Match 16
4th November 1988
Cambridge U (a)

Croft's original!
New winger warms frozen fans as United stage a late, late show! 

As they sat on the shuttle flight from Heathrow to Scotland today. Chris Turner and his management team had no worries about their journey being really necessary. The Cambride United manager must have been convinced during the most dreary hour's football of the season at the Abbey Stadium last night that today's long distance scouting trip was vital. United eventually broke down a dour and dull Exeter side to win 2-0 with goals from Coln Bailie and Brian Croft in the last 18 minutes. But after a first hour in which each side managed just one corner, and hardly a shot at goal. few of the frozen fans would have disagreed with Turner's assessment: "We need a couple of players." If the game had been a firework, it would have been dangerous-so uneventful for so long that it appeared dead, it suddenly burst into life. Bailie lit the blue touchpaper with his first goal for United, and the seventh and most bizarre of his career. His centre from the right touchline at the Newmarket Road end bounced through a crowded box and inside the far post past unsighted goalkeeper Mel Gwinnett without touching anyone. "I didn't get enough height on the cross," the United skipper admitted. "But at least it went in cleanly." The result was decided nine minutes later when inside 30 seconds were denied what looked like a certain equaliser and United got their second goal. Exeter Darren Rowbotham broke clear on the left from a free-kick and blasted a shot from eight yards but goalkeeper John Vaughan pulled off a superb save on his line. United charged downfield, Laurie Ryan worked a one- two with Gary Clayton and sent Brian Croft racing in to crash a low shot past the. keeper. Croft, who added power and pace to the United attack when he replaced Doug Anderson in the 60th minute, had the ball in the net a couple of minutes earlier, but a goal was ruled out, apparently because George Reilly was off-side. There could have been goals for both sides in the last few- minutes. Vaughan made another brilliant save to stop a shot from Chris Banks. And United looked as though they should have had a penalty when John Beck was floored. by Mark Jones. Player-coach Beck was more concerned, though, about his team's first half display. "If we could have put our finger on what was going wrong, we would have done something about it. We just couldn't get our game going." he said. "John Vaughan won the match for us with those saves. And the substitutions made a tremendous difference. "We were dictating the game then, but we needed the pace that Brian and Laurie brought in to break through." 

Exeter boss Terry Cooper branded his team as "awayday wimps." A member of Don Revie's Leeds United side, which was one of the toughest ever seen in the League, he commented: "We are just too soft. "I don't want my players to go out and kick people, but we don't see a game through away from home. We contained Cambridge for over an hour, but then caved in."

Match facts

Cambridge United 2  (Bailie 72 mins. Croft 81)
Exeter City 0 

Cambridge United:
Vaughan, Bailie. Chapple. Smith. Kimble: Anderson (Croft 60 mins). Clayton. Hamilton: Beck. Reilly, Taylor (Ryan 60 mins).

Exeter City:
Gwinnett: Banks. Jones. Rogers. Taylor, R. Cooper. Rowbotham. Langley. Batty (Withey 75 mins). Neville. Harrower.
2nd Sub: Vinnicombe.

No Bookings.

Attendance: 2.063.

Referee: D.Vickers (Ilford).





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