20th December 1980
'SUB' RAY IS STAR OF GLORY
Exeter City 2
P. Rogers, Pratt
Match Report by Gordon Hines
WHAT a cracking game. What a mar- vellous advertisement for football. And how fitting that both sides should finish on level terms. At one stage it looked as if Exeter had gifted Chesterfield the points when they trailed by two goals 20 minutes into the second half. But not even the sleet coming down in near - blizzard-like conditions could deny City the ultimate glory of a truly memorable fightback. And who could have forecast that the hero at the end of the day would be substitute Ray Pratt a 75th minute replacement for Ian Pearson. With Pratt on, Exeter threw caution to the wind and pushed everyone forward except 'keeper Len Bond and defensive cornerstone Phil Roberts. Peter Rogers pulled one back two minutes after Pratt's arrival with a speculative cross from the right which Chesterfield and former Torquay United goalkeeper John Turner should have saved. But Turner looked to have one eye on the ball, the other on raiding Tony Kellow, and what was really intended as a Roger's centre slipped from Turner's grasp and into the net. The real drama was still to come, however, with only three minutes of recognised time to play. Midfielder Dick Forbes swung a pass to Peter Hatch on the left; Hatch hit his centre to perfection, and Pratt hoisted himself to send a header across goal beyond Turner. It was just the type of finish to a match that had everything from open play to copybook defensive marking, and from brilliant individual skills to outrageous mistakes.
When you take into account the horrible conditions, plus what was at stake for two promotion conscious sides, it was an exciting match, well hand-led by Hounslow Referee Colin Downey. Mr Downey had reason to issue second half yellow cards to Chesterfield's Ernie Moss and Kellow, but generally he allowed the players to get on with the game and spectators to enjoy it at the same time.
'And what about our fans?' asked Manager Brian Godfrey afterwards. 'I rated this our best per- formance of the season against one of the best sides in the Third Division. 'But the fans played their part in helping us to pull back. "They got behind the team and it was wonderful to see so many turn up. In all honesty, those supporters must have wondered after 65 minutes if Exeter hadn't missed the boat through wasted chances. Pearson fluffed what could only be described as a sitter in the ninth minute before Chesterfield opened their account from a corner after 27 minutes. A Moss shot was parried by Bond after the City 'keeper had lost sight of an Alan Crawford corner. Lit- tle Alan Birch whipped home the half chance. Turner sprang off his line to make a courageous save from Kellow while Pearson also muffed another chance before Chesterfield stretched their lead in the 65th minute. Bond again parried a Moss shot but this time Crawford followed up to score a simple goal after Exeter had been left dread- fully exposed by Hatch.
Bond, Rogers (M.), Hatch, Forbes, Roberts (L.), Roberts (P.) ,Pearson, Rogers (P.), Kellow, Delve, Pullar, Pratt (sub)
Match Report 2
BY DEREK LEAN
Pratt grabs point in thriller
THE myth that good football cannot be played in atrocious weather conditions was exploded in this match as both sides but particularly Exeter laid on some super soccer in a howling gale and a malicious mixture of rain, hail and sleet. The sides shared the points but the game of soccer itself won the match by a mile. It was a clash that had just about every ingredient to set the adrenalin flowing crisp and constructive football on a heavy slippery pitch, four goals as well as plenty of other goalmouth action and a rousing finale in which Exeter staged a story-book comeback to grab the share of the spoils. When the excitement had died down, it was easy enough to reflect that City should never have had to rely on Ray Pratt's 88th minute equaliser to maintain their run of seven games without defeat. But that does not detract from the fact that this was a nail-biting thriller of a game that was pure entertainment all the way. With only 15 minutes to go Exeter were two goals down to promotion-chasing Chesterfield and few would have given them any, chance of getting back into the game. To add to City's misfortunes, one of those goals had been the result of a simple human error rather than any good work on the part of Chesterfield. But Exeter refused to be shaken out of their attacking stride and time and again took the game to Chesterfield determined that all was not lost. They proved their point by staging an attacking storm of their own that matched the elements in its force. Chesterfield manager Frank Barlow, understandably disappointed at seeing what looked like a winning situation slip from his grasp, underlined afterwards that his side had conceded the two goals not through any weakening or lack of commitment on the part of his players. He was right. Exeter had earned their draw through their stubborn determination not to throw in the towel. But, overall, City had only themselves to blame for being in that position in the first place. They squandered three or four gilt-edged chances and compounded that failing by an act of incredible generosity that gave Chesterfield their second goal.
Chesterfield, in fact, had precious few goal-getting chances and spent most of their time trying to contain an Exeter side which managed to produce football of surprising fluency in those appalling conditions. But for a long time it looked as if it would turn out to be one of those days when City would do everything right except find the net. Their probing soccer created a couple of chances for Ian Pearson and Peter Rogers which were not taken as they should have been and former Torquay 'keeper John Turner was in splendid form to deal with a series of dangerous situations. Right against the run of play Chesterfield went ahead in the 27th minute after forcing a corner from a dangerous raid on the break. When the ball came across, Ernie Moss tried a shot which was smartly saved by Len Bond, but the ball rebounded to Alan Birch and he knocked in his 17th goal of the season. But the way Exeter were playing one goal did not seem an impossible hurdle to overcome. It was only when in the 65th minute Chesterfield got another that the game turned sour for the Devon club. Peter Hatch safely collected the ball in defence but instead of slipping it back to Bond, in his eagerness to set up another attack Hatch decided to run with the ball. As he went across his own goal he was dispossessed by Moss, who leapt at the chance to try a shot at goal. Somehow Bond managed to beat the ball out with a tremendous save but it went loose to the unmarked Alan Crawford and, presented with an open goal, he made no mistake. Still Exeter pushed forward and in the 75th minute they had their break. Peter Rogers tried a long shot from the right and Turner got an awkward bounce. The ball went under his body and into the net. Manager Brian Godfrey decided to increase his fire power and sent on substitute Ray Pratt for midfield man Pearson. It was a move that paid off. With only two minutes to go Dick Forbes played the ball out to Hatch on the left. His cross was beautifully flighted and Pratt got up well to head in the equaliser.