Port Vale. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
A STORMY end to a match of vital consequence to both sides produced extraordinary scenes at St James' Park last night when the referee, Bob Hamer, was knocked to the ground after angry fans had invaded the pitch.
Security staff had to pull supporters off the Bristol official, who had caused uproar by awarding Port Vale a controversial last-minute penalty. Exeterwould have been assured of Second Division safety if they had held on to win, while Vale's point gives the Potteries club a better chance of beating Bolton Wanderers to an automatic promotion place.
Exeter seem sure to be in serious trouble with the authorities as will their manager, Alan Ball, who raced on to the pitch on the final whistle seemingly intent on remonstrating with Hamer before he was shepherded away by his coaching staff.
The referee was helped off by police looking shocked. Officials of the West Country club said he had been hit three times and that one of his linesman had also been assaulted.
'All I remember is getting shoved to the ground and then being quickly surrounded by people,' said Hamer, who will make a statement to Exeter police today before sending his report to the Football Association.
Ball later criticised the referee. 'Of course I regret running on to the pitch but this is my life, my club's future as is it is Bolton's future. People's lives hinge on these 90 minutes and again it's been shown that amateurs have an enormous say in this lovely game of ours.
'I was as bad as those fans and I'm probably in enough trouble already. We have worked hard all season, I thought we were safe, and then to have it taken away from you like that makes you really, really mad. Imagine if we go down and Bolton don't go up because of that decision. It's far too important not to get annoyed about.'
Exeter now need to win at Fulham on Saturday to guarantee survival. Vale were hardly happy themselves, a single point leaving them behind Bolton, who entertain Preston on Saturday, while Vale go to Blackpool.
Steve Moran shot Exeter in front in the 49th minute and it seemed to be enough until Scott Daniels was ruled to have pushed Martin Foyle. The clock showed three seconds into injury time when Paul Kerr scored the penalty.
Exeter City: Miller; White, Brown, Bailey, Daniels, Whiston (Minett, 58), Bond, Moran, Jepson, Storer, Hodge. Substitute not used: McIntyre.
Port Vale: Musselwhite; Aspin, Sulley, Porter, Swan (Kent, 62), Glover, Slaven, Van der Laan, Cross (Foyle, 57), Kerr, Taylor.
Referee: B Hamer (Bristol).
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