Match 38
15th March 1972
Darlington (h)

Exeter City 3, Darlington 0

On a day when the temperatures soared and spring finally looked to have arrived, Exeter City threw off some of their recent winter miseries as well, and certainly ended a mini-goal famine by smartly sending three into the Darlington net by half-time.

After that the game lost some of its lustre as far as Exeter were concerned, but those three first-half goals were a gilt-edged investment for victory.

Darlington doggedly stuck to the task of trying to get back into the game, produced patches of quite lively approach work, but failed dismally to finish and so produce any sort of crisis for Exeter.

Darlington did not produce the sort of opposition as Exeter have had to meet in recent games, but their weakness was in front of goal, and had they been on target they might have produced a closer contest.

For Exeter, of course, it was head and shoulders a better performance than those of the previous four games, when they have only managed to get one goal, and that from the penalty spot. As expected, Exeter player-manager John Newman made hanges up front. He did, in fact, bring in 23-year-old North Devon striker John Neale, who until a couple of weeks ago was an amateur for Barnstaple Town with a reputation as a goal-getter. And he brought back Joe Gadston, the man who has recently finished a month on loan at Poole.

His object was plain enough-to get striking power. That is exactly what he got. The first half was Exeter's finest three-quarters of an hour. It was then that they produced the football that mattered, good, direct, positive attacking soccer garnished with flair.

The man who was outstanding in bringing about this transformation in the forward line was Gadston. From the word go he brought control and skill to the attack, and that made all the difference.

Time and again he pulled the ball down, controlled it, shielded it looked for the right man and made the right pass with the accuracy and certainty that counted. At the same time he was running off the ball with supreme confidence. He produced touches when athletic prowess becomes artistry.

He was helped in this by an equally fine first half performance by the tireless Tony Morrin. He, too, was racing and chasing all the time, making the right space and feeding the right sort of pass. The two combined beautifully and Exeter flourished as a result.

What of Neale? Well, there was no story-book ending for his debut. But on one occasion it was only a matter of inches that stopped him marking his professional soccer career opening with a goal. He, too, played his heart out, showing plenty of promise, and with a little more luck might have got a goal.

Exeter set the pace and dictated the terms from the start with Gadston quickly showing his form in front of goal. Under pressure and unable to get in a shot, he still managed to whip the ball back to Fred Binney, who headed over the top.


Neale was also in action early full of life and enthusiasm, he chased a ball from Morrin and goalkeeper Peter Walter had to save smartly.

Darlington were back-pedalling hard and Exeter this time took advantage. Gadston sparked off the first goal with an intelligent pass to Morrin going wide on the right. He swept across a hard, lowish centre and Binney bundled the ball into the net,

Tonic, certainly and Exeter looked all the fitter for the goal. Dave Gibson produced one of his crisp and concise crosses and Gadston flung himself at the ball to head over the top.

In the 20th minute Morrin saw the opening and split the Darlington defence with a perfect through ball. Gadston latched on to the pass, steadied himself and a whiplash of a shot fairly rocketed into the corner of the net. Darlington's attacks were few and far between Jeff Barker made Bob Wilson stretch with one shot and and then Maurice Peddelty missed a glorious opportunity. Exeter were still having the better of things and just before half-time a Morrin free kick went to Steve Stacey His shot had the beating of the Darlington goalkeeper, but it was Binney who put the finishing touch to the move and made it 3-0.

In the second half Darlington came more into the picture, but still their finishing was weak, while Exeter's best efforts both came from Neale, a header that was just wide and a shot following a break blocked. away raid which

Attendance 3.497.



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