10th February 1990
Cambridge United (a)
Cambridge United 3-2 ECFC
Whitehead, Rowbotham (pen)
We did it for Chris
Match Report by RANDALL BUTT
To a man Cambridge United dedicated their remarkable fightback victory over Exeter City to Chris Turner. Their first thoughts after turning a two goal deficit into a 3-2 win were for their former "gaffer" who was sacked two days earlier. Skipper Liam Daish summed up their feelings. "That one was for Chris," he said. "He brought all of us here and we have a lot of respect for him. All we can do for him now is to keep this run going and get some success." At half time the unbeaten record under John Beck's leadership looked doomed as United trailed 2-0 against second-in-the table Exeter. But, after "a few arguments to get some things off our chests" according to Daish, they rediscovered the skills and spirit which toppled First Division Millwall in the FA Cup.
Michael Cheetham got the vital early goal after the break. Lee Philpott equalised and Cheetham sent the Abbey Stadium fans wild with the winner eight minutes from time. There was little cause for even mild excitement in the low-key first half. The behind-the-scenes up- heaval seemed to be taking its toll on United who looked more lethargic than an Exeter side playing their first League match for 18 days. Exeter fullback Scott Hiley's raids down the right wing reminiscent of man- ager Terry Cooper in his heyday was the most threatening attacking ploy of a dreary opening half an hour. And that was where the first goal came from. His 30th minute cross was flicked on by Darren Rowbotham for Clive Whitehead to score with a close-range header. Ten minutes later the pair combined in a rather different way for a controversial second goal. Whitehead, who gained two penalties in one game this season against Gillingham, stumbled theatrically over a Dion Dublin tackle and won another. Rowbotham blasted the spot kick past John Vaughan for his 27th goal of the season. United's best effort in a half dominated by the visitors, who forced six corners to their two, was an 11th minute shot from Chris Leadbitter which bounced inches wide. They need something special early in the second half to break into the game and Dublin provided just that. A breathtaking backheel gave Cheetham a clear run into the box and the winger drilled a shot under the body of goalkeeper Kevin Miller. If there was another moment of inspiration it came in midfield where Exeter's intimidating Danny Bailey ruled during the first half. He was brought down to earth, literally, by a bone- jarring tackle from Colin Bailie and United took over. There was one moment when their all-out attack might have backfired on them but Vaughan saved well from Rowbotham in the 68th minute. And four minutes later they were level as the two wingers combined, Cheetham swinging the ball across goal for Philpott to head home from close-range. Exeter pulled Rowbotham out of the game and tried to hold on to a point. But with eight minutes to go Leadbitter set up the winner when he just managed to stay on his feet after stumbling in the mud. Catching the ball on the bye-line he crossed for Cheetham to head in at the far post. It was the second 3-2 result of the week at the Abbey. But it was cheered by rather more people and this time the reason for it was out in the open for all to see. Beck praised Cheetham, centre backs Daish and Phil Chapple and especially the revitalised Bailie. "It was Colin who got us going in the second half," he said. "I honestly believe we are the best team in the Fourth Division but needed the spark he gave us." Terry Cooper commented: "We were weak and we caved in. We can forget promotion if we can't defend a 2-0 lead." And he was scathing of star striker Rowbotham, saying: "If he thinks he's got it made just because he's scored 27 goals this season he's in for a shock. He was totally ineffective!"
CAMBRIDGE UNITED. 3
(Cheetham 52, 82 mins; Philpott 72)
EXETER CITY. 2
(Whitehead 30, Rowbotham pen 40)
Vaughan: Fensome, Daish, Chapple, Kimble, Cheetham, Leadbitter, Bailie. Philpott, Taylor, Dublin. Subs not used: Claridge, O'Shea.
Miller, Hiley, Ben- jamin, McNichol, Taylor, White- head, Rowbotham (Batty 80 mins), Bailey, McDermott, Neville, Stafford. Sub not used: Rogers.
Referee: P Vanes (Warley).
The fans' verdict on Turner sacking
Just give us the facts. TELL us more!
That was the plea from the fans on the Abbey Stadium terraces a day after the Cambridge United board sacked general manager Chris Turner. The general feeling among United supporters watching their side beat Exeter City was of being kept in the dark. Brian Wicks, of Newmarket-a United supporter for 20 years -echoed the thoughts of many. "What were the reasons?" he asked. "I think the directors should have told us more. I'd like to know who voted to keep him and who wanted him to go." His friend, Ronald Bishop, of Milton, also wanted to know why but reckoned a general manager was a luxury. What does a general manager really do?" he said. "I suppose they couldn't really afford one if the debts are as big as they say." Paul Judges, who has supported United for 25 of his 28 years and still travels from London to watch them, said: "It's a real shame after all he's done but we don't know the background to it. "It would be nice to know more. The board said it was an amicable agreement but I'm sure Chris Turner's disappointed." Peter Southery, from Haverhill, said: "It was a bad time to sack him as it could easily have had an effect on the players. "It looked like it had in the first half but luckily they picked up in the second." "Why did they sack him and why did they do it now with important games coming up?" Andrew Northfield, from Cambridge, said: "It was a bit dirty. I think they gave Chris Turner a raw deal when you consider what he's done for the club. I'd like to know what was going on." Brian Smith, who has followed United since the 50s and travelled from Dunstable to the Abbey, commented: "I don't see how we can afford a general manager but I think we should have been told more about what happened." In the vice-presidents club, however, the board's decision seemed to find a lot more favour, one director who did not want to be named, commenting: "I don't know when I've had my hand shaken so often."