The Iron made it another memorable evening under the lights of Glanford Park by triumphing 3-1 over high flying South Shields.
Jimmy Dean’s Iron returned home to face newly promoted South Shields in what was set up to be a top of the table clash. Having drawn 2-2 with Alfreton on Saturday at the Impact Arena, the lads were looking to return to winning ways although it was bound to be difficult against a formidable Mariners team.
New signing Connor Smith came straight into United’s squad for Saturdays encounter and made an immediate impact after coming on whilst there was half an hour remaining. Smith remained on the bench for this fixture but this time he was joined by another new addition as the Iron welcomed back striker Richie Bennett on Monday. In other team news, hard-working midfielder Kian Scales was dismissed in the sixth minute on Saturday for which he will receive a three-game ban, but because from Step 2 and below red cards take seven days to come into effect, he was available for this fixture.
The visitors got the game underway, and it was clear that both sides were ready to implement their slick passing styles of play onto the game from the off. The Iron started the brighter of the two sides and when Danny Elliott cut in onto his weaker left foot before unleashing a tremendous curling effort that was destined for the top corner, if not for the acrobatic efforts of Mariners 'keeper Myles Boney who managed to tip the ball over the bar.
After seven minutes of United possession, Scunthorpe made it 1-0 through Scales, who more than made up for Saturday's red card as he had made darting run into the area where he met striker Danny Whitehall’s inch perfect cross to turn the ball into the net, giving the Iron the advantage.
The travelling Shields went in search of an immediate reply and their faithful believed they’d found it when winger Jordy Mongoy sent a dazzling ball into the box which found the head of former Harrogate striker Aaron Martin. Martin’s header seemed to be finding the bottom corner but was denied by centre-back Will Evans’ head.
Minutes later, the Iron showed their determination to bounce back from Saturday’s draw by doubling the lead in what was turning out to be a dominant first half display. After a lofted long ball forward from the back was sent soaring towards Cameron Wilson down the left flank, his lay-off magnificently found Elliott who was left alone in the area. He slowed down the play before burying the ball into the helpless Boney’s net.
United’s period of dominance continued throughout the first half with Boney again forced into making another acrobatic stop this time denying captain Jacob Butterfield's long ranged strike. From the resulting corner the Iron came close again, when summer signing Max Kouogun rose highest to meet a Wilson cross, but his header left the bar reverberating.
With 10 minutes of the half remaining, the visitors found a way back into the tie after Mongoy’s run in behind was controversially deemed onside. The former Dagenham and Redbridge man whipped a dangerous ball in that was turned goalward by Martin. Kouogun had done his best to try prevent the goal but in doing so he turned the ball into his own net making it 2-1.
As the half drew to its closing stage, the Iron were looking to restore their two-goal advantage. That mission wasn’t far from being found in the form of a signature Butterfield long range effort, with the shot struck powerfully from 20 yards, but just dipped over Boney’s bar in what was the last action of the half.
As play resumed for the second half neither side showed any sign of slowing down. After both sides interchanging passes neatly, the first opportunity was presented to Whitehall for the Iron who stood over a free kick on the edge of the area. The effort appeared to be goal bound but was denied by the four-strong Mariners wall.
The visitors had began to grow into the game, and with half an hour remaining they came the closest to an equaliser yet. A hoisted ball back into the area after a corner, which had originally been cleared, managed to catch out the Iron offside line. This left Martin Smith alone in the area, however his strike was expertly smothered by Fitzsimons at close range.
With 25 to go, Glanford Park were introduced to Smith, who joined on a season long loan from Heart of Midlothian. The midfielder almost made an instant impact as he played creator when he whipped a ball to Whitehall. His headed cross set up Elliott for an acrobatic effort that soared just wide of the mark.
The balance had shifted back to United in the fixtures' closing stages, and the game was finally put out of sight from the spot. Smith’s tricky feet inside the area tormented his marker who brought the Scottish international down, signalling a Scunthorpe penalty. Whitehall stepped up to take and he banished the woes of his penalty miss against Peterborough Sports earlier in the campaign by increasing the Iron's lead to 3-1 and sealing all three points in a pivotal game.
The Iron’s 3-1 victory sends us back to the summit of the National league North after a superb team performance that was capped off by three stunning goals.
IRON: Fitzsimons, Ogle, Kouogun, Evans, Elliott (Sembie-Ferris, 82), Wilson (Smith, 66), Butterfield (Kelly, 75), Scales, Shrimpton, Denton, Whitehall.
IRON SUBS: Boyce, Bennett.