A hat-trick from Josh Morris capped a fine team performance, as the Iron ran out 4-1 victors over Walsall at the Banks’s Stadium.Morris’ three goals were also added to by Neal Bishop, who found the net in style on his 500th career start.
There were two changes to the side which started against Sheffield United, as Sam Mantom and Tom Hopper came into the starting eleven, in place of Stephen Dawson and Kevin van Veen.
It was almost a lightning start to the game for Graham Alexander’s men and for Duane Holmes who, after opening his Iron account at the weekend, nearly doubled it 14 seconds in. The American did well initially to find space on the left, and then struck a shot that flashed wide of Neil Etheridge’s goal.
The Saddlers couldn’t cope with United early on, and shortly after Holmes’ attempt, Jordan Clarke unleashed a dangerous effort, and an effort that needed saving, as Etheridge beat the ball away at his near post.
Because of their fast-paced opening, there wasn’t too much surprise around the ground when the visitors took the lead on ten minutes. They went ahead from the penalty spot, with a handball in the area giving Morris the chance to slot home his ninth goal of the season. The winger didn’t disappoint, and placed his kick emphatically into the roof of the net.
Morris’ tally for the campaign was soon into double figures, and Scunthorpe were flying. Following a strong burst down the middle by Hopper, the striker’s low drive ricocheted into the path of Morris, who had the simplest of tasks, as he slotted into an empty Walsall goal.
Scunthorpe didn’t manage to find what would have been that all important third though and, on the brink of half-time, Walsall got themselves a foothold in proceedings, as Erhun Oztumer fired into the bottom corner of the goal.
The Iron’s lead could have been wiped out all together if not for a miraculous stop from Luke Daniels. When Simeon Jackson wriggled his way free in the box, it looked like there’d be only one outcome. However, he was thwarted by the Scunthorpe stopper’s outstretched leg, to send the away side into the break ahead.
Whatever Alexander told his players at the interval clearly had a profound effect on his players and, just four minutes after the resumption of play, the two goal buffer was restored. When Morris’ cross from the left was headed away, the hosts thought they’d cleared their lines, but Mantom and Holmes both did superbly to feed an onrushing Bishop, who crashed the ball past Etheridge and into the net.
The attacking impetus was with United, and three could have soon been four when Harry Toffolo’s left-footed thunderbolt from the edge of the area drew a good save out of Etheridge.
The Walsall 'stopper was certainly kept busy, with former Saddlers player Mantom the next to test him. Etheridge did well though, and foiled the midfielder with a smart stop.
If anyone epitomised Scunthorpe’s performance it was Hopper, and he went close to grabbing a goal for himself with just over ten minutes left on the clock. Once more though, Etheridge was up to the task, as he pushed the striker’s glancing header out for a corner.
A marvellous night for both Morris and the Iron was capped by the midfielder moments later. Substitute Scott Wiseman did well to find him, and Morris did the rest, curling the ball exquisitely into the top corner of the goal, to seal his hat trick.
Not too long after coming on, Kevin van Veen went within a whisker of getting in on the act. A long ball over the top got the Dutchman in, but his near perfectly-weighted lob clipped the top of the crossbar, and went out for a goal kick.
Walsall did their best to reduce the arrears late on and had a goal disallowed but, in truth, Alexander’s men were always in complete control, and duly deserved their comprehensive victory.
Walsall: Etheridge, O’Connor, McCarthy, Chambers, Cuvelier (Moussa, 53), Jackson, Oztumer, Morris (Makris, 73), Osbourne (Bakayoko, 53), Kinsella, Toner.
Substitutes not used: MacGillivray, Dobson, Preston, Kouhyar.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Wallace, Mirfin, Morris, Bishop, Hopper (van Veen, 84), Toffolo, Mantom, Smallwood, Holmes (Dawson, 78), Clarke (Wiseman, 46).
Substitutes not used: Anyon, Madden, Adelakun, Goode.
Attendance: 3,970 (209 away).
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