Football / FA Cup: Luton fans are hurt in gas attack: Cardiff angered by Preece's winner

Mark Burton
Monday 21 February 1994 00:02

Cardiff City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Luton Town. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

CARDIFF CITY found themselves out of the FA Cup and in danger of appearing before an FA hearing after they were beaten by a Luton Town goal that neither their manager nor their chairman thought should have been allowed.

At least 10 Luton fans were treated in hospital for burns after a canister of gas was hurled at them as they were leaving the away enclosure. They were treated for skin burns and eye irritations. Eleven people were arrested during the match for public order offences.

Eddie May, Cardiff's manager who gesticulated at the referee, Roger Dilkes, after the match, claimed that his side had been 'cheated' by the officials, who allowed David Preece's 69th-minute winner to stand even though Ceri Hughes was regaining his ground from an offside position when John Hartson played Preece clear.

'The lad was offside, the referee was going to blow, but there was no flag,' said May, who had seen his side equalise through Phil Stant's volley in the 65th minute.

'I will say it, we were cheated. I'm very bitter to lose a cup tie to a goal like that.'

He was backed by his chairman, Rick Wright, who said: 'We should be going to a replay, but we've been cheated. There is no other word for it.'

Wright suggested that allowing the goal was the sort of decision that could provoke a volatile crowd. So it did. Apart from the gas attack, the linesman involved in the goal decision, Brian Rice, was pelted with small missiles, and after the final whistle hundreds of teenagers invaded the pitch.

The Cardiff chairman, Rick Wright, dismissed his fans' behaviour as 'exuberance', but the FA of Wales may not be so lenient if the referee refers to the disturbances in his report.

Cardiff already have a suspended pounds 25,000 fine after a pitch invasion during their match at Fulham and the FAW will meet shortly to decide whether trouble during the club's League match against Swansea on 22 December warranted invoking the fine.

David Pleat, Luton's manager, dismissed the offside controversy. The referee confirmed that all clubs had received a directive stating that 'offside' players not interfering with play shall not be flagged offside.

As Pleat said, his First Division side should have rendered any such disputes irrelevant by making better use of several first-half attacks. Their crossing was woeful and it was Scott Oakes's decision to keep the ball and cut in that brought him Luton's opening goal after 39 minutes. He sped through on the left when Preece's pass exposed Cardiff's offside trap.

Stant came on to provide aggression and urgency and the equaliser from Garry Thompson's nod-down, but Cardiff's fighting revival was cut short by Preece's cool left-foot finish.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Grew (Kite, h/t); Brazil, Baddeley, Perry, Fearle; Bird, Richardson, Millar, Griffith; Dale (Stant, 54), Thompson. Substitute not used: Adams.

Luton Town (4-4-2): Sommer; Linton, Dreyer, Peake, James; Telfer, Preece, Harper, Hughes; Hartson (Dixon, 70), Oakes. Substitutes not used: Thorpe, Petterson (gk).

Referee: L R Dilkes (Mossley).

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