20th February 1991
Leyland DAF ( Football League Trophy)
Cambridge United (h)
Exeter City 0 Cambridge United 0. Leyland Daf Trophy.
Wednesday 20 February 1991.
Football League Trophy Southern Section quarter-finals.
Dublin's fair city!
Exeter glad to see back of United ace
Report By RANDALL BUTT
RARELY can a manager have expressed the heartfelt thoughts of over 2,000 fans as succinctly as Terry Cooper did last night. The Exeter City's boss held a 40-minute inquest at St James's Park then emerged to sum up his feelings in nine words: "I'm glad to see the back of that lot." By that time "that lot" were on their way back up the M5, happily agreeing Devon really was glorious, even in February. Cambridge United had achieved another first in their record-breaking run, three away wins on the same ground in the same season. This time a well-deserved 1-0 victory, which could easily have been a four or five goal rout, took them into the semi- finals of the Leyland Daf Cup, four days after reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. With United also promotion favourites it was like some rich kid pinching the last couple of toys from a street urchin. All Exeter had left this season was their hopes of a Wembley appearance in the Leyland Daf Trophy and their pride in a traditionally good home record. Only two other teams have triumphed at the soccer out- post this season which emphasises the achievement of United's wins in the league plus FA and Daf Cups.
Dion Dublin got last night's goal after 12 minutes to earn the title of "the player we're most glad to see the back of." 3 of the United striker's haul of 18 this season were at Exeter-the winner in each game. It inspired one member of the south west Press corps gloomily to re-name Exeter "Dublin's fair city!"
Cooper admitted: "We could have lost by two or three more. Cambridge are playing with the sort of confidence we were last season when we won the fourth division championship. "After losing twice before to them we knew exactly what to expect. But they play their game so efficiently there's nothing you can do about it." It might have helped though if one of his team's five six- footers was somewhere in the vicinity of Dublin the striker not the city when Lee Philpott sent over one of his inswinging corners. Dublin leapt into splendid isolation at the near post to power a close-range header past goalkeeper Kevin Miller. United boss John Beck showed how he regards the Daf Cup by deciding, after much thought about resting players, to field the side who walloped Sheffield Wednesday. And his men slotted straight back into the groove, outrunning and outplaying the home team for a good 80 per cent of the match. As well as the goal there were four occasions in the first 25 minutes when the Exeter defence switched for the night to a sweeper system was ripped apart. John Taylor just failed to find Dublin with a pass across the face of goal, Michael Cheetham forced a good save from Miller, Chris Leadbitter fired wide and three or four United men almost got the vital touch in one chaotic goalmouth scramble. Exeter had an early chance when Richard Dryden beat the offside trap in the fifth minute only to fire wide from 10 yards. But that was the only real threat from them as they con- tinually tried to short-pass or dribble their way through a disciplined United rearguard, beaten only twice now in an 11-match winning run. Cooper abandoned his ill- judged attempt to smother United with a five-man defence, allowing his team to go all out for the equaliser after the break. But United relished the extra space, breaking through on the counter-attack time after time. Their coach-load of fans behind the goal they were attacking should have been rewarded for their long mid- week journey with a repeat of Saturday's three-goal second half. But maybe there was something in Beck's superstitious belief that they had used up their ration. There were some good saves from Miller and his defence, but it was difficult to find a better reason for some of the chances going begging. Taylor just failed to get the touch when Phil Chapple back-headed a Richard Wilkins long throw to him in the 53rd minute. And four minutes the striker seemed stuck to the spot and unable to shoot when an Alan Kimble/ Philpott move gave him another close- range chance. Wilkins had a shot saved, a Cheetham effort was deflected and Chapple headed just past the post from a corner. Ten minutes to go and the home fans were going. And that was when Leadbitter should have sparked a mass exodus. A Cheetham pass set Philpott free on the right wing. His perfect cross found Leadbitter unmarked in the middle but he made a hash of controlling the ball, his first touch sending it harmlessly to a relieved keeper. It might have been costly, condemning United to extra time they cannot afford with their hectic schedule. But goalkeeper John Vaughan, unemployed most of the night, earned his money in the final three minutes when he saved an angled drive by Gordon Hobson, then stopped a Shaun Taylor shot which took a tricky deflection of Chapple's hip.
LEYLAND DAF CUP Quarter final
EXETER CITY. 0.
CAMBRIDGE UNITED.1 (Dublin 12 mins)
Miller, Hiley, Brown, McNichol, S Taylor, Cooper, Morgan (Batty 62 min), Hobson, Neville, Dryden, Marshall.
Sub not used: O'Toole.
Vaughan, Fensome, O'Shea, Chapple, Kim- ble, Cheetham, Leadbitter (Dennis 89 mins), Wilkins, Philpott, Dublin, Taylor.
Sub not used: Claridge.
Attendance: 2,258. No bookings.
Referee: T Holbrook (Wolverhampton).