Bristol Rovers v ECFC
Reserves v East Devon League.
Bristol Rovers 0-0 Exeter City
THE CUP: FIFTH QUALIFYING ROUND
Bristol Rovers v Exeter City
Played at Stapleton Road, Eastville,
Saturday, December 3 1921
Today's match at Stapleton Road between Bristol Rovers and the Grecians in the fifth round of the F. A. Cup (Preliminary) has been very eagerly anticipated from the moment the draw was made, on November 21st.
It captured the imagination of the world of Soccer in the South West as only a first-class tie in the National Competition can. Cup "fever" has swooped down upon Devonshire earlier than usual this year. The battles of the Torquay United club in the first four rounds have kept Devon in touch with the competition right from the commencement of the season, and when the Plainmoor club retired from the arena, narrowly defeated by Boscombe, it was time for the Grecians to step in to carry on the story.
OPTIMISM AT BRISTOL
Bristol Rovers's supporters felt certain that Exeter's chapter would be more short than sweet. The Bristolians have not failed to toe the line with the Big Guns at the First Round Draw of the Competition Proper for many seasons, and in Exeter City, on this year's comparative form, they saw no real obstacle to the further progres of the Rovers. The features of today's match, from their standpoint, were the size of the "gate," and the margin by which the Rovers triumphed.
The Grecians opponents were fortunate to be able to place in the field their winning eleven, in fact the side with the best record in the Football League as regards points won in the last nine matches. And with the Aston Gate brigade away at Bury it was expected that all Bristol would be at Stapleton Road to see just how Exeter City were discomfited. The one anxiety felt among the Rovers's following was that Ellis Crompton might have something "up his sleeve."
EXETER CITY QUIETLY HOPEFUL
Crompton made no pretension to magical powers, nor did he lay claim to being an illusionist or conjuror (although he is a bit of a "conjuror" with a football). He relied wholly and solely on the grit and skill and determination of his men.
The team, individually and collectively, were quietly hopeful. Accompanied by a large party of club officials and friends, the City players left St David's at 8.50 o'clock this morning, and received a hearty "send-off" from the crowd of excursionists who were to follow on the nine o'clock train.
The journey to Bristol was uneventful, and the team lunched quietly at the George Hotel, adjacent to Temple Meads Station. The weather was cold and clear, and it looked as though all the expectations of a big "gate" would be realised. A sensation was caused by the announcement, made at the ground this afternoon, that Leigh, the centre-forward, would not be available, owing to sudden illness. The leadership of the attack was entrusted to Boxley, a robust and thrustful reserve player, accustomed to taking over any position in an emergency.
Panes, Winspear Morgan, Whatley, Walter, Simms, Boxley,Kissock, Steele
Congdon, Dockray, Vowles, Graham, Mitton
Referee:- Mr. Barratt, of Wiltshire.
The ground was in good condition. Exeter colours were freely displayed, the red and white rosettes and streamers amongst the big crowd making conspicuous splashes of colour against the more sombre black and white of Bristol. About five hundred Exeter City supporters made the journey, and they were very hopeful as to the issue. Bristol Rovers were first out, Exeter following quickly. Ellis Crompton received a great cheer from his erstwhile supporters. There were fully twenty thousand present when Simms named the coin correctly, and Vowles kicked off, facing the slight breeze. Stewart, it was observed, wore a skull cap. Bristol made some ground at the outset, and Dockray prevented
Walter from getting his centre across, but only at the expense of a corner. Simms headed wide from the flag-kick.
The Rovers captain was vigorously tackled by Pollard a minute later. Simms took the free-kick himself, 25 yards out, and drove the ball in low, but several yards wide of the posts.
DOCKRAY NEARLY SCORES
Spirited work by the City followed a brisk clearance by Stewart, and the inside-forwards made rapid strides for the other end where Congdon won a corner. This was headed clear by Simms. Play followed at a fast past and Exeter were awarded a free kick which Stewart placed well in front of the Rovers goal. Simms was bowled over by Dockray, and again play drifted to midfield.
The crowd, relishing the fast and exciting exchanges, was in a fervent. Watson paced up and down the Exeter goal, chewing hard, while two photographers knelt outside the net patiently waiting.
The City were the more dangerous team in the next few minutes, and the biggest thrill so far came when Newman rounded Kissock and middled the ball to Dockray, whose swift shot, taken on the half volley, flew just wide of the far upright. Vowles was putting a lot of life into his game, and Exeter were shaping splendidly fore and aft. In a Bristol attack a Morgan across Exeter's goal looked dangerous, but none other forwards were near enough to take advantage. pass by of the The Bristol goal had a very narrow escape when Vowles split the home defence with a pass to Dockray in the penalty area. Dockray shot, aiming for the corner of the goal, but Whatley sprang across and smothered the ball.
EXETER'S STUBBORN DEFENCE
Bristol Rovers, a big, hefty team, made the most of their extra inches of height, but the City were having a full share of the play so far. Midway through the half, however, Winspear fed Morgan, and the inside-right's accurate centre flew into the goalmouth, where Simms, Ball, and Boxley were all waiting. It came to Ball, whose header cleared the bar by a couple of yards, and the Exeter City following breathed a sigh of relief. Watson punched out a hefty shot by Simms, and when Exeter attacked Congdon was offside. In the ensuing play Bristol increased their speed, and set up a sustained attack, nevertheless failing to pierce a very stubborn defence. Ball drove a shot over the crossbar, and later hooked the leather just wide.
Crompton was now more like a fourth half-back; he was foiling Simms, and shadowed the Rovers skipper relentlessly. The excitement became intense as the interval approached, but Watson bent was never seriously tested, and at half-time the score was: on
BRISTOL ROVERS 0 EXETER CITY 0
The Band struck a quaint note of melancholy at the interval by a touching rendition of the song: "Where is now that merry party." Play re-opened at a great pace, both ends being visited in turn. The City defence was again in splendid fettle, although the forwards found it hard to make any impression.
A STRANGE DECISION
After eight minutes the referee awarded a corner to Bristol, a strange decision in view of the fact that no Exeter player had put the ball over the line. When the flag-kick came across, he gave a penalty, one of the City players having handled. The offence, if one had been committed, was purely accidental, and the Grecians protested at the award, but to no avail.
Justice was done when Morgan took the kick, and placed the ball outside the goal.
WHATLEY SAVES FROM VOWLES
Exeter played with re-doubled energy after this, and for a time Bristol were on the defensive. The spectators (apart from those of Exeter's) had a fright when, from a throw-in, Crompton lofted the ball across the field and Dockray, with a flying kick, hoofed the ball just over the crossbar.
The referee's peculiar decision over the matter of the corner kick and the penalty had aroused the hostility of the travelling supporters, and there were loud protesting shouts when Vowles was pulled up for offside. From a centre by Newman the ball sailed high over the bar. Mitton, Stewart and Pollard were all playing the "game of their lives," whilst Rigby and Graham were covering themselves with mud and glory. Newman, with a sparkling run from the hald-way line, raised the hopes of the Exeter section, but Kissock bundled him off the ball and a goal kick resulted. a Graham left the field with his foot injured, but resumed after brief absence. Simms cleared a centre from Congdon, and Vowles, who had strained his leg during the first half, moved to outside with Congdon inside left, and Dockray at centre-forward. There were now less than five minutes remaining, and the City concentrated on defence. A high centre from Walter was punched out by Watson, and in a brief raid at the other end Whatley jumped up to save a header from Vowles, which looked destined for the top corner of the goal. Simms retired, hurt, a minute before time.
NOTES ON THE GAME
The match will be replayed at Exeter on Wednesday. The Rovers were a very strong side, who played with great dash, but they were up against a stonewall defence. The
City full-backs developed a perfect understanding, and the halves showed to better advantage than in any match this season. The attack opened well, but a strained muscle slowed Vowles down, and after the interval the forwards were only seen in flashes.
Reserve Game Friendly
CITY RESERVES v EAST DEVON LEAGUE
While the Chiefs were battling for the right to enter the next round of the Cup, the Reserves entertained a team selected from the East Devon League, at St James's Park, in a "friendly."
Fryer; MacKechnie and Gaskell; Siddall, Brown, and Wilson; Edge, P.Hill, Bullock, J.Green, and Kelland.
Ware; Osborne and Jennings; Cullen, Ousley, and Perry; Hurford, Trout, Harrold, Pyatt, and W.Hill.
Like the "seniors," the Reserves neither won or lost a goal, the East Devon side putting up a very creditable performance. The Reserves, it is true, did the majority of the attacking, but the amateur side offered a stubborn resistance and gave the Grecians more than they bargained for.