Classic Match | Leicester City 1981

Much has been made of City’s demolishing of Newcastle United on their way to the FA Cup quarter-finals in 1981, but an equally magical evening occurred on the 28th of January of that year when the Grecians took on Leicester City in a 4th round replay at St James Park.

With the rematch coming just four days after the original 1-1 draw at Filbert Street, Foxes manager Jock Wallace shuffled the pack by making several changes to his line-up. For City it was just one change - and an enforced one at that - which saw university student Ian Main replace Len Bond in goal after City’s regular keeper injured his hand in the warm-up.

Despite his inexperience, Main, as well as the rest of the City team, rose to the occasion, and had you not known any better you would have thought that it was the boys in red and white who where the first division team.

Tony Kellow in particular was on top of his game, as the City’s talisman emphasised his claim to be one of the country’s top goal scorers. Leicester found Kellow a handful right from the star, and it was a foul on him in the 10th minute which led to the first goal as Dave Pullar ran on to Phil Robert’s free kick and pulled the ball back for Kellow to score with a perfectly placed drive.

The goal put City in control of the game, and Brian Godfrey’s well-drilled side were looking comfortable until an unfortunate error from Main – his only blip in an otherwise solid performance – allowed Jim Melrose to tap home the equaliser.

Leicester may well have thought that they would go on to win the match from there, but, just eight minutes later, Peter Rogers was tripped in the box, providing Kellow with the opportunity to double both his and the teams score.

Facing the Big-Bank, Kellow showed not an ounce of nerve as he waited for order to be restored, and he left the Leicester keeper and captain Mark Wallington no chance at all with the ferocious drive that ripped into the top left-hand corner of the net.

Kellow completed his personal triumph, and his third hat-trick of the season, with a brilliant opportunistic goal five minutes from the end, as he took a flick-on from Peter Rogers and drove the ball, first time, through a crowd of defenders to seal Leicester’s fate with his 25th goal of the season.

In all Kellow would score 33 goals during that memorable campaign, which made him the top-scoring player in all four divisions of the English Football League, and the second highest scorer in all of Europe.


Final Score: ECFC 3 LCFC 1

Exeter City: Main, M Rogers, Hatch, Forbes, L Roberts, P Roberts, Prince, P Rogers, Kellow, Delve, Pullar (Pratt)

Leicester City: Wallington, Williams, Friar, May, O’Neill, Byrne, Peake (Goodwin), Wilson, MacDonald, Melrose, Young

Man of the match: Tony Kellow

Attendance: 15,268


Written by: Will Barrett

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