Scunthorpe celebrated their third win in a row under the caretaker management team of Russ Wilcox and Tony Daws on Saturday afternoon.
The Iron came out on top with an emphatic 3-1 victory against second-to-bottom Torquay.
Scunthorpe were able to grab the three points from under the nose of ex-Iron manager Alan Knill, who is currently boss of the Gulls.
Goals from Sam Winnall, an own-goal and Hakeeb Adelakun were enough for the home side to come out on top.
Lee Mansell had a good opportunity within the second minute but failed to get his foot over the ball and Mirfin was able to clear his lines.
Scunthorpe soon dominated and showed why they were the in-form team coming into this encounter – getting behind Torquay’s defence within the first few times of asking.
It wasn’t long before the Iron took the lead as Winnall swept home from about eight yards in the fifth minute. The ball was deflected to him after Deon Burton’s shot was blocked, and the striker calmly guided it past a sprawling Martin Rice.
The goal came shortly after McAllister found Hawkridge free at the back post, whose cleanly hit volley was blocked by a Torquay defender. This was becoming a trend, with the central midfielder sparking incisive counter attacks with his non-stop running and harrying of the opposition’s midfield.
The Gulls missed a good opportunity for an equaliser in the 20th minute – Chapell crossing for Craig who mis-hit his volley miles over the bar. Canavan and Mirfin again looked in control at the back, coping well with a variety of crossed balls within the first half.
Canavan was judged to have fouled ex-Iron frontman Damien Mozika on the edge of the box in the 25th minute. Aaron Downes was unlucky with the free-kick, whipping it just wide of the post.
Shortly after, Winnall found bags of space on the right flank but couldn’t find Burton with his cross-come-shot.
Torquay struggled with the resulting corner which ended up in the back of the net via an Anthony O’Connor own goal.
The opposition defender stretched to meet the cross but could not prevent it from deflecting off his head into the roof of the net. The Iron had doubled their lead.
The visitors immediately responded at the other end: whipping in a free-kick which was nodded in by a Torquay head; however, the goal was disallowed by an offside flag. The away side continued to push for a goal and were awarded another free-kick right on the edge of the box following a foul by David Mirfin. Nathan Craig was very unlucky not to break the deficit for his side as he smashed his set piece against the frame of the goal.
Mirfin showed incredible craft seconds before half time, taking out two defenders with a deft Cruyff turn before finding McAllister who squandered the chance blazing his first-time shot over the bar. Scunthorpe went in at the break 2-0 up, with the home side looking good value for their lead.
United began the second half the same way they started the first, and it wasn’t long before the home side spurned out another chance in front of goal. Burton did brilliantly to control Slocombe’s long ball up field and teed it off to McAllister who slipped Syers in behind the Gulls defence. However, the on-loan midfielder hit his shot straight at Rice, forcing a decent save out of the Torquay shotstopper.
Craig had another chance to whip in a free-kick just shy of the fifty-five minute mark. The midfielder again whipped the ball towards the near post, but the smart set piece was matched by an acrobatic dive from Slocombe, who was captaining the side today.
Deon Burton found himself through on goal shortly after, but a bit of confusion lead him to believe he was offside. The striker still managed to get a touch on the ball but by then Martin Rice was able to rush out and block the shot. This was followed by another sharp attack in which Winnall whipped an inviting cross low into the box but a Torquay defender was just able to get his toe on the ball to avert it away from danger.
Adelakun managed to get his first senior goal in the 61st minute after being found by Michael Collins. The two substitutes combined with Collins slipping Adelakun in with a throughball and the youngster did the rest – smashing the ball underneath the Torquay goalkeeper.
This gave the Iron momentum to push on for a fourth, and it wasn’t long before the Gulls’ man between the sticks was put to the test again, tipping over Eddie Nolan’s effort. The defender burst through and chipped an effort at goal from a tight angle which was met by the palm of Martin Rice.
Brave defending by McAllister prevented anyone from converting Thomas Cruise’s dangerous cross shortly after the 70 minute mark – Scunthorpe were looking very determined not to concede this afternoon. The Iron were in complete control by this point, playing possession football and neat little triangles, one of which resulting in Nolan’s effort curling just wide of the post.
Scunthorpe were caught napping however in the 77th minute, allowing John Marquis to slot the ball past Sam Slocombe’s near-post to get his side on the score-sheet. The goal stemmed from some build-up play surrounding the penalty area and was rather unexpected considering Scunthorpe’s dominance.
With less than five minutes to go Spencer managed to muscle his way around a Torquay challenge but was unable to get his shot on target. An immediate impact from the substitute.
So overall a great day at Glanford Park, a valuable victory over a familiar face (in Alan Knill) as well as three points towards the Iron’s promotion push. It’s fair to say Scunthorpe are looking a completely different side under Wilcox and Daws: playing incisive, enticing football after a much-needed confidence boost.
Scunthorpe United: Scunthorpe: Slocombe, Ribeiro, McAllister (Collins 54), Mirfin, Canavan, Burton (Spencer 75), Hawkridge, Nolan, Syers, Noble-Lazarus (Adelakun 54), Winnall
Substitutes not used: Severn, Iwelumo, Waterfall, Williams.
Torquay United: Rice, Tonge, Downes, Mansell, Chapell, Marquis, Craig, Cruise, Benyon (Stockley 62), O’Connor, Mozika
Substitutes not used: Poke, Pearce, Hawley, Bodin, McCourt, Sullivan.