The Iron and Millwall shared the spoils in a feisty Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final first leg that ended goalless at the Den.
Both teams had opportunities to find the elusive strike, but a impressive rearguard action from the away side ensured things are finely poised for Sunday’s return fixture at Glanford Park.
Three alterations were made to the side which defeated Coventry City last Sunday.
Captain Stephen Dawson returned to the starting eleven, along with Jamie Ness, who took the places of Duane Holmes and Sam Mantom respectively. Ivan Toney also was back in the first team, at the expense of Kevin van Veen in attack.
Predictably, the match began at an electric pace, as both sides seeked an early foothold in proceedings.
It was United who had the first piece of defensive work to do, with Jordan Clarke showing a cool head to clear his lines at the back post, following a right-wing cross that flashed dangerously across the face of goal.
Graham Alexander’s men then got on the front foot themselves, but unfortunately a neat passing move down the left flank couldn’t be matched by an Iron man in the box, as Conor Townsend’s delivery drifted out of play.
Then, on 26 minutes came the first half’s best opening. Lee Gregory found himself one-on-one with Joe Anyon after breaking through the visiting backline, but the Scunthorpe ‘keeper did superb, and foiled the forward with his feet.
Anyon was tested again ten minutes later, but he was up to the challenge as he pushed away Jed Wallace’s free-kick from the edge of the area.
That attempt would prove to be the last of the opening period, as the two teams went in level at the break.
United’s resilient back four had to be on their toes once more as play resumed. Firstly David Mirfin and then Clarke threw their bodies on the line, as Neil Harris’ side pushed for the breakthrough.
The hosts continued to press forward, and they would spurn another opportunity as Tony Craig lashed a loose ball widely over the crossbar from just inside the box.
Craig’s miss could have nearly been costly, as a matter of moments later, Neal Bishop acrobatically went for goal. The midfielder did well to find space in a crowded penalty area, but his effort ultimately flew wide of the target.
By this point the Iron were really starting to get into their stride, and they had another sight of goal just after the hour mark as Josh Morris took aim from distance. Reminiscent of his away strike at Northampton earlier on in the campaign, the winger picked the ball up around 25-yards from goal and let fly, but on this occasion he couldn’t find the top corner, as the effort flashed over.
Next up to try his luck was the skipper Dawson, whose determined run deserved more, as he fired wide following a driving burst into the Lions’ penalty area. The Irishman was then the instigator for another United opportunity - winning a free-kick which Morris subsequently fired at Jordan Archer.
Millwall did their best to force an opening in the closing stages, but Alexander’s side were terrific, and held out for a more than deserved draw on their travels.
Millwall: Archer, Cummings (Romeo 62), Hutchinson, Craig, Williams, Gregory, Wallace, Webster, Ferguson (O’Brien 74), Morison, Abdou.
Substitutes not used: Worrall, Thompson, Onyedinma, Cooper, King.
Scunthorpe United: Anyon, Wallace, Mirfin, Dawson (Mantom 90), Madden, Morris, Bishop, Townsend, Toney, Ness, Clarke.
Substitutes not used: Watson, van Veen, Toffolo, Holmes, Davies, Sutton.
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