Team: Shaw, McDonald, Fidler, Morris, Hartwell, Wake, Wyatt, Travers, Steer, Wyman, Barnes
Attendance: 6,000 according to Gordon Macey’s book: ‘The Complete Record’ whereas “about 5,000” was the figure stated in this match report.
Exeter City joined the Southern League in 1908 and that season QPR made their first visit to St. James Park on 24th February 1909. More recently, Rangers ran out 5-0 winners in a Carling Cup tie on 11th August 2009 and the R’s are now set to play a friendly there on 11th July.
The following match report was written by “Linesman” and appeared in the Devon and Exeter Gazette on 14th March 1910:
‘Saturday’s Southern League encounter between Exeter City and Queen’s Park Rangers was productive of far from a sparkling exhibition of football, glimpses of anything approaching brilliant play being few and far between.
At Park Royal earlier in the season, the Rangers were successful by two goals to nil, although on that occasion the Westerners did by far the greater amount of attacking, only to fail in front of goal.
In the interval the Londoners have been going very strongly, and since the opening of the campaign have only sustained four Southern League defeats – three at home and one away – everything at present pointing to their securing the Championship.
It will be thus be seen that Exeter were faced with a fairly tough proposition, but one which they might have successfully surmounted had they shown their best form. The homesters are, however, a team of moods, about the doings of whom it has become really dangerous to prophesy. Drawing a line through the Park Royal form, I looked forward to their being successful on Saturday – and they would have been had the forwards shown anything like ability to make the best of their opportunities.
The City were again minus the services of Chadwick, for whom Ambler deputised at centre-half, while the Rangers were not at full strength, although commanding the services of a strong side. The high wind, supplied with a ground rendered treacherous by recent rain, made the conditions the reverse of favourable to really good football, and, as a consequence, neither side were at their best.
Winning the toss, the Rangers set the City to face the wind, and were the first to assume the aggressive, Travers sending behind with a shot which missed by a foot. Exeter then had a look in, Bell and Garside being prominent, but while the visitors continued to have rather the better of the exchanges.
Speedily warming to their work, however, the homesters bore down on the attack, but Bell missed a great chance by sending high over the bar. Copestake forced the first “corner” of the match after 15 minutes’ play, but Fidler cleared, and Exeter then lost Ambler, who was carried off injured. Despite being a man short, the homesters continued to play five forwards, Watson occasionally dropping back to lend the half-backs a hand. Exeter kept it up, Bell sending a couple of feet wide, while Green did ditto immediately after.
The City were not to have matters all their own way, however, but the home defence was too sound to permit the Rangers becoming really dangerous, and the few shots which Crossthwaite was called upon to stop were, for the most part, sent in at long range, and presented little difficulty.
Play had been in progress just half an hour when Morris luckily got in the way of a shot from Bell, while Shaw had to rush out and punch away from Garside. Considering the wind with which they had to contend, and the nature of the opposition, the homesters were doing very well, except for their old failing of weakness in front of goal. With the return of Ambler, the Rangers’ defence was sorely tested, Shaw being often in the picture.
Green lost an excellent chance through unsteadiness. Close on the interval the Rangers attacked with vigour, and, after Barnes had only just missed, Steer was robbed in the nick of time by Hartley a yard or so from the mouth of goal. Away at the other end, the City were presented with another chance, but Bell could not get his head to the ball in time, and, with the over-ruling of an appeal for “hands” against Wake in the penalty area, half-time arrived with the score sheet blank.
On the resumption the City speedily attacked, and, following good work by Hartley, Bell, and Garside, the latter put across the goal mouth, with Shaw completely beaten. The next minute the Rangers’ custodian saved with Green practically on top of him, while Hartley shot inches wide.
Exeter were now going great guns, but unsteadiness in front of goal continued to be their undoing, while their tactics were frequently the reverse of effective against the visitors’ bustling defence, especially when it is borne in mind that the methods of one or two of the Rangers were not as clean as they might have been.
Suddenly breaking away, the visitors carried war into the home camp, the City goal undergoing the narrowest of escapes when Wake essayed a long “pot”, the ball crashing against one of the uprights and re-bounding across the mouth of goal, with Crossthwaite beaten to the world. Quickly recovering from this fright – it was one, and no mistake – the citizens once more attacked strongly, but, try as they would, could not score, the Rangers ‘ defence coming through the ordeal with flying colours.
Following a spell of fairly even play, in which neither goal was really seriously threatened, Watson got going on the right, passing in to Copestake, for the latter to send to Green, who put in the shot of the match, Shaw saving brilliantly. Another corner then fell to the homesters, but Hartley headed just over the crossbar.
Exciting incidents were now following each other in rapid succession. Crossthwaite saved well from Barnes and then Hartley was responsible for a smart clearance. Away at the other end Hartwell came to the rescue of his side when a score for the City seemed well within the bounds of probability while Shaw was frequently prominent, saving the visitors again and again.
In fact at this period the homesters kept the visitors penned in their own territory and the one and only circumstance which kept them from victory was a combination contributed to by the frequent mistakes of their own forwards and the clever keeping of Shaw. The end eventually arrived with neither side able to claim the advantage. And this was by no means an unfair result, for, although the City deserved to win on their chances, they were up against a defence which gave no quarter, while Shaw was in brilliant form between the sticks.
As I have already said, the game was not productive of a sparling exhibition. The wind and ground conditions was against accurate play, while the respective defences never gave the opposing attack much room or time to shine, both half-back lines successfully laying themselves out for spoiling tactics while the backs were sound.
At the same time, the City forwards cannot be excused for the inability to win the game for their side. Time after time did they come away with threatening movements, only to fizzle out when within striking distance, while there were other occasions when one or other of the quintette received close in only to shoot wide or weakly into Shaw’s hands. It is true that the latter had good shots to save, but they were only a few among the many which the home forwards had opportunities to send in.
“Exeter ought to have won” was a remark one heard from all quarters. True, they did. But they didn’t for the sole and simple reason that the Rangers’ defence was equal to coping with all the demands made upon it, and that the play of the home forwards frequently lacked that finish so essential to goal scoring’
“Linesman” then continues to write about the performance of the Exeter players. He mentions that the home side had played with ten men for 20 minutes whilst Ambler was off the field and he concluded his report as follows:
‘With the Rangers, chief honours went to the defence. Shaw was great in goal, his save from Green being one of the very few brilliant things of which the game was productive. Fidler was a better back than MacDonald, (McDonald), both did well, although they at times showed a tendency to resort to tactics not of the fairest.
The half-backs played a rare worrying game, but some of their methods failed to commend themselves to the crowd. Hartwell, the centre-half, was the greatest offender in this respect, his treatment of Watson being frequently the reverse of sportsmanlike. Wake, who was last season with the City, was the best of the line, but his heading of the ball at times left room for improvement.
As to the forwards, their chances to score were rare, but Steer more than once gave the crowd some idea of what he might have done had he not been so closely marked.
The crowd had their money’s worth, but would have naturally been more pleased had the City won, as they certainly should have done, considering the many chances which came their way. The attendance numbered about 5,000.’
My thanks to Colin (ESSEXURs) for sending me the report and also, as always, to our Club Historian, Gordon Macey.