A lucrative Third Round tie may be on the horizon if Exeter City can beat League One Gillingham in the FA Cup this weekend.
It’s been over eight years since the Grecians last took to the Priestfield pitch, but that classic encounter between the two sides brings back many happy memories for City fans.
Jed Penberthy recalls.
Gillingham 2-3 Exeter City, Npower League Two
November 19, 2012
Unbeaten in three, Exeter travelled to Kent on the back of an impressive win at Bradford the Saturday before, though Gillingham were unbeaten in the last three against City.
One solitary change for the Devon club had Tommy Doherty restored for the rested John O’Flynn who couldn’t make the bench.
Gillingham topped the table going into this fixture and showed their might in the opening exchanges. Matt Fish looped an effort goalwards, which Artur Krysiak safely (?) watched onto top of the crossbar.
Soon After though the Gills were ahead. Charlie Allen played a piercing ball through the heart of the City defence and Chris Whelpdale beat Krysiak to the ball to notch Gillingham in front.
Exeter were knocking on the door of the play-offs ahead of this one and needed quality to get back into the game. Alan Gow was always capable of the spectacular, and it was the Scotsman’s magic which brought City level.
After winning a free kick thirty yards out, Gow decided to go for goal. The left foot drive didn’t give Stuart Nelson a chance as the ball nestled in the top right corner cueing a few murmurs of applause from the home end too.
Doherty smartly denied a Gills header off the line and Allen went close, heading just wide as the teams went in level at half time.
After the break, the game began to open up. City worked a short corner on the right, for Gow to whip a cross into the six-yard box. Whelpdale failed to control it and the ball fell to 37-year-old Jamie Cureton who smashed the ball into the roof of the net. Looking back now, I did ‘Psy’ at his Gangnam Style celebration, but who cared? City were in front!
Coincidently Jamie Cureton is still playing football at semi-pro level. In September Curo became player/manager for Essex Senior League side Enfield and is also the only player to score in all top nine levels of English football.
Gillingham responded as league leaders would. Half time substitute Miles Weston’s pace cause problems down the left flank putting in several crosses which the nervy Exeter defence had to deal with smartly.
With eleven minutes to go though Gillingham did break the Grecians resistance. A loose ball by Scot Bennett in midfield was pounced upon by Danny Jackman. The Gills full back put his head down and produced an unstoppable piledriver into the top corner.
On 86 minutes City had the chance to regain the advantage. Substitute Jimmy Keohane was bundled over in the box and referee Darren Deadman had no hesitation pointing to the spot. Nelson read Curo’s mind though and the striker’s penalty was saved. Chance gone for City.
But not for long.
Just a minute later Alan Gow broke free in midfield and played Jimmy Keohane. The Irishman found Cureton on the edge and after a few hefty challenges the ball worked itself wide to Liam Sercombe. An inch perfect ball into the box found Jamie Cureton unmarked, and the veteran went from zero-to-hero to snatch all three points against the league leaders.
The heavens were open in Kent but it certainly didn’t dampen the Grecians mood. The battling performance took Exeter into the play-offs all but briefly, ending the season in 10th. This was just a blip for Gillingham and they would finish the season as champions.
Gillingham: Nelson, Jackman, Barrett, Davies, Fish, Lee (Weston 46’), Allen, Whelpdale, Montrose (Vincelot 60’), Strevens (Kedwell 70’), Burton
Unused: Forecast, Essam, Frampton, Birchall.
Exeter: Krysiak, Woodman, Coles, Baldwin, Tully, Bennett, Oakley, Doherty (Keohane 84’), Sercomber, Gow, Cureton (Chamberlain 90’)
Unused: Evans, Moore-Taylor, Amankwaah, Dawson, Nichols.
Referee: Darren Deadman