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09:45 26th August 2001

Exeter City v Scunthorpe United

Exeter City 0 Scunthorpe United 4

It's difficult to find words to describe this latest performance by the Grecians without fear of it being censored - it was that bad. For City were, apart from a brief five minute spell in the first half when Christian Roberts hit a post, outplayed, and out thought for virtually the entire game.

City were a pale shadow of the team that had played such excellent football in the midweek defeat against Walsall. There were precious few moves of any note, and oceans of space for Scunthorpe to exploit, who could have easily doubled their tally had they taken their chances.

The visitors also had a match winner in veteran winger Peter Beagrie, who bossed the game. He teased the city defence all afternoon, twisting and turning, making runs down the left, and delivering delicious crosses.

Beagrie even helped out back in defence when the need arose, which was not that often. City were simply frightened of him, gave him far too much room and respect, and not surprisingly Beagrie took full advantage to show off his repertoire of skills.

Martin Carruthers saw an early header brilliantly tipped over by Arjan Van Heusden, before making no mistake in the 14th minute when he headed home from close range following a Beagrie cross. There was so much room in the City defence that you could have parked an articulated truck in the penalty area.

And although City did show a flash of some footballing ability - for five minutes - the game was all over just before half-time when Scunthorpe went 2-0 in front through Kim Grant, who raced through the centre of the defence to fire past the keeper.

Manager Noel Blake, who admitted after the game he was lost for words after apologising to the fans for an inept performance by the players, threw on substitutes Gary Birch and League debutant Reinier Moor at the start of the second half.

But it made little difference as Scunthorpe continued to look the more dangerous and it was no surprise when they extended their lead, courtesy of a gift, as Van Heusden was penalised for stepping outside of his area. Carl Bradshaw duly hammered home the resultant free kick.

It became an embarrassment for the City supporters when Wayne Graves sent Carruthers clear to score his second and Scunthorpe's fourth on 67 minutes.

Such had been the influence of Beagrie on the afternoon's proceedings that he was applauded off the field by the City fans as well when substituted.

This was a truly awful performance by City, with too many players just not in tune with the game. Perhaps they were suffering from sun stroke as the temperature at St James' Park rose on a sticky and warm day. Worrying times and a lot of work to be done if another season of struggle is to be avoided.

Attendance: 2,798 (178 away fans)
    Data provided by Press Association