A late deflected goal from Nicky Law proved decisive as Cambridge United’s winning run in Sky Bet League Two came to an end with a 1-0 defeat at Exeter City.
The U’s lined up with one change as Ade Azeez moved in alongside Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, replacing Jabo Ibehre who missed the clash owing to injury.
Following a scrappy opening quarter to the game, in which neither side really carved out a clear opening on goal, the Grecians looked to have bagged an opener on 20 minutes when Pierce Sweeney scrambled the ball over the line from an Exeter City corner only for the flag to be raised against the full back for offside.
United’s first glimpse at goal came as Hepburn-Murphy headed off target on the end of a U’s corner six minutes later, before George Maris then lifted a shot fractionally over the top from the edge of the area with Christy Pym looking beaten.
Dimitar Mitov was called into action on the half hour mark, with the U’s keeper producing a smart save to palm over Lee Martin’s fiercely struck effort with both gloves.
Exeter captain Jake Taylor came as close as anyone ten minute before the break when the central midfielder picked up a loose ball 20 yards from United’s goal and clipped a curling effort off the outside of Mitov’s left post.
Calderwood’s men almost sprung the perfect counter attack before the break when George Maris set Amoo away down the right, and were it not for a superb diving interception from Pym then Hepburn-Murphy looked certain to tuck away the winger’s cross.
Jevani Brown threatened on the hour when the midfielder picked up possession and drove into a pocket of space on the outside of the Exeter area, and his left footed shot zipped wide with Pym scrambling across his goal line.
The Grecians then spurned a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when referee Michael Salisbury awarded them a penalty for an adjudged hand ball from Jake Carroll. Jonathon Forte stepped up but crashed the spot kick against the United cross bar and the U’s remained level.
However, it mattered not with the hosts producing the game’s decisive moment nine minutes from time when Nicky Law hared into the United area and the midfielder’s drilled shot took a wicked deflection that wrong-footed Mitov and looped into the net.
Brad Halliday flashed a strike across the face of goal in the dying embers of the match but it drifted agonisingly past the far post, as the U’s failed to muster a leveller.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, O’Shea, Martin (Bowman, 73 mins), Law, Holmes, Forte (Tillson, 87 mins), Wilson, Moxey, Taylor, Collins (Williams, 72 mins)
Cambridge United: Mitov, Halliday, Taft, Taylor, Carroll, Amoo, Deegan, Maris, Brown, Azeez (Dunk, 54 mins), Hepburn-Murphy
Attendance: 3,996 (138)