22nd January 1972
Cambridge U (home)
Exeter City 3, Cambridge United 4
Exeter's lowly League position might be thought by some to point to a season of unrelieved gloom. But nobody can complain that the games, themselves, are uninteresting. This one, for instance, contained more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie thriller, and it would have been a brave man to have forecast the eventual denouement.
As it turned out it was disaster for Exeter after twice having taken the lead. It really was a strange and unsettling match. It had a bit of everything.
For 13 heady minutes Exeter produced a period of as crisp and constructive a brand of football as they have played this season. Then for the remainder of the half they struggled through a morass of mistakes, their goal-getting Midas touch suddenly having disappeared.
The transformation from a side looking so good to one looking so bad stretched credulity to the limit. And, of course, they paid the penalty.
Tony Morrin might have given them the lead in the 13th minute, but by half-time they were a goal down and looking decidedly despondent.
They never regained the sparkle of that opening spell, but they did pull themselves together and worked hard enough to once more take the lead.
Their supporters sighed with relief, even if the Jimmy Giles goal that regained the lead had a touch of luck about it, and it looked as if Exeter would achieve their first double of the season. But once more things went wrong. The game boiled to a climax and in true story-book tradition Cambridge snatched victory with a goal four minutes from the end.
But whatever the mistakes, and whoever made them, it cannot detract completely from the hard footballing fact that Cambridge, away from home, and twice finding themselves behind, did enough to win this match.
Of course they were helped, almost invited by some of Exeter's sloppy play, but they took their chances, and that is what counts. Equally it is true that Exeter, having shown themselves capable of playing really delightful and devastating football, went to pieces in almost every department.
Therein lies the root cause of their failure. That opening goal from Morrin
produced as unusual an incident as one could wish. His pile-driver of a shot was so hard that it went through the net. Referee Maurice Washer thought the ball had gone wide and pointed for a goal kick. It was only after being taken to the net by protesting players, and consulting with his linesmen that he awarded the goal. "The linesmen confirmed the ball had broken the net," said Mr. Washer.
Cambridge came back in the first half with goals from Ron Walton and centre-forward David Lill.
In the second-half Fred Binney neatly headed in from Graham Parker's free kick just outside the area, and after goalkeeper Peter Vasper had dropped the ball in a goalmouth skirmish, Jimmy Giles got his first goal of the season.
Then came that Cambridge late come-back and goals from Brian Greenhaulgh and Walton clinched the game for them.
'Teams come here and go away with birthday presents every week' -Exeter boss JOHN NEWMAN