ECFC v Plymouth 01.01.80
ECFC 2-2 Plymouth
Scorers: Hatch, P. Rogers
FOR once just about everyone agreed - a draw was a fair result. Exeter City manager Brian Godfrey said so; Plymouth Argyle's boss Bobby Saxton was happy to accept it; and surely no-one in the massive St. James's Park crowd of 10,489 could have grumbled at the 2-2 scoreline after the first Devon "derby" of the new decade.
But, while the result was satisfactory enough, the entertainment and
excitement left a little to be desired. For most part the match was a story of two teams knowing each other too well, but it did have a touch of the fairytale about it as well, The former Exeter star, Colin Randell, provided his own happy ending — if not everyone else's by banging in two superb second-half goals to earn Plymouth a point which at one stage had seemed way beyond their grasp. Randell, one of the quiet men of Westcountry football, was in no mood to crow afterwards. "I enjoy scoring goals wherever I get them," was all he would say If there was any antagonism over Randell's controversial summer transfer, it was all forgotten with each manager taking the trouble to point out the qualities of the other's team at the post-match inquest. "If Plymouth continue to battle like that, they will have no trouble in staying in the Third Division. In fact, I think they will finish in the top half of the table," said City's Brian Godfrey. Bobby Saxton was even more complimentary about his former club. "Exeter must be in with a chance of promotion," he said. "They are not out of it yet by any manner of means. "I thought that today both teams tended to cancel each other out, but it was a fascinating game in many wavs." Exeter were given the perfect start to the 1980s with a goal after only four minutes. Between them Keith Bowker and Peter Rogers managed to work the ball out to the left of the penalty area where Peter Hatch stormed in to strike a left-foot shot past a helpless Geoff Crudgington. City could and should have sewn the game up with a second goal 15 minutes later when Steve Neville curled in a superb cross to set up a superb chance for Bowker. But Bowker miskicked and John Sims was able to clear off the line. For the rest of the first half City seemed content to surrender the iniative and go on the defensive. Dave Pullar had been given the job of marking Argyle's dangerman Kevin Hodges and so Exeter were really left with only men in midfield. For all their pressure, Plymouth seldom looked like penetrating City's defensive barrier and in fact it was Exeter who created the better chances with Neville squandering a particularly good opportunity after Rogers had set him up. In the end, it took a terrible defensive error from Forbes Phillipson-Masters to give City their second goal three minutes after half- time. His backpass was easily intercepted by Rogers and although Crudgington saved his first effort, Rogers was able to scramble to his feet to prod home the rebound. It should have been the signal for Exeter to coast to their fifth consecutive victory, but inexplicably they again went back into their shell and for the first time the effects of the mystery bug which struck five of the players, on Monday started to show through. Dave Pullar and Tony Mitchell, who was eventually substituted, both seemed to be struggling, and Plymouth came right back into the match. But it still needed the shooting power of Randell to bring them a point. After 60 minutes, he seized on a partially cleared corner from Leigh Cooper to hit a low shot into the net to make it 2-1. Then with just 12 minutes remaining completed his solo revival act by striking a stunning 25-yard drive into the roof of the net.