Mellor 3 Ward 4

One of Brighton’s most memorable games of the 1976/77 season was the 7-0 slaughtering of Walsall. Here’s the match programme:

walsall

The sensational result was all the sweeter as the Saddlers had become bit of bogey side. In 1974/75, Brighton suffered a 6-0 drubbing at Fellows Park before Walsall did the league double over Peter Taylor’s men the following season.

Things did not look promising at the Goldstone on 5th October 1976 when the players left for the interval with the match scoreless. However, as Nigel Clarke of the Daily Mirror reported, lethal Brighton looked a different side after Alan Mullery’s half-time team talk:

The 'boy wonder' Ward

The ‘boy wonder’ Ward

Peter Ward grabbed four goals last night and lan Mellor three as Brighton blitzed their way back to the top of the Third Division.

All the goals came in a sensational second half as Brighton turned on their second seven-goaI romp in three weeks – York were their other victims.

Ward, 21, is rapidly emerging as a £250,000 transfer target. A professional, for just four months, he has now scored fifteen times in seventeen League games.

He began his League career last March and scored with his first kick in his first match.

Now with eleven goals already this season, Ward has the sprinkle of stardust all over him.

Watched by West Ham manager Ron Greenwood, he and Mellor were superb.

Said Brighton manager Alan Mullery: “I have never seen finishing quite like that. Both lads were tremendous. It was the most magnificent second half of football I’ve ever seen.”

In the fifty-first minute the flood of goals began. Ward cleverly juggled an opening for Peter O’Sullivan whose fierce shot was pushed out by keeper Mick Kearns. But there was Mellor to knock the rebound from close range.

Ian 'Spider' Mellor

Ian ‘Spider’ Mellor

Five minutes later Brian Horton robbed Alun Evans, ran 40 yards and slipped the ball to Ward, who scored with a fierce rising drive.

In the 61st minute it was Ward again, finishing brilliantly, and two minutes later Mellor headed home Harry Wilson’s cross.

In the 70th minute Gerry Fell set up Mellor for his hat-trick, and Ward completed the rout with two in two minutes.

First, he took a long clearance from Grummitt in his stride to get a superb solo goal, then he put home the rebound after Mellor’s shot had been blocked.

In Match Weekly many years later Peter Ward commented:

“I can’t remember in what order the goals came but I know it was 6-0 and both Ian and I had scored three when the ball came over and ian volleyed it against the Walsall post. I knocked it in from the rebound. As for the other goals, two came from through balls, I believe when I ran on and beat the keeper. And the other came after a mazy dribble where I beat a couple of defenders before slotting ball in.”

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