26th December 1980
Plymouth Argyle (a)
City have all the answers
BY RAY HEAD
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 0 EXETER CITY 2
BOXING DAY ended on a high note for eter City at Home Park yesterday with a fine victory over Argyle earned by a spirited team performance and first half goals from Tony Kellow (penalty) and Dave Pullar, in a six-minute spell.
Luck turned Exeter's way in the 25th minute when Leigh Cooper needlessly, and perhaps accidentally, handled in the area and Kellow stepped up to hammer the penalty home his 20th goal of the season to go one up on David Kemp. Nine minutes earlier Basingstoke referee, David Letts reprieved Phil Roberts when he tripped Kemp as he was turning and even the unbiased among the crowd had no reason to doubt it was a penalty. Exeter made Argyle suffer again when Pullar clinically struck the second goal in the 31st minute - and it was laid on by Kellow with his tight control in a small space.
On the day Keliow's fangs were sharper than Kemp's, and it needed fine saves by goalkeeper Geoff Crudgington from Kellow, Peter Hatch and John Delve, to keep Argyle in place. But Plymouth never looked like picking up the pieces after going a goal down. Exeter found all the answers in this game. The attendance of 14,792 was the biggest at Home Park since Bobby Saxton took over as manager. Bitterly disappointed with the result, he said: "It was criminal having got a big crowd in that we didn't perform. We picked the wrong match to play badly, but that's not taking anything away from Exeter, who deserved to win. "They gained the initiative with a penalty and we weren't capable of getting it back." Saxton conceded: "We couldn't put anything together, never extended them at all and didn't pass the ball well enough, although we had plenty of possession. There were a lot of enforced errors from our side -and we made it too easy for them. At least we could have entertained the crowd."
Exeter boss Brian Godfrey, delighted with his side's show, which took them above Plymouth in the table, commented: "Our attitude was the big factor-we had total involvement, really wanted to win and got what we deserved with a bit of style. We didn't freeze like we did here last season and I have been drumming this into the players throughout the week. They were certainly gee-ed up for the match."
Godfrey felt his team caused Argyle a lot of problems from corners "because we tried something different. "We are a fair side as good as any in the League-and we are in a tidy run at the moment. "They had a chance just after we'd scored our first and we knew they'd come out with a hell of a rattle in the second half and fight right to the end. But we've a lot of good workers and I thought we easily contained them. We might have had more goals." Godfrey revealed that Phil Roberts, suffering from badly bruised ribs, was fortunate to get through the game. Shots from Brian Bason and Donal Murphy sailed over the Exetes goal early in the match and Crudgington refused to be overawed by a first time drive from Delve. The always lively Kellow produced one splendid effort which was only a touch away, and Exeter were bent on proving something themselves, even if Kemp was brough down when making a penetrating run in the area which left referee Letts unimpressed.
Exeter got the vital lift in morale they wanted when Cooper was adjudged to have handled a shot by Ian Pearson and Kellow gratefully accepted the chance to slam home the penalty. Immediately Kemp had the best chance of making a Plymouth breakthrough, only to be foiled by Len Bond, who had to move sharply to save. Plymouth were often strained containing the probes of Kellow, and from Hatch's free kick the Enote striker passed inside to Pullar-and Crudgington barely saw Pullar's effort as the ball flew into the top of the net. Plymouth gave Bond few problems, although he pulled out a spectacular late stop from John Sims. Argyle substituted Brian Johnson for Brian McNeill in the 67th minute when they were battling to win back their self-respect, but they looked far less efficient than usual. They forced Exeter back in the second half, but met with staunch resistance and could not complain about the result. Exeter's total commitment accomplished their task so. successfully, and Plymouth seemed to lack their customary confidence and persistence. They never looked like delivering the killer blow. As Saxton said: "I don't like getting beaten and I was very disappointed we let the crowd down so badly."