6 March 1999.
Cambridge U (h)
Exeter City 0
Cambridge United 0.
Report by Ross Reid
Saturday 6 March 1999.
WATERLOOVILLE referee Robert Styles was at the centre of yet more controversy as Exeter City's unbeaten run was halted by new leaders Cam- bridge United. Roy McFarland's United recorded their eighth away league win thanks to first half goals from their 34- year-old player-coaches David Preece and John Taylor and a late strike by 17-goal top scorer Martin Butler. But it was after the early goals that Styles took centre stage for dismissing City centre half Jon Gittens for two bookable offences and then awarding. Gittens had been yellow-carded for an over-zealous 33rd minute challenge on Butler in the half way line. There were few complaints with that but when Gittens was again shown yellow then red, after an innocuous looking 45th minute challenge on United skipper Paul Wanless, only Mr Styles knew what it was for. United took the lead in sensational fashion when Preece recalled for his first start since September- let fly from 30 yards out after two minutes and 13 seconds to beat City keeper Ashley Bayes. Marc Joseph's long throw-in was only half cleared and Preece scored with a sweet left foot strike. City could have levelled when new loan signing Paul Tosh was teed up following good work by Graeme Power and Darran Rowbotham but the Scot's shot flew over. Tosh then turned a great ball back to Chris Curran but his sidefooted shot was held by United's Dutch keeper Arjan Van Heusden. Cambridge went two up in the 24th minute after Wanless bravely beat Cur- ran to head the ball for- ward. Old warhorse Taylor latched on to the through ball and rolled it diagonally past Bayes for his 73rd league goal for Cambridge. Just before half time Power found Rowbotham with a long ball down the left but Tosh's near post effort was deflected wide. Former Cambridge trialist Steve Flack had an unlucky afternoon. He looked certain to add to his 15-goal tally as City mounted a brave second half bid but Van Heusden saved the striker's shot on the spin from substi- tute Shaun Gale's cross. Tosh nearly got on the end of Flack's flick-on and City had penalty appeals turned down in the 57th minute when the 'keeper seemed to floor Flack he stretched for another dangerous Curran long throw. Van Heusden was finally beaten by Lee Bad- deley's 62nd minute volley but emergency left back Ian Ashbee brilliantly headed clear. Better was to come from United's makeshift defence as City's 10 men continued to push forward with Gale whipping in a great cross to Flack. The towering top scorer met the cross with a great diving header but Van Heusden somehow kept- the effort out. City were then hit by the cruellest of blows as they again looked to get something out of the game. Substitute Brian Quailey did well down the right and then found Tosh. His square ball was misjudged by Flack and within seconds United were three up. City appealed for offside as Taylor set up Butler and he beat Bayes to inflict City's first home defeat of 1999. There was still time for Tosh's volley to be saved by Van Heusden, Jimmy Gardner's free kick to fly just over and Jason Rees to flash a 30-yarder just just wide.
Bayes Tosh Power Baddeley, Richardson Gittens, Rowbotham, Rees, Flack, Curran, Gardner. Substitutes: Gale (for Richardson, 47 mins), Quailey (for Baddeley, 80 mins). Not used: Wilkinson.
Van Heusden, Chenery, Ashbee, Eustace, Joseph (McNeill 42), Preece, Wanless, Taylor, Butler, Benjamin (Walker 77), Russell (McMahon 88)
Cambridge - Preece, 3 mins, Taylor, 24 minutes, Butler 83 mins.
Exeter - Gittens, 33 mins, Power, Rowbotham 90 mins.
Sent Off: Gittens 45 mins
Referee: Robert Styles (Waterlooville)