United secured a safe passage through to the Lincolnshire Senior Cup Semi-Final, after a 3-0 win over Grimsby Town at Glanford ParkTwo goals came in a dramatic final few minutes of a keenly contested affair.
David Mirfin stuck for the Iron in the first-half, before late finishes from substitutes Sam Winnall and Deon Burton added gloss to the score-line.
The hosts made a positive start to the match, with an early Etienne Esajas cross from the left almost finding debutant Chris Iwelumo in the penalty-area after impressive hold-up play from the Iron’s new front-man.
With seven minutes gone, Terry Hawkridge was dispossessed in midfield, allowing Grimsby to break and produce the first moment of concern for either keeper. A bouncing cross from the right was met on the half-volley by Paddy McLaughlin, whose deflected shot sailed wide of Sam Slocombe’s right-hand post for the first corner of the match - which was duly cleared by The Iron defence.
Having been on the back-foot for the opening stages, Grimsby continued to cause problems for the home side. On 16 minutes the pacy Thomas Aswadover-lapped expertly on the leftflank before sending a low cross into the penalty-area, with the away side only denied by some last-ditch Iron defending.
There was concern in the stands six minutes later, as Andy Dawson came off worse in a clash with Grimsby’s Alex Rodman and was forced to limp off, with Iron manager Brian Laws taking the precautionary measure of replacing the player-coach with Andy Welsh, as Eddie Nolan reverted to left-back and Hawkridge dropped into the right-back berth.
Scunthorpe began to resume control of proceedings as the game moved past the half-hour mark, with a break down the left almost resulting in the opening goal. A swift one-two from Nolan and Sparrow released the Iron defender, who made his way into the penalty-area and sent a teasing delivery across the box. However, the cross was missed by both Iwelumo and Matt Godden, with Grimsby scrambling the ball clear after a frantic goal-mouth melee.
With ten minutes left until the interval, Grimsby threatened Slocombe’s goal once more, with a fizzing shot from Liam Hearn going over from twenty yards. The home side responded superbly however, and moments later took the lead after capitalising from two successive set-pieces.
Firstly, a foul on Iwelumo allowed Andy Welsh to find David Mirfin on the far-right of the six-yard box from a free-kick, only for The Iron defender to see his headed effort deflected wide for a corner. The resultant corner – once again delivered by Welsh – found Mirfin again, who this time was not to be denied as he placed a firm header past McKeown.
Grimsby looked to hit back immediately, and should have been level barely seconds after the re-start. Having created space on the right, a pitch-perfect cross found the unmarked McLaughlin six-yards out, only for his glancing header to go wide of the right-hand post.
The Iron were excelling out wide, and continued to do so as a precise through-ball from Godden found the marauding Esajas on the right – with the Dutch winger cutting inside and sending a rasping left-footed drive straight at McKeown. As the game moved into three minutes of injury-time at the end of the first-half, the impressive Hawkridge beat two players before shooting into the side-netting to round off a frenetic opening period.
Grimsby began the second-half at a quicker tempo than the hosts as they looked to navigate a way back into the contest, only for a number of promising attacks down the left to break down in the final-third.
On 58 minutes the Iron made their final substitutions of the game, as Esajas and Iwelumo were replaced by Deon Burton and Sam Winnall.
Three minutes later, determined work from Godden forced a Scunthorpe corner - only for referee Drysdale to award a free-kick to the visiting side for illegal pressure on McKeown from the newly-introduced Burton as the ball was swung across the area.
With 65 minutes gone, Grimsby made their first change of the afternoon, with Dayle Southwell replacing Alex Rodman. The change came close to producing an equaliser immediately, as Slocombe was forced to produce a fine save low to his right to keep the Iron ahead.
As the match moved into the final quarter, the play became more stretched, with Grimsby committing players forward in search of a leveller – bringing on Ross Hannah in place of Liam Hearn in the 70th minute.
Scunthorpe once again found themselves on top, and should have doubled their lead when a cross from Andy Welsh found Deon Burton at the back-post. However, Burton’s header lacked power and direction, and was gathered easily by McKeown. The Iron continued to search for the second goal, and came close once more when Collins’ drive from distance whistled over the bar.
The away side completed their final substation in the 75th minute, bring Sam Hatton on in place of Paul Bignot.
Controversy reigned in the 78th minute, with Scunthorpe denied what initially appeared a clear goal – clever movement from Hawkridge and Winnall allowed the former to break free into the penalty-area on the right-flank and deliver to the back-post, where Godden sent a header down towards goal. The ball appeared to cross the line, but was desperately hacked away by the Grimsby defence, with referee and linesman adjudging the ball to have remained out of the net.
Not to be outdone, Grimsby has a goal of their own disallowed just three minutes later – as Hannah diverted a driven cross past Slocombe, only to see the linesman flagging for offside.
With time running out, the match became increasingly frantic. The home side came within inches of sealing the tie as Burton, receiving a flick-on from Sparrow, turned expertly before firing a first-time volley just wide as they launched a late siege on the Grimsby goal.
The controversy continued as the game edged closer to injury time, as visiting left-back Aswad was felled in The Iron penalty area – with momentary alarm among the home fans that Drysdale was about to offer Grimsby an escape-route courtesy of a spot-kick. However, to the relief of most inside Glanford Park, the official waved away the protests.
As the board went up to indicate three minutes of injury time, The Iron finally secured a deserved win. A free-kick swung over by Man of the Match Hawkwidge found substitute Winnall, who powered a firm header into the net to make it 2-0.
That would have been more than enough for most Iron fans, but better was to come. With a number of Grimsby players believing play had been stopped for a free-kick shortly after the re-start, Burton acted decisively to lob the stranded McKeown from near the half-way line to complete a superb 3-0 victory.
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe, Dawson (Welsh, 23), Mirfin, Canavan, Sparrow, Iwelumo (Winnall, 58), Esajas (Burton, 58), Hawkridge, Godden, Nolan, Collins (capt.).
Substitutes not used: Severn, Waterfall.
Grimsby Town: McKeown, Bignot (Hatton, 75), Pearson, Doig, Thomas, Kerr, Disley (capt.), McLaughlin, Colbeck, Rodman (Southwell, 65), Hearn (Hannah, 70).
Substitutes not used: Thanoj, Cook.
Twitter supporters' man of the match: Terry Hawkridge.