Match 36
4th March 1972
Southend (h)

Exeter City 0, Southend 0

EXETER CITY player-manager John Newman yesterday counted the cost of this valuable, but expensive point, won in the teeth of deplorable conditions, on a day when the street flower-sellers with their early daffodils and colourful carna- tions looked strangely incongruous against a grey, wet background of snow and rain.

Because Exeter ended this stamina-sapping game, where strength was as important a commodity as skill, with ten men and the unhappy knowledge that big striker John Wingate was in the dressing room with torn ligaments in his leg and that substitute John Giles was in hospital having his leg X-rayed.

The news on Giles was a little brighter after the game, with the report that nothing was broken, but that his leg was badly bruised. But Mr. Newman contemplated afterwards that with a rash of fixtures to come, injuries like this give a headache he could well do without.

And no doubt he is mighty glad that he got the signature of former Barnstaple striker John Neale on Friday

The game itself, of course, was totally dictated by conditions. Three times referee John Gow, of Swansea, inspected the pitch during the morning before deciding the match could go ahead.

A visiting Soccer writer commented at the kick-off: "I reckon we shall sort out the boys from the men by the time this one is finished." Sticking to his analogy one I can only comment that all the players showed they were men of determination and grit.

Because on a day like this is a minute seems three times as long; the ball three times as heavy; a pass that on any other day would be straight and true sticks in the mud, or slows in the water and becomes a gift to the other side; and a run down the wing resembles a sprint up the sand dunes of the North Cornwall beaches.

In some ways a draw was a fair result in that both sides tried to play football and never gave up. But on the run of play and the share of chances it was Exeter who came out on top.

There were a couple of oppor- tunities that should should have been taken, but perhaps it is worth remembering that there is all the difference between looking at a move from the grandstand and having to contend with the condi- tions these players faced.

Even so, Exeter certainly started full produced some remarkably of fire and good soccer. The game was only minutes old when Barry Rowan set up a chance for John Wingate. But the inside-forward swung a first-time shot weakly at goal- keeper Derek Bellotti.

After that, Fred Binney headed one over the top and Rowan did the same with a shot. Rowan produced one of the best individual efforts of the game as he slipped a tackle and went away on his Own. It took a tremendous save from Bellotti to stop his shot.

Equally, Bob Wilson did pretty well to smother a hard first-time drive from Terry Johnson and produced a magnificent save in the second half to a dropping shot from Peter Taylor, which, if it had gone in, would have settled the issue.

Southend, of course, did not escape with- out injuries. They lost their wing-half Dave Elliott with a pulled muscle after only 10 minutes.

A final verdict on the game from Mr. Newman: "In the conditions I thought we played with courage and conviction and that takes some doing."Nobody  would disagree.

Attendance: 3,336.

Exeter City paid a heavy price for their draw with pro- motion contenders Southend. 

John Giles, who came on as substitute for the injured John Wingate, went to hospital for an X-ray Manager John Newman, said last night: "Fortunately, nothing is broken, but there is severe thigh bruising and he may have ruptured a muscle. He has been ordered to take a complete rest for five days."

Wingate, who was recalled to the side and did not play in the second half has torn knee ligaments and is likely to be out for two or three weeks.

Newman praised his team for the way they took heart after being reduced to ten men. "You had to admire the lads for their brave battling and non-stop running in terrible conditions.

For half an hour we played very well, but didn't take our chances and then the pitch began to cut up. We've gone three matches without scoring now and that is always worrying."



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