Match 37
3rd March 1973
Crewe Alexandra (h)

3rd March 1973
Football League
Exeter 0-0 Crewe Alexandra.

Exeter City: Wilson, Blain, Stacey, Wingate, Giles, Clapham, Neale, Binney, Plumb, Morrin, Gibson. Sub Crawford.

Crewe : Crudgington, Lowry, Kelley, Bradshaw, Nicholls, Gillett, Jones, Nicholl, Stephens, Humphreys, Riley. Sub: Fellows.

Referee: Mr. A. R. Lees (Strett).

ALTHOUGH their performance improved considerably after a dismal first half, Exeter City failed to crack through in this afternoon's Division 4 game at St. James's Park. The City had to settle for a 0-0 draw and, although Crewe's goalkeeper, Geoff Crudginton, was outstanding, Exeter missed chances, and their overall performance lacked was needed if they are to gain promotion.

There were no late changes in the Exeter side, but Crewe preferred Alan Stephens to Greg Fellows, who was sub. A quick break by City almost paid off at Morrin played a long through ball to Nealė. Unfortunately, the striker was fractionally offside as he darted clear. When Stacey broke down the right, he was brought down just outside the area, but the free- kick was wasted. A mix-up between Wilson and Blain almost brought disaster for the City, but the goalkeeper rescued the situation from Nicholl. The opening 10 minutes were uninspiring, and at this stage Crewe were not as defensive as might have been expected. Both sides were giving the ball away, and so far that quick goal that Exeter badly needed had not looked like coming. It was a scrappy affair, and when Gibson hit a long ball for Neale, Crudgington was on the edge of his area to take the ball. There was a lack of method, but Crewe almost went ahead in the 19th minute. Blain's clearance was blocked by Humphreys, and he went on down the right to hit a low cross shot that Wilson did well to save as he dropped quickly at the near post. The game was still lacking in construction, and at times the ball seemed like a hot potato for some players. Wilson had to move smartly off his line to cut out a decep- tive cross from Humphreys. Crewe had looked the more dangerous side, and Nicholl pushed his angled shot just wide of the far post following a good ball from Riley. When Crewe were under any pressure, they shuffled back to mass in defence. Neale showed his acceleration down the left, but was bundled off the ball. Nothing came of the free-kick, however, Then the City won a corner. but Crudgington took out the cross at the second attempt. Up went Blain for an overlap down the left. His cross found Plumb, but he swung wildly and missed. Then Nicholls was booked after bringing down Gibson but again the free-kick was cleared. If ever a game needed a goal, this was it. Crewe were putting their game together better than Exeter, who were not stringing enough together. Just before half-time, the City might have taken the lead. From Stacey's free-kick, Gibson flicked the ball on to Neale. The striker aimed his shot at the near post where Crudgington saved, despite fumbling the ball. Then Stacey fed Plumb, who was free and onside. Plumb cut in from the right, but his shot was scrambled away by Crudgington. Suddenly, the game had burst into action for a few minutes.

Half-time: Exeter City 0, Crewe 0.

No doubt manager John Newman had some hard things to say at half-time. He did not look at all happy on returning his dugout for the second- half. An early City free-kick was cleared, but Crewe were still looking more dangerous when going forward. Neale chased a long ball down the right and won a corner. A second followed, and this time Giles was penalised. When Blain failed to control a crossfield pass, Crewe quickly pounced, but Nicholl was just offside. The crowd began to slow handclap for a short period but applauded Binney when he raced free and brought a good, full-length save out of Crudgington. Then Binney, on the turn. shot wide as Neale was about to aim a shot. Quick on the break Exeter were now beginning to pressurise with authority, and they more they had a chance when Plumb moved down the right. He crossed from the by-line, but Binney's header was straight at the well- positioned Crudgington. Crewe, however, were quick on the break and from one of the situations Jones fed Humphreys, who hit his left-footed shot too high. Clapham and Neale tried to set up Binney, but the striker was outnumbered. Then, following a cross by Gibson, Wingate headed headed the ball back across the edge of the area and Binney volleyed his shot yards wide. Hard-working Neale did well to fight back and win the ball after being robbed. For his effort, the City had a free kick, but again the Crewe defence cleared without any bother. Exeter could not be faulted as far as effort was concerned. They were working hard enough, but there football was not convincing. A long clearance by Wilson had the Crewe defence in all kinds of trouble as Binney chased the ball. Binney was heavily brought down two yards outside the Crewe area, but Morrin hit his left-footed free-kick over the top. Crewe went close to scoring in the 74th minute following a corner. They played a short one, and when Jones crossed, Riley almost kneed the ball into the net. The Exeter players almost had something to celebrate in the 80th minute when Plumb breasted the ball down, moved inside, and hit a low shot on the turn but the ball went inches wide of the far post with Crudgington beaten. Exeter were now doing virtually all the attacking and their game had improved from the first half. But they still missed some chances. It was all Exeter as they who piled on the pressure, but Crudgington was having a fine for Crewe.

Attendance 5,731.



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