Exeter City made it three away wins in a row and responded to last week’s disappointing defeat to Hartlepool in the best possible way with a stunning 4-0 success at Scunthorpe United.
The Iron were yet to lose in ten League two games so far this season, but they were blitzed by a brilliant City performance. Liam Sercombe led the way with his first two goals of the season with an Arron Davies strike sandwiching those two goals. Sam Parkin wrapped it up with Exeter’s fourth in stoppage time.
The win lifts City to joint-top of League Two ahead of Tuesday’s clash at Oxford United, who are one point adrift of the Grecians in fourth after they drew 0-0 at Accrington Stanley.
Manager Paul Tisdale made two changes to the side that started the defeat to Hartlepool. Jimmy Keohane and John O’Flynn came in at the expense of David Wheeler, who dropped to the bench, and the injured Danny Butterfield. Matt Gill, who returned to St James’ Park on loan from Bristol Rovers on Friday, was also named among the subs.
The versatile Scot Bennett started at right-back in Butterfield’s absence with Arron Davies in front of him and Keohane starting on the left of midfield.
The Grecians started the game really well, passing the ball round at will, but without being able to penetrate the Scunthorpe defence. The Iron, meanwhile, only had an Etienne Esajas shot from distance to show for their early work, but that sailed high over the crossbar.
The first genuine chance fell to the home side on 15 minutes when Matt Sparrow was played in on goal, but Exeter goalkeeper Artur Krysiak made himself big and palmed the shot to safety. Scunthorpe soon had the ball in the net through David Syers, but he was penalised for fouling Krysiak in the build-up.
Sean McAllister became the first player booked for cynically bringing down Liam Sercombe just as he looked to charge through midfield, but nothing came of the subsequent free kick of corner.
Scunthorpe’s main threat was coming from left-winger Esajas and after a good run, he pulled his shot wide from 20 yards. Doherty was then booked for Exeter after giving a free kick away, 25 yards from goal, but Esajas was woefully wide with his shot at goal.
However, the Grecians went in front in 35 minutes and it was a wonderful goal. The ball was played into the feet of O’Flynn whose lovely deft touch set Sercombe up. The Exeter midfield took one tough before firing a fine shot from 18 yards into the bottom corner.
Straight from kick-off, O’Flynn went through the back off Byrne to earn himself a booking, but Exeter continued to look threatening on the counter. Davies elected to pass rather than shoot after cutting in from the left wing, while Gow screwed a shot wide from 30 yards.
It was a good half from the Grecians and their interval lead led to boos from the home faithful. Things got a whole lot worse for the home side less than five minutes into the second half as the Grecians doubled their lead.
They took a quick throw in and Davies delivered from the right. Whether it was a cross or a shot, only he will know, but the ball caught out goalkeeper Sam Slocombe, hit the far post and nestled in the net.
Within a minute, it was 3-0. Another superb counter-attack led to Gow pulling the ball back to Sercombe and he drilled a superb first time shot across goal and into the corner from 18 yards.
Scunthorpe refused to give in though, and Krysiak again made himself big on a one-on-one with Syers to keep the big striker’s hot at bay before he pulled off another smart stop – this time with his legs – to deny substitute Sam Winnell.
Davies came to Exeter’s rescue by hacking Syers’ shot off the line and Krysiak saved well once again, this time from and the Pole pulled off another fine flying stop to deny Syers’ long ranger.
Scunthorpe deserved great credit for the way they were taking the game to Exeter, who were happy to defend and look to counter. However, those inside Glanford Park were being treated to a cracking game of football.
Winnall headed wastefully wide from close range from Cliff Byrne’s superb cross before City made a double change with Matt’s Gill and Grimes replacing Doherty and Keohane. Parkin soon followed, replacing Gow.
Deon Burton headed wide from six yards before Syers’ found the net, which led to cheers from the home side, but they soon died down when it dawned on them the ball had actually found the side netting.
The changes took some of the sting out of the game and Exeter were certainly not as threatening on the counter. However, as the game drifted into stoppage time, Parkin made it 4-0 when he followed up to score with ease after Matt Grimes’ shot had been spilled by Slocombe.
Scunthorpe United (4-4-2) Slocombe; Byrne, Mirfin, Canavan, Dawson; Sparrow (Hawkridge 53), Syers, McAllister (Adelakun 72), Esajas (Winnall 53); Burton, Spencer. Substitutes (not used): Severn (gk), Ribeiro, Waterfall, Wootton.
Bookings: McAllister, Hawkridge.
Exeter City (4-4-2): Krysiak; Bennett, Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Davies, Sercombe, Doherty (Gill 68), Keohane (Grimes 68); Gow (Parkin 72), O’Flynn. Substitutes (not used): Pym (gk), Moore-Taylor, Tillson, Wheeler.
Goals: Sercombe 35, 50, Davies 49, Parkin 90.
Bookings: Doherty, O’Flynn
Referee: C Breakspear (Surrey).