The Iron’s first Emirates FA Cup fixture of the campaign ended in a 0-0 draw, setting up what is sure to be an intriguing encounter on Tuesday night under the lights for the replay at St James Park.
Following last weekends abandoned fixture against Buxton, Iron manager Jimmy Dean's squad looked towards the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round fixture against a fellow National League North title challenging side in Brackley.
Right-back Reagan Ogle suffered an injury during last weekend’s encounter allowing summer signing Michael Kelly to slot seamlessly into the starting XI in replace of the Australian. In other team news, Heart of Midlothian loanee Michael Smith dropped to the bench for the fixture and was replaced by promising midfielder Jack Jenkins who was making his first start in claret and blue.
The visitors got the tie underway, and the early anticipation of an exciting tie was clear to see for those in attendance. After 10 minutes of half chances being exchanged, the Iron were able to register the game’s first shot on target from a signature Danny Whitehall free kick. The effort was struck well from 25 yards, beating the wall, only to be denied by Danny Lewis in between the sticks.
Academy graduate Cameron Wilson had started the game brightly causing all kinds of problems for the Saints defence. On the 17th minute mark, Wilson was brought down in the area after a dazzling run, cries for a penalty a rang out around Glanford Park, but referee Alex Sawden was unphased allowing play to continue much to the wingers’ dismay.
The early chances had all but dried up until the 35th minute when the away side produced the encounter’s best chance so far. Experienced forward Dom McHale latched onto a ball in behind, his touch was good, but the finish forced an unorthodox save out of goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons.
As the half drew to a close United looked keen on taking an advantage into half time and that nearly materialised through Whitehall who, after a scramble in the area, flicked his boot towards the ball six-yards out, however his effort dropped just over the bar for a goal kick.
After the referee indicated one minute of additional time, the last action of the first half almost resulted in the visitors taking the lead. Winger Cosmos Matwasa’s trickery allowed him to send a dangerous low drive cross towards the penalty spot that met the boot of joint league top scorer Danny Newton, but his attempt was incredibly denied by Fitzsimons from point blank range to keep the scores level at the break.
The Iron resumed play after the break and whatever Dean said in the dressing room seemed to be having a positive effect when tireless midfielder Fin Shrimpton’s inch perfect cross reached Danny Elliott at the near post. His flick rattled the post to the relief of Lewis in the visitor’s goal.
Chances were few and far between in the first half but now both sides desire of avoiding a Tuesday night replay in Northamptonshire was beginning to show.
Once again, United went close on 54 minutes. After some excellent interplay on the edge of the Saints area, the ever-working Shrimpton received the ball with time to shoot, though his effort trickled just wide of the far post.
By the 80th minute, the game seemed to be heading toward a repeat fixture as neither side were able to take advantage of what little chances they could create. Dean went to his bench introducing Smith and striker Richie Bennett to the action and it almost appeared a masterstroke when Kelly’s deep cross sailed through a sea of bodies before kindly finding Smith at the back post, who was unfortunate as his poke towards goal cannoned back off the upright.
The encounters result was finalised but the score line could’ve been a different story in the second minute of addition time when Elliott cut inside and unleashed a stunning goal bound drive that stung the palms of Lewis, which was closely followed by the full-time whistle.
The Iron travel away for a replay on Tuesday night which will be a 7:45pm kick-off.
IRON: Fitzsimons, Kelly, Kouogun, Evans, Elliott, Wilson (Smith, 74), Shrimpton, Denton, Whitehall (Bennett, 78).
IRON SUBS: Chapman, Boyce, Sembie-Ferris, Barrows.