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15:00 24th November 2012

United suffered their second defeat in five days as they went down 4-0 to Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium.

An own goal from a Christian Ribeiro defensive error pretty much summed up a wretched afternoon for the Iron.

What followed was a second half capitulation as the team conceded three goals in the space of 18 minutes.

The Iron made three changes on the back of Tuesday evening’s defeat to Bury with David Prutton returning from suspension in midfield to replace Damien Mozika, with Jimmy Ryan coming in for Andy Barcham and up front Nathan Ellington started his first game in place of Karl Hawley.

That meant that the Iron lined up with Steve Mildenhall between the posts; while in front of him was an unchanged back four of Christian Ribeiro, Mark McCrystal, Niall Canavan and skipper Tom Newey.

Joining Prutton and Ryan in the middle of the park were Mark Duffy and Josh Walker, while at the sharp end of things were 11-goal hotshot Leon Clarke and Ellington.

With four minutes on the clock, it was the talismanic Clarke who had the first attempt, picking up a raking cross-field ball from Duffy but after outmuscling Paul Quinn the Charlton loanee was unable to keep his shot down; the ball instead sailing over Gary Woods’ bar.

That set the tone of the opening ten minutes, as the Iron started brightly; keeping possession well.

Prutton, Walker and Ryan moved the ball in neat triangles in the centre of the park; and it was the latter who fashioned the next chance for the visitors, as he fired a low drive just wide of Woods’ right hand post from all of 25 yards.

In typical derby fashion, the game ebbed and flowed, and the opening 20 minutes certainly wouldn’t have been one for the football purists as both sides seemed determined to give the ball away at every opportunity.

For the hosts, Paul Keegan did muster a header from a David Cotterill cross, but fouled Newey in the process while at the other end Prutton tamely shot into the arms of Woods.

But after twenty minutes the Iron’s good start meant nothing as Rovers took the lead, and typically it was another defensive mistake which proved to be the visitors undoing.

What looked to be a fairly routine Cotterill cross somehow evaded everyone and found its way to the back post where Ribeiro looked to have the situation under control.

What happened next, from the Iron’s perspective, was simply calamitous; with the simplest of headers back to his goalkeeper all that was necessary, and the Iron right-back somehow angled the ball past a stranded Mildenhall.

Buoyed by that goal it was the home side who began to enjoy a spell of possession; the chief weapon in their armoury being the long throws of Tommy Spurr which constantly sought out the head of former Iron defender Rob Jones, who at 6ft 5in proved a more than capable target.

At the other end the dogged determination and tireless running of Duffy looked the Iron’s most potent force, with the strike partnership of Ellington and Clarke looking like it will need time to gel, as both made a habit of misplacing passes when looking for each other.

As the half drew to a close the rain began to fall, making the surface at the Keepmoat slicker, something Walker almost took advantage of when fizzing a deflected shot just wide after 38 minutes.

Next it was the turn of Jimmy Ryan who, in added time, saw his shot from just inside the area blocked after fine approach play from Duffy.

Straight after the break and the visitors were caught cold, and found themselves two down thanks to Cotterill after just 45 seconds.

Ian Hume burst down the left channel and thumped the ball across the body of Mildenhall who could only parry straight into the path of Cotterill who reacted first to fire into the back of the net, sending the home fans into raptures, and leaving Laws’ side with a mountain to climb.

Tails up and the home side were marauding forward as the Iron back line wobbled time and again.

After 51 minutes, Canavan had to be alert to put the ball out of play as the visitors invited the pressure onto themselves time and again.

Two minutes later, however, and in a rare foray into the Rovers half Duffy managed to fashion a half chance for himself.

Picking up the ball on the left he rode several challenges before hitting a sweet right footed shot which bent at the last minute to fly agonisingly wide.

On 57 minutes, the home side were forced into their first change of the game after Martin Woods fell heavily and was replaced by Chris Brown.

That meant that Hume slotted in on the left of the midfield four with Brown joining Billy Paynter up top.

However, any thoughts that may disrupt Doncaster’s flow were unfounded as they added a third just five minutes later.

Paynter found himself unmarked eight yards out on the right hand side of the box and it was only the alertness of the onrushing Mildenhall who used his body to push the ball behind preventing a certain goal.

But from the resulting corner the Iron stopper was helpless to prevent his side falling further behind as Jones came back to haunt his former employers, rising to crash the ball home.

Just two minutes later, in the 63rd minute, the home side put the result beyond any doubt as Paynter’s shot deflected off Duffy to squirm past Mildenhall and into the bottom left hand corner.

At that point Laws threw on Karl Hawley for Ellington, who had made little impact on his first start for the side; and Barcham replaced Ryan.

But the Iron were shaken, the back four looking ragged and only a desperate last ditch challenge from Canavan prevented it becoming five.

After 74 minutes, Laws played his final card; throwing Damien Mozika on to replace Walker, his side looking for what could only be a consolation goal.

But it was the home side who should have increased their lead with three minutes to go as substitute David Sayers, on for Paul Keegan, who raced clear only to fire straight at the midriff of Mildenhall.

But for the Iron stopper, the score could have been into double figures as the Iron were taught a footballing lesson which sees them firmly rooted in the bottom four while their hosts sit comfortable in the play-offs.

Doncaster Rovers:
Woods; Quinn, Husband, Jones, Spurr; Cotterill, Harper (Clingan 67), Keegan (Syers 77), Woods (Brown 58); Paynter, Hume.
Substitutes not used: Maxted, Blake, Woods, Martis.

Scunthorpe United: Mildenhall; Ribeiro, Canavan, McChrystal, Newey; Duffy, Prutton, Walker (Mozika 74), Ryan (Barcham 64); Clarke, Ellington (Hawley 64).
Substitutes not used: Slocombe; Kennedy, Grella, Howe.

Attendance: 8,037 (1,173 away).


    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.