The Iron earnt a hard-fought 2-0 win over newly promoted Mansfield Town in their season opener at Glanford Park.Both goals came in the first half as the Iron cruised into a two goal lead going into halftime, thanks to strikes from Matt Sparrow and Sam Winnall.
Despite Mansfield pressure in the second half, United held onto their two-goal lead even though Nolan was sent off late into the game.
United started the game with six summer signings in the first eleven, although it was Mansfield who had the first chance of the game after only two minutes. Stags forward Lee Stevenson received the ball just inside the penalty area, but with Scunthorpe players quick to close him down, he could only drag his shot wide of the left hand post.
With Glanford Park packed and both sets of fans in high spirits, neither side took charge of the opening five minutes of the game, with both teams getting crosses in the box, but not really challenging the goalkeepers.
Mansfield built on their early chance by opening up another opportunity for themselves. New signing Sam Clucas picked the ball up on the left side and confidently weaved his way through Nolan and Hawkridge. However, his strike wasn’t enough to truly test Slocombe, who comfortably clutched onto the former Hereford midfielder’s shot.
The Stags continued to control the early stages of the first half. Clucas again involved after winning a free kick for the Yellows just outside the Iron’s area, however Jenning’s free kick was easily blocked by a solid Scunthorpe wall.
It took until the 22nd minute for Scunthorpe to have their first meaningful chance. Welsh whipped in a free kick on the right hand side of the Mansfield penalty area. It was cleared by the Mansfield defence but fell to Iron captain Michael Collins outside the box, whose 25 yard strike went high and wide of the visitors' goal.
The Iron continued to put pressure on the Mansfield team and found the net 30 minutes into the game. Hawkridge ran at the opposition defence and played it out wide to Welsh. Welsh crossed the ball into the box which appeared to have floated over everybody apart from recently returned midfielder Sparrow, who hit the ball confidently into the near corner of the net beyond Alan Marriott.
Hawkridge again caused problems for the newly promoted side. He collected the ball just inside the opponents half, dodged past three defenders before being fouled on the edge of the area. Dawson took the resulting free kick and it was well caught by Marriott.
With 10 minutes to go until half-time, the former Gainsborough Trinity man again was involved in the action, feeding through Sam Winnall. Winnall’s touch just gave him too much to do and was blocked well by the keeper.
It wasn’t long until Scunthorpe scored again. Winnall broke the offside trap and pounced onto a long ball by Hawkridge. The former Wolves man took a touch past the keeper and ran after the loose ball before cooling tapping it into an empty net to make it 2-0 to the Iron with five minutes to go until the break.
Scunthorpe saw out the final few minutes of the first half to go into half-time leading. This is despite Mansfield striker, Matthew Rhead, hitting the crossbar from a header deep inside the Iron box, although he was quickly adjudged to be offside.
Scunthorpe began the second half how they finished the first, after winning a corner from a long ball by Slocombe with 46 minutes on the clock. The set piece was passed short to Hawkridge, who couldn’t pick and Iron player out when he put the ball in the box.
After an uneventful 10 minutes, the next chance again fell to United in 58th minute. Collins burst into the box after a surging run. The ball was dragged back to Eddie Nolan who put the ball across goal. Welsh was waiting at the back post and his header was inches away from making it 3-0.
Mansfield Town made changes but it didn’t alter the change of play as Scunthorpe continued to press. Winnall received the ball from Dawson after some good play down the left side of the pitch. His shot was well blocked by a Stags defender. It was back to Dawson and eventually fizzled out for a goal kick.
Mansfield did start to work their way back into the game and had a glorious opportunity to get one back for the Stags. Defender Lee Beevers crossed the ball into the box which was well met by Ross Dyer, however his glancing header just went past the post.
With the clock ticking down, United held on to possession well and continuing to carve out chances. A shot by Andy Welsh was blocked by a resolute Mansfield defence, however the resulting corner couldn’t find an Iron head.
Mansfield were given a lifeline in 89th minute when Clucas’ cross was adjudged to have been handled by Nolan, who was given a red card for a second bookable offence. However, substitute Louis Briscoe couldn’t convert the penalty after blazing it way over the bar.
After the announcement of five minutes added time, Mansfield did continue to press following the missed penalty, but the Iron defence stood strong and held on to a well-deserved 2-0 lead.
It was a very confident performance by Brian Laws men and they deserved the three points on the opening day of the season.
Next up for the Iron is an away trip to Barnsley in the Capital One Cup.
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe, Nolan, Mirfin, Canavan, Dawson, Hawkridge, Sparrow, Collins (capt), Welsh (Clark 88), Burton (Iwelumo 81), Winnall (Godden 77).
Substitutes not used: Severn, Ribeiro, McAllister, Howe.
Mansfield Town: Marriott, Beevers, Dempster, McCombe, Jennings, Murray (capt), Howell, Stevenson (Meikle 50), Clucas, Dyer (Briscoe 70), Rhead (Palmer 61).
Substitutes: McGuire, Sutton, Speight, Deakin.
Attendance: 5,241 (1,500 away).
Sponsors' man of the match: Terry Hawkridge.
Iron Bar man of the match: Matt Sparrow.