8th March 1980
ECFC v Hull City
ECFC 2-2 Hull City
Exeter Scorers: Giles, Pullar
Match Report by MARTYN DEAN
Exeter City's manager Brian Godfrey has signed a new striker to boost his side's flagging promotion hopes. Godfrey completed the £10,000 transfer of Ray Pratt from Merthyr Tydfil in the face of competition from Second Division Notts County and Cardiff City. Pratt had in fact already had talks with Notts County, but Exeter had the advantage of being first in with their offer and Godfrey was able to persuade the 24-year- old striker that his future lay at St. James's Park.
Godfrey travelled to South Wales yesterday for initial talks with Pratt and brought him back to Exeter with him. After further talks this morning, Pratt was given a medical before signing on the dotted line this afternoon. "He has been scoring a lot of goals in non-League football in the same way as Tony Kellow and Alan Beer did," said Godfrey. "If he proves to be anything like as good as they were, then he will obviously be a good buy." Pratt already has 36 goals to his credit this season. At 5ft. 9in., he is not the big man that City have been looking for and Godfrey hinted that if the right player became available, he could make further moves into the transfer market before this week's deadline. Meanwhile, City could help to clear the decks for Pratt's arrival by transferring Ian Pearson to Wimbledon. Pearson travelled to London today for talks with Wimbledon's manager Dario Gradi, but it is by no means certain that he will sign. City will not be asking any fee for Pearson, who cost a record £25,000 when he was signed from Millwall 18 months' ago.
City's need for new blood was perfectly illustrated with the dropping of another precious home point in a 2-2 draw against Hull on Saturday. Fortunately Exeter are still in touch with the lead- ers, although their chances of going up are beginning to look more and more remote. That City are still in the promotion race at all is a tribute to the inconsistency of others rather than to any major effort on their part. Indeed if the top teams continue to throw away points in the manner they have been, promotion could well be won by default. City's inept performance against one of the worst teams to visit St. James's Park this season left Godfrey in despairing mood afterwards.
"We have to beat teams like that," he said. "They had two efforts at goal all match and scored from both of them."
To be fair City did not create that many chances themselves despite having enough possession to make Hull wonder whether the ball was the personal prop- erty of their opponents. But if they want to be considered as serious promotion contenders, they have to seize on opportunities when they arise. Steve Neville and Peter Rogers both had excellent chances to sew the game up before half-time, but as on so many previous occasions this season, the spirit was willing but the finishing was weak. Jimmy Giles had shown the strikers how to do it with his second goal in as many games when he headed home a 17th minute cross from John Delve. A bad defensive error by goalkeeper Ian Main allowed Keith Edwards to equalise just after half-time, but Dave Pullar looked to have sewed the game up for City when he slotted home a cross from Rogers minutes from time. But Exeter's inability to concentrate until the final whistle cost the, dearly again when Edwards equal- ised in injury time after the City defence had made only a half-hearted attempt to move out and catch him offside.