The Iron missed their chance to move into the automatic promotion positions for the first time this season, crashing to a shock 4-1 defeat to York City at Bootham Crescent.
An incredible opening twenty minutes saw the Iron three goals down courtesy of strikes from Josh Carson, Wes Fletcher and Ryan Brobbel before the latter added his second of the game just before the break with a splendid volley.
United rallied in the second half, but despite pulling a goal back early on through Sam Winnall, had left themselves far too much to do with York’s advantage rarely looking likely to be seriously challenged.
Iron manager Brian Laws continued his recent theme of trying different formations, this time opting for a 5-3-2 approach with Christian Ribeiro taking up a wing-back position on the right after an impressive weekend cameo off the bench. Making way for Ribeiro was Jimmy Spencer, with Matt Sparrow – returning after missing the win over Hartlepool with minor ankle injury – also preferred to Terry Hawkridge in central midfield.
Meanwhile, York City manager Nigel Worthington made three changes to the side which went down 2-0 at home to Fleetwood Town on Saturday with Lanre Oyebanjo, Ryan Jarvis and David McGurk replaced in the starting line-up by Tom Allan, Fletcher and Ryan Bowman – all three of whom came off the bench against The Cod Army.
The home side got the game underway, and made a dream start to the match by scoring in the very first attack of the game within the opening two minutes; the recalled Fletcher flicked on to Carson, who determinedly surged through midfield before letting fly with a fierce effort which took a wicked deflection of Cliff Byrne to fly past Sam Slocombe and into the net much to the delight of the home fans.
To their credit, the Iron responded well to the early set-back, and typically energetic work from Sam Winnall won the visitors their first corner in the sixth minute. Although the set-piece chance came to nothing, the Iron continued to push forward as they sought to get back on level terms, but had cause for concern in the eighth minute when Niall Canavan went down injured away from play – with the dependable defender having to limp to the side-lines for treatment.
With ten minutes on the clock, David Syers almost worked his way past the Minstermen back-line, but the on-loan midfielder missed his kick just as looked set to pick out either Burton or Winnall in promising positions.
The home side then made the most of Syers’ slip by immediately surging down the other end and doubling their lead, making it a nightmare start for the Iron. Having survived a scare in defence, the hosts worked the ball to Fletcher in the penalty-area, and the former Burnley man showed excellent foot-work to turn his man and create space before lashing a left-footed effort beyond Slocombe into the top left-hand corner on 12 minutes.
Brian Laws had seen enough, and with little over 16 minutes gone the Iron manager used the injury suffered by Canavan as a ready-made excuse to introduce winger Etienne Esajas and revert to a more classic 4-4-2. The tactical change saw Sparrow move to the right-hand side of midfield, with Esajas taking up a position on the left.
The Iron looked visibly shaken by the terrific start made by the Minstermen, and were struggling to get a foothold in the game – to the extent where York increased their lead to three with just twenty minutes on the clock. A seemingly innocuous free-kick on half-way was drifted into the Iron penalty-area, and after a brief period of pinball in the box, the ball eventually fell to Ryan Brobbel who continued his sides theme of showing excellent composure in front of goal by calmly side-stepping Byrne before curling into the top right-hand corner to give his side a seemingly unassailable 3-0 lead.
Barely minutes later, it could have been worse, with Slocombe scrambling to his left as a long-range effort from Carson flew just wide. The home side, clearly buoyed by their incredible start, continued to push forward, and Elliott Whitehouse was next to try his luck from distance but his tame effort was easily dealt with by Slocombe. It was Whitehouse himself who was then first to go in the referees book on 25 minutes after a foul in midfield, and he was joined by Syers little over two minutes later for a similar offence.
Once again, the home side looked to attack, and as the game approached the half-hour mark they were awarded a free-kick deep on the right. The set-piece almost gave them their fourth goal of the evening – the deep delivery nodded back across to Fletcher whose hooked effort was blocked by the Iron defence before they cleared their lines.
That fourth goal continued to elude York, although they came even closer on 37 minutes. A great run down the right-wing by the impressive Fletcher gave him the chance to send a fizzing ball across the six-yard-box, where a goal seemed inevitable until a superb last-ditch block by Sean McAllister. Despite being denied, the Minstermen kept coming, and next to go close was Lewis Montrose who strode through midfield before sending a poorly-struck effort straight at Slocombe.
The Iron wouldn’t make it to the break without suffering further damage however, although there was little they could do about the fourth when it finally came. An inch-perfect cross from O’Neill found Brobbel just inside the area, and the winger crashed a stunning first-time volley out of Slocombe’s reach for his second of the match.
As the game edged towards a much-needed half-time break for the Iron, referee Madley administered the third yellow card of the evening as Andy Dawson was booked on 43 minutes for a foul on halfway when York were looking set to break once more. United were desperate to take some kind of consolation into the interval, but spurned a couple of opportunities to get the ball into dangerous areas. In fact, it was the hosts who could have gone even further ahead with Slocombe called into action at a set-piece just before the break as an extremely disappointing half for the Iron drew to a close.
Having witnessed a nightmare first period, Brian Laws sent his side out early for the second half as they faced up to the improbable task of rescuing what appeared to be a lost cause. The home side opted to make a change during the break, replacing Tom Allan with Chris Smith – making his first appearance after a recent injury.
Brian Laws’ team-talk appeared to have done the trick, as the Iron pulled one back almost immediately after the re-start; a deflected Sparrow cross from the right bounced kindly for Sam Winnall, who looped a volley home to reduce the deficit to three before a muted celebration to give his side a life-line on 47 minutes.
Despite still having plenty to do to pull the game back, the goal appeared to give United confidence at least, and they started to control the midfield battles much to the chagrin of the York faithful – who were perhaps unnerved by the manner in which their side had surrendered the total control they had exhibited before Winnall’s strike.
In desperately attempting to get back into the game, the Iron were leaving themselves open to the threat of a counter-attack from the pacey front-line, and on 56 minutes Bowman got in behind Dawson before feeding Carson on – with the former Ipswich man’s cut-back from the by-line evading everyone and eventually being cleared to safety.
Carson was to have just one more meaningful involvement in the game – testing Slocombe with an ambitious effort from a tight angle before being substituted in favour of one-time Leicester City youth player Ashley Chambers on 58 minutes to a well-deserved standing ovation from the home support.
The Iron responded in kind just after the hour, withdrawing Syers in order to give a run out to young winger Hakeeb Adelakun – who impressed in his brief stint off the bench in recent the defeat to Exeter. The change almost paid immediate dividends for the Iron, with Winnall carrying the ball up-field on 63 minutes before earning a corner as the referee deemed his left-footed shot to have been diverted wide.
United completed their final substitution on 67 minutes, introducing Terry Hawkridge in place of Sparrow – who had taken a knock. Within seconds of the change being made, York’s lead was almost restored to four as a long-range drive from Montrose cannoned off the post with Slocombe beaten. The rebound fell kindly for the Iron, who broke up-field in numbers only to lack a cutting-edge when it truly mattered as Esajas’ saw his shot from distance blocked.
Such profligacy in front of goal could have cost the Iron further soon after when an in-swinging corner from Brobbel – searching for the goal required to complete his hat-trick – dropped onto the top of the bar much to Slocombe’s relief on 75 minutes. Having survived a set-piece scare, United then went up-field and forced a corner of their own when Hawkridge’s dinked free-kick appeared set to find Byrne before being headed behind by the York defence – who would go on to clear the resulting corner with ease.
As the game moved into the final ten minutes, York made their final substitution of the evening by replacing the outstanding Fletcher with Ryan Jarvis. The Minstermen may have regretted using their allowed changes not long after however, with O’Neill needing treatment on 83 minutes after going down injured – but the right-back soon returned to the field to earn his side a throw-in deep in Iron territory as his side looked to see out the closing stages with minimum concern.
A flurry of late chances then fell the Iron’s way as they looked to restore more respectability to the score-line in the final minutes, with David Mirfin going close twice in quick succession; first heading over from a wide angle, before then crashing against the bar with another header as the fourth official indicated four minutes of added time.
There was to be no late consolation – other than that of Winnall’s earlier on – added however, with referee Madley soon blowing for time to complete a miserable evening for the Iron.
The result leaves the Iron in eight place in League Two, facing a tricky-looking trip to fourth placed Chesterfield on Saturday.
York City: Ingham; Davies, Parslow (capt.), Allan (Smith, 45), O’Neill; Brobbel, Montrose, Carson (Chambers, 58), Whitehouse; Bowman, Fletcher (82).
Substitutes not used: Kettings, Cresswell, Platt, Puri.
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe; Dawson (capt.), Ribeiro, Canavan (Esajas, 16), Mirfin, Byrne; Sparrow (Hawkridge, 67), McAllister, Syers (Adelakun, 61); Burton, Winnall.
Substitutes not used: Severn, Iwelumo, Waterfall, Spencer.
Referee: Andy Madley (West Yorkshire).
Attendance: 3636 (737 away).