The Iron kicked off the new League One season in style, coming from behind to defeat Bristol Rovers 3-1 at Glanford Park.United had fallen behind to a Matty Taylor strike in the first half, but superb goals from Kevin van Veen, Josh Morris and Kyle Wootton completed the turnaround, to give the Iron a perfect start to the new campaign.
Graham Alexander went with the same eleven which began the final pre-season game at Hartlepool United, as Luke Daniels started in goal, and in front of him was a back four of Jordan Clarke, David Mirfin, Murray Wallace and Conor Townsend.
Hakeeb Adelakun was on the right of midfield, and on the opposing flank was new man Morris, with Neal Bishop partnering Stephen Dawson in the centre of the park. Dutchman van Veen remained in an attacking berth, alongside Tom Hopper up front.
There was some early defending for United to do, when the ball fell to Rory Gaffney inside the area. The Rovers centre forward then went for goal, but he couldn’t find a way past Wallace, who threw his body courageously on the line to block the strike.
The hosts struggled to break down a well structured Gas defence, and there were limited opportunities to find a route to goal. In fact Darrell Clarke’s side almost contributed to their own downfall, as Tom Lockyer nearly sliced the ball into his own net, after a good delivery from the left by Wallace.
Thirty minutes in, Morris went closest to breaking the deadlock, picking up the ball following a Hopper knockdown, and hitting a rasping drive which flashed not too high over Steve Mildenhall’s crossbar.
However, it was the Pirates who landed the first blow, moments on from Morris’ effort. Taylor, who found the net consistently throughout the previous campaign, opened his account in this, rifling home from close range on the half turn.
Alexander’s men were keen to get back on the front foot again and, five minutes before the break, Morris forced a save out of Mildenhall from a well worked free kick on the edge of the area.
1-0 is how it would remain at the interval though, with Ben Toner bringing an end to proceedings shortly after Morris’ attempt.
United picked up where they left off after the break, and Morris in particular, as he tested Mildenhall with a stinging shot from distance.
Adelakun then followed up his teammate’s effort by taking aim from over 25 yards out. His right-footed strike had Rovers ‘keeper Mildenhall worried too, as he scrambled across his goal to cover his far post.
The Iron’s best opening up until that point came the way of van Veen on the hour mark. The forward left Rovers defenders in his wake as he drove on into the penalty area, but he was denied at the last, by some good goalkeeping from Mildenhall.
The Dutchman’s frustration would be short lived though, as he brought his side level with 25 minutes left to play. There seemed to be little danger when the ball dropped in the area, but van Veen gave Mildenhall no chance, lashing home into the roof of the net.
Van Veen certainly looked in the mood, and no sooner had he got one, he was looking for another. Following him beating his man on the left flank, he then cut in on to his right and hit a curling shot which was well blocked by the Rovers backline.
A moment of magic then completed the turnaround. Morris, who’d looked a constant threat all afternoon, received the ball in field and went on a mazy run. He then capped it with a goal, and a brilliant one too, firing across Mildenhall and into the far corner.
There was a scare late on for the home side though, with substitute Billy Bodin flashing a shot inches wide of Daniels’ goal, after driving into the penalty area.
Substitute Kyle Wootton gave United a comfortable end to proceedings however, when he ran through and slotted the ball under Mildenhall, to round off a superb fightback from Alexander’s men.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Wallace, Mirfin, Dawson, van Veen (Wiseman 90), Morris, Bishop (Ness 66), Hopper (Wootton 85), Adelakun, Townsend, Clarke.
Substitutes not used: Anyon, Williams, Holmes, Goode.
Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Leadbitter, Brown, Lockyer, Hartley, O. Clarke, Taylor, Lines, J. Clarke (Montano 73), Sinclair (Bodin 73); Gaffney (Harrison 66).
Substitutes not used: Puddy, McChrystal, Easter, James.
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