Kyle Wootton fired in the winner as the Iron reserves overcame a strong Hartlepool reserve side 1-0 at Glanford Park.The youthful Scunthorpe side’s energetic start to the game saw them take the lead and manage to maintain a strong stranglehold on the game as they dealt with a physical test from the away side, mainly from striker Marlon Harewood.
Seven of Hartlepool’s starting XI played in their loss to Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup on Friday so posed a competitive test for the home side. Trialist Victor Zapata-Caicedo direct and skilful play impressed, particularly in the first half, and his assist for Wootton’s goal was the highlight of the game.
The first half started with lots of Iron possession in the middle of the pitch with Matt Sparrow pulling the strings and linking well with Zapata-Caicedo and Hakeeb Adelakun on either wing. The hosts were pushing Hartlepool further and further towards their own goal and after just two minutes Adelakun almost released Wootton with a through ball but his pass wasn’t quite good enough to find his target.
Zapata-Caicedo’s energy out on the right wing was proving a real menace to the Pools’ defence and he created a fantastic opening for himself when his tireless work rate without the ball forced a poor back pass, which the trialist pounced upon.
His prodded effort from six yards, with Hartlepool goalkeeper Scott Flinders bearing down on him, was heading for the net but a deflection from Flinder’s leg steered it past the post. The resulting corner saw another chance as Adelakun’s outswinger was met by the head of Billy Kee, however the former Burton striker couldn’t find a strong enough connection and it drifted wide.
Despite lots of Iron possession, the away side were causing a few problems to the Iron back line as long balls up to Marlon Harewood seemed to stick to the former Premier League striker as he brought his team mates into play.
He set up Pools’ first effort when he set up Jonathan Franks, who was the standout player for the visitors, but the winger’s effort was comfortably collected by Bobby Olejnik, in the Scunthorpe net.
The first goal of the afternoon came after 10 minutes as a tackle in midfield broke to the lively Zapata-Caicedo, who had Kyle Wootton in support, and his inch perfect pass took the remaining defenders out of the game and left Wootton through one on one with Flinders.
The youngster finished with a strong, left footed strike to put the home side ahead and continue his good goalscoring form. Buoyed by the goal, the home side continued to press for an equaliser and the influential play of Zapata-Caicedo was creating all the chances. This time the trialist managed to set up Adelakun into a one on one situation with Flinders, but on this occasion the Hartlepool goalkeeper managed to make a terrific save from point blank range.
The first real scare for Olejnik came after half an hour, when Michael Woods controlled the ball on his thigh from the edge of the area, looped the ball over his and defender Reece Mosonya’s head and struck a fierce volley that swerved right of the Scunthorpe post. The away side were starting to grow into the game and a last ditch header from Iron captain Taron Hare denied Franks a goalscoring opportunity. The Scunthorpe midfield managed to steady the play before half time as Levi Sutton and Matt Sparrow kept possession for the home side to run down the clock before the interval.
Hartlepool made two changes at the break as they brought Harewood and Woods off and replaced them with Scott Fenwick and Brad Walker. The tempo of the second half was a lot more laboured than the start of the first, with less accurate passing from both sides leading to a scrappy opening. Despite Hartlepool managing to push further up the field, the first chance of the second period fell to a Scunthorpe player and it was Billy Kee who saw a chance open up as the away side failed to clear an Adelakun corner.
When a clearance header dropped to the edge of the area, Kee had time to pick his spot but couldn’t find his way past the numerous bodies crowded in the area and the chance was missed. A final change for Hartlepool saw Dan Jones enter the field to replace Lewis Hawkins and this seemed to strengthen the visitors as they started to create more openings. Firstly, a cross from Jones was inches away from picking out the stand out attacking player for Hartlepool, winger Franks.
Then Franks created an opening from a set piece but smashed the ball over the top of the crossbar and substitute Fenwick curled an effort with his left foot but couldn’t quite put enough bend to find the far corner. The best opening for the away side came after 64 minutes as Jones found tonnes of room on the edge of the area but his shot, that was destined for the bottom corner, was kept out by Niall Canavan’s courageous block.
With Hartlepool starting to build an increasing presence on proceedings, the Scunthorpe midfield decided to repeat what they did at the end of the first half and keep possession.
Sutton and Sparrow once again started stringing the passes in midfield but the more experienced Sparrow was brought off, as manager Andy Dawson made his first change of the night bringing on Curtis Bateson. Billy Kee, who had been playing in behind Kyle Wootton came off, came off for Noel Burdett but Kee’s last action saw him release the goalscorer Wootton, who laid it back to Adelakun but his brilliant cross didn’t get the result it deserved as Kee and Zapata-Caicedo were caught on their heels.
A final change saw Adelakun leave the field and Callum Howe come on and fill in at right back, as Reece Mosonya moved into a more attacking role and Wootton moved onto the right wing.
The new players and rejigged formation saw an added energy in the Scunthorpe passing, with Burdett in particular looking confident with the ball. Wootton showed his defensive ability, to go alongside his terrific goalscoring, when a Franks through ball set right back Jordan Richards through on goal but before he could pull the trigger the Iron striker produced a fantastic tackle to maintain the home side’s lead.
As the game drew to a close both sides seemed to lose their impetus to try and find a second and, despite a slight incident between Burdett and Hartlepool’s Matty Dolan, the game fizzled out. Dawson’s side earned their second consecutive victory as they overcame a strong Hartlepool side 1-0, thanks to Wootton.