The Iron were defeated 2-0 away from home against a well drilled and in-form Chester FC team.
After an extended two-week break Jimmy Dean’s Iron squad were back on the road at the Leap76 Stadium in what would the first meeting between United and Chester since the Seals reformation in 2010.
For his first game back in a stadium since a recent back operation, Dean made one change to the starting XI from two weeks prior when Scunthorpe triumphed with a 1-0 win over Brackley. Ross Barrows made a return to United’s defence in place of Cameron Wilson, signifying a change in shape for the Iron against a formidable home outfit.
Following a change of ends, the Seals got the game under way through captain George Glendon. The games intensity and tone were set from the off as inform striker Danny Elliott was inches away from latching onto a Tyler Denton lofted pass down the left flank, despite having the pace to get passed former Bolton Wanderers defender Liam Edwards he was marginally beaten to the ball by goalkeeper Wyll Stanway, who comfortably cleared the ball for a throw.
A recurring theme of misplaced passes occupied the game’s opening stages. The heavy rainfall leading up to kick-off appeared to be playing part despite the glistening skies at Chester as the slippery surface meant that neither side was able to take control of the possession.
Following Elliot’s early chance, he seemed to have sustained an injury, this forced the Iron into an early change as he was replaced by top goal scorer Danny Whitehall. The substitution provided United with another attacking outlet and this newly added attacking height was looking to be utilised by United as a flurry of crosses ensued but to no avail.
With an opener looming, it was believed to be found through Scunthorpe captain Andrew Boyce who expertly met a Jacob Butterfield cross, providing a clinical touch to take the ball past Stanway and into the net. The travelling Iron faithful’s celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee’s outstretched flag.
Soon after the disallowed goal, United went close again, this time through Butterfield who went inches away from repeating his magnificent free-kick goal against Brackley, but this time was his brilliant looping effort was denied by the crossbar, much to the relief of a well beaten Stanway.
In a game controlled by the Iron, it was the hosts against the run of play that found the encounter's first goal. Promising attacking threat Charlie Caton reacted first to a loose Jack Jenkins back pass and slipped the ball around the onrushing Ross Fitzsimons in goal, before tapping the ball into an open goal to give the Seals an advantage with 10 minutes of the first half still to play.
As the half’s end drew nearer, the hosts seemed intent on building upon their lead, sending multiple long ranged efforts hurtling towards Fitzsimons who caught them comfortably under no real pressure. Despite the home side possessing the lead, the Iron were by no means out of the game, still creating numerous half chances including an acrobatic effort from Richie Bennett on the stroke of half time that stung the palms of Stanway between the posts.
As referee William Davis’ whistle sounded to begin the second half, the Iron were left with a mountain to climb against a side that had only lost once at home all season. The hosts started the brighter as they looked to add to the lead they’d amassed so far in the proceedings.
With five minutes played, the home side came mere inches away from doubling their lead through substitute and debutant Tom Peers. Peers broke away from Will Evans who shied away from any form of backtracking challenge given his first half booking, the shot was low driven, but pulled well wide of Fitzsimons’s target.
While Scunthorpe saw a goal disallowed in the first period of play, it was now the Seals' turn as the flag was raised to deny Peers his debut goal due to him being narrowly offside whilst tapping the ball home on a rebound.
Scunthorpe’s misplaced passes were tallying up, and the Iron would be punished as a result. Former Scunthorpe midfielder Elliott Whitehouse broke free and devastatingly rifled an effort into the top corner of Fitzsimons’ goal, doubling the home sides lead and further fortifying Chester’s lead with 25 minutes of play remaining.
Following the second goal of the tie the referee Davis was forced to leave the field with an injury. During the next 10 minutes that ensued a plea was sounded on the tannoy for a qualified referee that was answered by a spectator within the Leap76 Stadium meaning that play could continue.
After the change in officiating personal the game slowly ebbed away with neither side creating a great deal of chances meaning the Iron were condemned to only their third league defeat of the season after being comfortably seen off 2-0 on the Welsh border.
IRON: Fitzsimons, Ogle, Evans, Boyce, Elliott (Whitehall, 10), Bennett (Wilson, 61), Butterfield, Scales, Jenkins, Denton, Barrows (Law, 84).
IRON SUBS: Kelly, Pugh.