Woeful defending blamed for Exeter defeat.

Last updated : 16 January 2002 By Luke Thornhill
Earlier in the season, the long trip down to St James Park had been remarkably fruitful for United, dominating the match from start to finish and netting four times for no reply.

However, last night saw a reversal in fortunes.

Despite having won or last eight home games, it would have been hard for any neutral to pick the side whom had won so comfortably in the previous clash between the two sides.

It all started so well, just 22minutes gone and 18-year-old Jamie McCombe had given United the lead.

Torps headed a corner ball into the danger area, for McCombe to foce the ball home.

The lead lasted less than quarter of an hout though, when Steve Flack took advantage of United defending which seemed to be working on a `your turn` policy.

A hopeful ball went straight past the central defenders, allowing Flack to race on and put the ball away after going one on one with the 'keeper.

United's best chance of regaining the lead came moments later, when a free kick from thirty yards out by Peter Beagrie came rebounding back off the crossbar.

Just five minutes into the second half the Grecians took the lead when Christian Roberts took the ball from the left wing cut inside and curled a shot past Tommy Evans in the home goal.

It could have been so much worse for United when the visitors were awarded a penalty kick when Roberts was brought down in the area.

After consulting the the assistant referee though, the spot-kcik was changed to a free-kick on the edge of the area - which was promptly blocked by the wall.

It did get worse on 74 minutes though when Exeter got the third goal their play deserved, Roberts putting the ball past Evans from 30 yards with an unstoppable effort.

With Shrewsbury Town and Hull both trailing, United needed at least a point to make up ground, and increased pressure from the Iron brought the second penalty decision of the match five minutes after the previous.

McCombe was trippped in the box, and this time Peter Beagrie made no mistake from twelve yards out.

United grabbed a dramatic equaliser two minutes into stoppage time, when Brian Quailey popped up to drill the ball into the back of the net.

However, there was still time to lose the vital point, when Andy Roscoe went straight up the other end and saw his long-range shot deflected past Evans and into the net.

The result was bad, the performance truly awful, but thank God other results went our way otherwise we've be facing a mammoth task of even reaching the playoffs.

That's not to say our make it as hard for ourselves as possible to have a succesful season mentality isn't already hindering our chances massively.