Match 27
13th December 1980
FA Cup 2nd Round
Millwall (a)

True grit tames the Lions


FA Cup 2nd Round 

IN the past Millwall has hardly proved to be the happiest of hunting grounds for Exeter City or their manager Brian Godfrey.

The City boss's two previous visits to The Den had ended in a humiliating 5-1 hammering and a somewhat unfortunate' 1-0 defeat. But this time, the boot was on the other foot as City could count themselves perhaps a little lucky to progress to the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in three years. Although it lacked the blood and guts of some games, this was a typical Cup tie. The quality of the football always seemed destined to take second place to the irresitable desire to reach the next round of the competition. Much of the football that was played came from Millwall's young Lions, who appeared desperately anxious to please their new player-manager Peter Anderson. who was watching from the sidelines. But the FA Cup is more about fighting spirit than pretty passing and neat ball control and in the end City's honest endeavour triumphed over Millwall' youthful exuberance. Exeter found themselves under pressure for much of the game but their stubborn resistance gradually calmed Millwall constant waves of attack. And when Peter Rogers nipped in to steal a 70th minute goal, the tide turned completely in Exeter's favour. Millwall had started the match as if they were in the mood to repeat the hammering they gave City last season. Twice in the opening 15 minutes, Chris Dibble, one of seven teenagers in their side. was able to get in unchallenged headers which a more experienced striker might well have turned into goals. Alan McKenna was also guilty of a couple of glaring first half misses, while Dave Mehmet forced a brilliant save from City keeper Len Bond. Millwall continued in the same attacking vein at the start of the second half, but Exeter's defence was looking more and more composed as the game wore on. And just as Godfrey had predicted before the match, their frustration at not being able to score the goal their efforts deserved began to show on the faces of Millwall's young players. Suddenly Exeter found themselves in a position to throw men forward and they should have gone ahead when Dave Pullar latched on to a mistake by veteran Barry Kitchener and set up an easy chance for Tony Kellow only for the 19-goal striker to plant his shot wide of the post with the goal at his mercy. Fortunately for City, however, the miss did not prove too costly.  Three minutes later, Millwall's tiring side made another mistake - and this time it received the ultimate punishment. Andy Massey seemed to be well in control after intercepting a cross from Kellow, but he dithered over his pass back to goalkeeper John Jackson and Rogers was able to nip in between them and flash the ball into the roof of the net from a couple of yards out. It was the signal for Millwall to launch yet another massive assault on the Exeter goal, but by now City were well and truly in command and they never looked like surrendering their hard-won place in the third round.





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