The report of the Wednesday 11 November 1908 Southern League match between Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle and published in the Devon and Exeter Gazette on Thursday 12 November is as follows:-
EXETER CITY DEFEAT PLYMOUTH ARGYLE.
A GREAT GAME.
The meeting of the two Devonshire teams in the Southern League, at Exeter, yesterday afternoon, was productive of a strenuous struggle, from which the best side emerged victorious. As I mentioned yesterday morning, the past League performances of both Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle left little to choose between them but I ventured to prophesy that, considering Argyle would not able to place their full strength in the field, and that Exeter would have the advantage of playing at home, the City should not just win. And this proved to be the case, for when the final whistle went the Citizens were winners by two goals to one.
The game was witnessed by a crowd of about 8000, and from start to finish excitement ran high in both camps, the visitors having brought a large number of supporters with them. Both goals were frequently in danger, play being rapidly carried from end to end, and, although of a strenuous nature, was brimful of interest. Taken right through the home homesters had the larger share of the game, but Plymouth were decidedly unlucky, having to play with but practically 10 men in the second half, while against a less sound defence their effort in the concluding few minutes must have resulted in a score.
From the start, Exeter attacked, but were speedily driven back, and “hands” against Bulcock and a mistake by Craig very nearly resulted in disaster. The next few minutes saw play rapidly carried up and down the field, and Robinson was first tested with a soft shot from Wilcox, when placed. An anxious moment or ensued for the homesters, but the defence was equal to the occasion, and away they rushed to the other end, where Sutcliffe saved grandly. Bell then shot wide, while the next incident was a dash up the left by Holden, from whose centre Ingham only just failed to head through. Robinson saved cleverly, and then White brought Sutcliffe to his knees, but the Plymothian cleared under difficulties.
Both sides were now all out to score, but the homesters were having the best of the argument, and might with a little luck, have scored on might, with a little luck have scored on more than one occasion. McGuigan was a bit too slow when well placed, however, while Sutcliffe ,was ever there to avert danger. Ten minutes before the arrival of the interval the Argyle custodian was practically beaten but, Watson was a little over anxious, and fouled him when the goal appeared at his mercy.
Success was not long to be denied the citizens. Just when the spectators were expecting the half-time whistle to go, and play was hovering dangerously near the Exeter goal, Bell was seen to break away. Down the field he came with the ball at his toes, beat the Plymouth backs, and finished up a brilliant individual effort with a shot which gave Sutcliffe no chance. And so Exeter gave Sutcliffe no chance. And so Exeter crossed over with a lead of one goal to nil.
Immediately after the restart, Bell was nearly through again, while Watson followed this up by forcing a “corner” from which the first-named player headed just over. Exeter were now “top-dog” and the Plymouth goal underwent several narrow escapes. For a moment the visitors raised the siege, and from a “free” Ingham headed inches over the bar, Again attacking McGuigan and Watson had hard lines.
Play had resumed 20 minutes when the homesters’ second goal came. White, who had repeatedly doing pretty work on the right, sent across to Copestake, who in turn, put in a slow dropping shot. Sutcliffe was there to meet it, but Bell was on him like a flash, and the City were two up. The best five minutes saw Exeter nearly score again, but a change then came over the game.
Plymouth. who had been playing the second half with but practically ten men – McCormick’s injury rendering him of little use, were by no means done with, and woke up in surprising fashion. With their forwards close on the Exeter citadel, the ball came back to Clark who took a shot from 25 yards out. Both he and the ball were obscured from Robinson’s vision by the forwards, and the leather sailed in to the corner of the net, the City custodian not being given the ghost of a chance of saving.
From now to the finish they sustained a hot attack, and the prospects of their effecting a draw were by no means remote. Just on the call of time Robinson brought off the save of the match – fisting out a hot shot, it was driven back at him, and before he could clear the Plymouth forwards were into him “all of a heap”. For a moment there was a struggling mass of humanity right in the mouth of goal, but the home custodian clung to his charge, and, being fouled, the siege was raised. Time then came with Exeter victorious by two goals to one.
Exeter thoroughly deserved their victory, which places them a point above their Devonshire rivals in the Southern League table. From the start it was evident they were out to win, and on the run of play were worth more than a goal to the good at half-time. The same tale may be told of the first 25 minutes of the second moiety, and then came the surprising revival of the visitors, which very nearly resulted in their effecting a draw. In goal Robinson turned up trumps, and no one was more pleased to see this than myself. Yesterday morning I took the directors to task for substituting him for Fletcher, considering they were running a big risk in dropping a player with whose present form they were thoroughly acquainted and satisfied, for one who had not been seen in first-class football for some time. I still maintain that it was a risk. Robinson was in tip-top form, showed that he is still an artiste in goal, and the brilliant save he effected in the last minute of the game was one which would have been accomplished by few keepers. As to the goal scored by Plymouth, the home custodian had absolutely no chance of stopping it.
Bulcock once more showed himself worthy of being included among the best backs in the League, whilst Craig, after an early mistake, played a sound game. Among the half-backs Chadwick was the start performer, but both Amber and Johsnson were sound. Bell wasd the best of the forwards, but was run very close by White, who is deputising Parnell in a manner which should result in his retention in the team. Of course, Parnell must come back, but it is equally certain that White’s present form is such that he cannot be spared. Watson was responsible for much good work, but McGuigan appeared somewhat slow in the early stages of the game, whilst Copestake, as in one or two recent matches was not quite so effective as might have been wished.
Of the Plymouth team Sutcliffe was the hero, bringing off some brilliant saves. Atterbury and Cudlipp came well though a heavy ordeal, while Clark was the pick of the half-backs. Holden was far away the best forward, and, in the opinion of many, the best on the field. The injury to McCormick was unfortunate, especially as he had only just recovered from being “crocked” at Watford.
The lead up to the match can be found at http://www.exeweb.com/2015/02/17/exeter-city-v-plymouth-argyle-our-first-league-meeting-in-1908-pt-1/