked to be finally won for Exeter early in the second half.
Dave Gibson sweetly sent across a centre of pin-point accuracy, and racing in hard, Tony Morrin met the ball perfectly to send it smartly on the way into the Reading goal.
But Death produced one of those saves that is more than part of a football match it was one to be tucked away in the memory book and to be trotted out when the conversation turns to truly fine goalkeeeping.
Unquestionably, that save gave Reading a share of the points, and despite the fact that Exeter had far more of the play and better chances, it was, one felt, a draw that Reading deserved.
Because Reading certainly had their troubles when they arrived at a bitterly cold St. James' Park. Already striker Harman was out of action with flu, and at the last minute centre forward Les Chappell went down with a heavy cold.
It was really catching, because five of the Reading players were complaining of feeling the early signs of chills and just before the kick-off, they had a tot of
The "wee dram" certainly worked well, because Reading presented Exeter with a tenacious, certainly tough, and extremely hard-working defence.
Exeter kept coming at them, but the moments when they broke through to do any real damage were few and far between. On top of that Exeter did not seem to be able to scheme their way through, and there was not the crispness to their approach work
But equally it is true to say that Exeter's defence gave precious little away, and the result was the sort of deadlock normally associated with the never-ending series of industrial disputes.
Exeter worked hard at the task of getting their fourth win on the trot, and there were times when it looked as if they would get it. But too often the shots were either wide of the mark, or just well covered by Reading's back line.
Exeter did have one magnificent chance early in the game with Barry Rowan setting up the ball for Alan Banks. But the inside forward scooped his shot over the bar from in this sort close of range, and give nothing chances just away match those chances could not be missed.