Match 02
20th August 1977
Walsall (a)

Walsall 1, Exeter City 3
Commentary by Tony Phillips 

EXETER CITY celebrated their return to the Third Division for the first time in 13 years in outstanding style in the Midlands this afternoon when they beat the experienced and much fancied Walsall side 3-1 to start of this new era for the St. James's Park club. Alan Beer (2) and Tony Kellow were the scoring heroes, but in front of a crowd of 5,174 this was a fine opening for the team and what a result to boost Exeter's hopes even more of overcoming Plymouth in next week's League Cup replay with Aston Villa being the big bait at the end of the line for the winners.
There were no late changes in an Exeter side that was facing an experienced Walsall team. The Midland team featured such names as Mick Kearns, Roger Hynd, Henry Newton, Mick Bates, Alun Evans, and Alan Buckley. Evans joined Walsall three seasons ago from Aston Villa, having previously been the first £100,000 teenage signing for Liverpool. Alongside him was leading scorer, Alan Buckley, and also included in the Walsall side was Mick Bates, a £25,000 signing from Leeds a season ago. They also had Henry Newton in the team, and just to emphasise the list their sub stitute was Kelvin Clarke, the younger brother of the famous Alan Clarke.
Broke down
Two promising Exeter moves broke down as they moved forward in the opening minutes, and then Walsall con ceded a corner following a bad back-pass from Caswell. Jennings swung in the cross, but the corner was retaken and this time Kearns took the ball out from under his bar. When Walsall moved forward, they wasted a free kick when they were penalised for an infringement in the Exeter area, and then when Hore failed to control the ball, Shelton dragged his shot wide of the near post. Then a mistake by Saxton let in Shelton in the 10th minute. and the Walsall player was left with a chance, but Baugh dived to his right to push the shot away to safety.
City in front
Already the Exeter supporters who had made the trip were giving their side plenty of encouragement-and in the 11th minute up went the cheers when Exeter took the lead. Kellow set up the goal in a move down the right and when he pushed the ball through, BEER moved forward to crack in a superb right-foot shot into the far corner of the net. Back came Exeter again and Kellow was just wide of the target. It was certainly all-action Exeter at this stage and two minutes later Beer set up another City move and from it Kellow hit the post with his shot.
Both Hatch and Hore conceded free kicks in quick succession, but these failed to gain Walsall any advantage. Out came Baugh to beat Evans to the bounce. However Exeter most certainly had some scares. Birch weaved himself through with another opening, but shot wide and as Walsall continued to do most of the pressing, Bowker was deep inside his own area to knock a short pass back to Baugh. Exeter, however, were work ing so hard and sticking to their task and it was now a question of holding and con solidating that fine start.
Beer again
Exeter, however, withstood this Walsall pressure and, in the 37th minute struck with their second goal. It came following a long clearance by Baugh; this was flicked on by Kellow, and BEER shrugged off all the efforts of Serella to get in behind the centre defender and hook the ball into the net.
Had he not scored, in fact, I was left wondering whether Exeter would not have been awarded a penalty because there certainly seemed to be
obstruction by the Walsall defender.

What a first half, though, for Exeter against such formidable opposition, and at half-time up went the cheers from the Exeter supporters of City, City City."
Half time: Walsall 0-2 Exeter City 
  • Speculation about Leicester City possibly watching Alan Beer increased at Walsall this afternoon.
    Following my story that Leicester manager, Frank Mc Lintock, was at Plymouth earlier in the week, the Mid land club had their chief scout, Ray Shaw, watching the Walsall match and he saw Beer get both Exeter goals in the first half.

A quick break by Exeter caught Walsall exposed as Kel low made a run down the right. Beer was unmarked through the middle, but when the Cornish striker tried to cross, the pass was blocked. Walsall's early attempts to pull back a quick goal were easily cut out, both by their own undoing and by the fact that the City's defence once played the off-side trap to perfection. After 63 minutes Walsall brought on substitute Clarke for Shelton, but by now surely it was a case of Exeter just keeping their heads to get away to a magnificent start. In fact, Exeter almost went further head in the 65th minute. Kellow made a fine run and when he chipped the ball to Beer the little striker's effort was somehow kept out by Kearns. Baugh climbed above Buckley to take out the danger, and then Exeter completely exposed Walsall as Beer raced through and looked likely to clinch his hat-trick. He made a superb run as he beat the Walsall defence, but then saw shot blocked. Still it was Exeter, and particularly Beer, going at Walsall, and Beer had a shot headed out by Newton. Then, following a long throw by Hatch, the ball was flicked on and in a desperate scramble Kearns just clutched it off the line. Certainly with a little more further ahead as the twin striking power of Beer and Kellow caused Walsall so many problems. In the 77th minute, Hatch saved Exeter when he hooked the ball off the line from Buckley's header. In the 85th minute, KELLOW increased Exeter's lead follow sing a cross by Hodge, and two minutes from the end Walsall pulled a goal back through Taylor. The Walsall goal followed a move down the right and I ended with full-back TAYLOR scoring with a fierce, high cross shot into the far corner.



Allowed tags: <p>, <a>, <em>, <strong>, <ul>, <ol>, <li>