Match 39
20th March 1954
Coventry City (h)

Southern League
Merthyr Reserves (a)

23rd March 1954
Benefit Match for Stan Rowe
Exeter City v Bristol Rovers




by Lionel Wotton
TWO of the five changes in Exeter City's team against Coventry City at St. James's Park to-day were due to players having recovered from injury. Dick Walton returned after a month's absence, while Angus Mackay reappeared at inside left after missing the Bournemouth game last week. All departments except goal were affected by the reshuffle, and the most interesting alteration was at right-half, where Arnold Mitchell took over from John Owens. Although Mitchell joined the City as a wing-forward, his best games have been in the half-back line. Exeter, whose last home victory was an only-goal affair against Newport County on January 23rd, badly needed another win. In the Coventry side, Jamieson displaced Worman.
The Line-up

City: Kelly: Walton, Rowe: Mitchell, Davey. Dodgin; Priestley, Ellaway, Donaldson, Mackay, Parker.
Coventry: Taylor; Kimmins, Kirk: Simpson, McDonnell, Austin: Nutt, Jamieson, Brown, Waldock, Hill.J
Referee: G. Sawyer, Weston-super-Mare.

Coventry kicked off, and were dangerous when Davey mistimed a spinning ball. This gave Brown a possible chance, but his weak shot caused no trouble. Offside held up Coventry a minute later, and then a perfect pass from Dodgin set the City's attack in motion to force the first corner of the match. Priestley's flag kick was cleared. and the ball was difficult to control in the strong cross-wind. After Jamieson had shot wide in a Coventry raid. Exeter took an early lead, through Donaldson. The home centre-forward shot from long range, and the ball was deflected to the left by a defender. On came Parker, as goalkeeper Taylor advanced. The winger got his kick in, and DONALDSON, taking deliberate alm, calmly shot into the net. Threatening Coventry attacks were beaten back by a determined defence in which Rowe, Mitchell, and Kelly excelled.

Kelly in form
Kelly fisted out a nasty centre from Hill, and afterwards showed split second anticipation by dropping to clutch a shot from Brown, which had been deflected by a defender. Neat touches by Ellaway, and Speedy thrusts by Priestley, were the best features of Exeter's retaliatory raids. The outside-right made one thrilling run nearly half the length of the field, but was foiled by the on rushing Taylor, who booted to safety. Brilliant work by Mitchell, who not only tackled firmly, but pin pointed his passes, kept the City on top for a spell,and in thrilling attacks, Donaldson had a forceful header smartly saved by Taylor. Then a grand cross by Mitchell dropped in the goal area and the visiting defence was lucky to scramble out of a desperate skirmish. Coventry's early sparkle was dimmed and the initiative had undoubtedly passed to Exeter at this stage.

Donaldson again
Persistent pressure brought a second goal to Exeter in the 27th minute, and it was due to a defensive blunder in which Taylor and Kirk were the culprits. A shot from Mackay had been partially blocked. In the mix-up which followed the visiting goalkeeper and left-back failed to clear. so leaving DONALDSON with an un expected opportunity. Again, the centre-forward made no mistake. A low shot into the far corner of the net was just the tonic the crowd needed. The game continued to be crammed with exciting incidents,and where Exeter held an advantage was in defensive steadiness. Coventry's greatest danger came from the fleet-footed Brown, who centred for Waldock to tear in and head wide. Within a minute. Mackay was streaking through, and a grand effort ended with a cross shot which rose inches above the cross bar with Taylor beaten.
-Then Parker
As the interval drew near, the City increased their lead. Priestley and Donaldson combined, and the movement looked to have broken down when the ball rolled slowly across the goal-mouth with no other forward in position to apply the final touch. Simpson had all the time imagin able to have kicked to safety, instead he foolishly took the ball towards the left, and reckoned with out PARKER, who ran in, and dis possessed his opponent before kick ing into the net.

Priestley's persistence pleased the crowd, and Rowe held up Hill when the Coventry winger looked dangerous. Coventry's defence continued to be shaky, and the visiting side almost conceded another goal when, from Priestley's centre. Mackay turned and shot. Taylor was taken by surprise, and fortunate to catch the ball as it re. bounded from the crossbar. A foul on the goalkeeper ended the attack.
Mackay dribble
Mackay had the crowd roaring when he dribbled two-thirds. the length of the field Challenged by Kirk, he centred. and a fourth goal would have been a certainty had the other forwards displayed keenness in following up.
Donaldson made the shot of the match just after. From Mackay's pass he beat McDonnell, advanced to the edge of the penalty area, and drove in at terrific speed. If ever an effort had the goal look this one did until Taylor leapt to make a wonder save at the expense of a corner. Coming into the middle, Parker lost possession, and Coventry were swift to transfer the scene of activity. In fact, they almost reduced the lead when Hill drove across the goal to Mutt, whose shot was kicked from the goal-line by Davey-a dramatic movement. The standard deteriorated into an end-of-season scramble. Exeter seemed content to hold their lead. Coventry, while showing craft, possessed little punch.

Dodgin's first

Priestley made another good run and finished with a centre from which Parker's first-time shot sped inches wide of the far post. Other City attacks troubled Taylor, who was forced to save strong shots from Priestley and Mitchell in turn. Two minutes from the end DODGIN scored his first goal for the City. He owed his chance to a perfect opening created by Ellaway. who took the ball down and passed squarely, with the Coventry defence wide open. Dodgin went through at will, and his accurate shot from 12 yards gave Taylor no chance.


The City came back to winning ways to-day, when, aided by de fensive errors by their opponents, they made sure of victory in the first half. By far the better football came before the interval. In this phase of the match the exchanges were fast and entertaining But afterwards play deteriorated into a scramble. Arnold Mitchell proved in this match that wing-half-back is his best position. Not only was he a good tackler, but his passes were accurately made. In the forward line, Priestley showed plenty of thrust on the right wing, and Ellaway, a rapidly im proving player, was often prominent for intelligent ball distribution. Exeter's defence was far superior to an erratic Coventry rearguard.

Southern League

EXETER made five changes from the advertised side for their game against Merthyr Tydfil, the Southern League leaders. With Merthyr hammering straight into the attack, the City Reserves were soon defending grimly, but in a sudden breakaway young Maurice Setters brought 'keeper Sellick to his knees with a vicious drive. At the other end Singleton was quickly in action when he was called on to deal with shots from ex- Welsh international Squires and winger Davies. Exeter hammered back full of fire and again Setters let fly to send the ball skimming only inches the wrong side of the upright The City had a slice of luck after ten minutes when Merthyr centre forward Jarman appeared to flick the ball just over the Exeter goal line. But like lightning Keith Harvey went in to clear and both sides appealed to the referee, The Welshmen's claim for a goal was disallowed and the City survived the subsequent bounce-up which restarted play in their goalmouth. Left-back Doyle was the hext to clear off Exeter's danger line, and 60 seconds later, Jarman hit the cross-bar with Singleton helpless. But the City 'keeper saved magnifi cently as the all-out offensive con tinued. He had the crowd roaring by taking the ball straight from the toes of Jarman as the Merthyr leader was about to shoot from six yards' range. Just before the interval, Exeter fought back in grand style to force two corners in quick succession with McClelland coming close to snatch ing the lead.

Second-half scorer was LOWE for Merthyr.




Exeter City 0 -1 BRISTOL ROVERS (Meyer)

Half-time City 0 Rovers 0.

Exeter City:- Kelly; Storey, Rowe; Mitchell, Davey, Dodgin; Priestley, Ellaway, Donaldson, Mackay, Parker.

Bristol Rovers:- Anderson; Alcock, Edwards; Cairney, Muir, Sampson; Petherbridge, Meyer, Lambden, Ovingdon, Hooper.

2nd half: Ovingdon (Rovers) substituted by Hale.


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