20th September 1985
Cambridge United (a)
CAMBRIDGE UTD 1 (Crown 2 mins)
EXETER CITY 1 (Gale 86 mins).
Hansbury.Lee. Moyes. Scott. Bennett. Spriggs. Sinton. Finney. Comfort. Crown. S. Massey (Pyle 71 mins).
Shaw. Kirkup. Viney. McNichol. Impey. Marker. Ling. Jackson. Kellow. Gale. Harrower (Pratt 74 mins).
United - Scott. Finney (fouls). Exeter- Impey. Marker (fouls).
Referee: M. Bodenham (Brighton).
Match Report by RANDALL BUTT
NO NEED to tell Cambridge United how
tough it is at the bottom. They led for 84 minutes against Exeter City last night but had a desperately needed victory snatched from them only four minutes from time.
Notoriously slow starters usually. United stormed into the lead after just two minutes with a David Crown goal. Then they hit the post twice and had a goal disallowed as they dominated the Division Four match at the Abbey.
A poor Exeter side. undoubtedly the worst team United have faced this season. should have been buried but - instead they were handed a point on a plate due to another defensive lapse. It was one more example of lack of concentration at a vital stage of a game as United made an elementary mistake from a corner kick. Darren Gale only managed to get in a weak glancing header from Martin Ling's left-wing corner, but there was no defender covering the far post as the ball bounced into the net.
Said United centre-back Geoff Scott: "We've had a long discussion about that goal. It should never have gone in. I think the ball bounced twice before it crossed the line. "It was a match we should have won quite easily. If we could have got a second goal we would have done. But in the end I think there was a fear we might lose it because so many of the players were deflated by the equaliser."
Losing seemed out of the question however in the first hour of the game as United controlled midfield and terri- fied the visitors with the pace of Crown and Alan Comfort. Crown, who has gone from strength to strength in the last month. despite the team's dismal run. got United off to a storming start with his early goal. He raced in from the left flank after a long clearance had been threaded through to him and hammered a low. angled drive under diving goalkeeper John Shaw. With Tom Finney and Andy Sinton commanding midfield and freeing Steve Spriggs to spray passes around it seemed only a matter of time before United added to their score. Exeter, who took four points from their previous two games hardly featured as an attacking force. and the only problem United goalkeeper Roger Hansbury had in the first half was when he had to save an awkward back header from his own centre-back David Moyes. But United did not create a high enough percentage of scoring chances from so much possession. They had to thank Exeter defender Keith Viney for the best chance to add to their score before the break. He hit a dreadful back pass into the path of Crown who beat the keeper in the race for the ball only to see his stabbed shot hit the post and bounce back into the arms of Shaw.
United started the second half as positively as the first and both Exeter centre backs John Impey and Nick Marker were booked within a minute of each other as they committed fouls to break down promising attacks. It was a quite game for Steve Massey who has been injured since pre-season training. He was obviously below match fitness and not surprisingly replaced by sub- stitute Steve Pyle in the 71st minute. But he almost conjured a superb goal in the 58th minute when he sent a looping lob an inch over the crossbar after spotting the keeper off his gaol line. When Exeter did manage to attack at last, the home fans saw the kind of defensive frailty which afflicted United at Port Vale and Colchester. With the game opening up as Exeter tried for the equaliser United found more space and Comfort went agonisingly close to the winner in the 78th minute when he hurtled down the left and unleashed a left- foot shot which had the keeper beaten but slammed against the far post and rebounded straight to a defender. A couple of minutes before that the Abbey announcer was hailing a second goal after Moves headed home from Comfort's corner. but he was stifled in mid sentence when the referee awarded Exeter a free kick for pushing by the centre back as he went up for the ball. Unfortunately no one got close enough to Gale for him to have to push when he went up to head the last-gasp goal.
Could have been big win - Ken
KEN SHELLITO reckoned his team could have had a big win rather than a disappointing draw against Exeter last night. The Cambridge United manager commented: "If we could have got that second goal I'm sure we would have gone on to win four or five nil. I feel very sorry for the players and the fans. "I thought we always looked the better side. David Crown had another good game. but Steve Massey was struggling for match fitness after his lay off, and was a yard too slow." He was critical again of a defensive lapse which handed Exeter their 86th minute equaliser. "We had ten men in the box for the corner against six of theirs." he said. "Yet one of our players leaves his place at the far post to mark someone. "If we'd had someone there, and you always do at a corner. it would have been a simple task to block the header."