The Iron tallied three points for the second game in succession and extended their unbeaten run under boss Russ Wilcox to 22 games with an impressive second half display at Glanford Park.The result saw Scunthorpe leapfrog Chesterfield into second place after their early kick-off finished in a stalemate at Mansfield.
United withstood pressure from the Brewers on the break in the first half, remaining patient and steadfast to break their opponents down on several occasions in the second period. A wonder-goal from Paddy Madden on the hour proved enough to earn the win though it could have been more comfortable for all involved in the final fifteen minutes had McSheffrey been able to convert from the spot shortly afterwards.
Following last weekend's victory in the south-west at Plymouth, United manager Russ Wilcox opted to name an unchanged side. Gary Rowett made two changes and reverted to a more defensively minded 4-5-1 formation for the game.
Albion opened brightly, following a few words in a pre-match huddle. The visitors busied United and Robbie Weir provided the first effort on goal with a sighter from 20-yards following good hold-up play from the stocky figure of Billy Kee, an obvious focal point for Burton as the lone striker. On 6 minutes, Mirfin was harried into misplacing possession with McCrory able to profit, bursting towards the box. Canavan tracked well and was able to prevent a shot on target and the corner with a well timed sliding challenge deep inside the penalty area.
Up the other end, McSheffrey was doing his utmost to get the Iron on the front foot. Determined play from Winnall, winning a high ball despite the close attention of Cansdell-Sherriff, saw McSheffrey break down the left. His ball in was driven near-post but Rob Lainton collected comfortably.
The Brewers' stopper was once more called into action minutes later, unexpectedly this time, when a long ball from left-back from Williams was not properly dealt with by Cansdell-Sherriff. The centre-half opted to let the ball bounce with the intention of an easy catch for Lainton. Winnall, however, had anticipated; running in behind the defender and forcing the keeper into scurrying off his line to punch clear.
United had started to build a head of steam down the left flank on the quarter hour. Interchange between Williams and McSheffrey looked hopeful but failed to yield anything in terms of clear cut chances for the top two of Winnall and Madden. Albion meanwhile offered their threat on the counter. A break down the left by Bell left the Iron defending four on three. Kee was the man over, in space on the Albion right. Bell instead elected to pick out the run of Phillips, whose strike earned the visitors the first corner of the game.
Five minutes later, the Brewers bombarded United with a series of three well-placed corners, two of which were cleared in a timely fashion by Williams, well positioned just a couple of yards off the line. McCrory and MacDonald were the two to go close, requiring Williams' interventions and the third saw Holness charge near-post to flick on, but looping instead over the bar.
Dave Syers sought the need to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the midfield with a burst from deep. His pass in to Winnall was then fed out wide to McSheffrey and with Syers continuing his run, the wide man played a precise pass behind the Albion back-four to find United's 10-goal midfielder. Uncharacteristically, Syers touch left much to be desired allowing Edwards to recover and earn the goal kick.
The visitors counter-attacking play proved effective. Sitting back allowed them to pick United off and wait for the chance to maraud forward. On multiple occasions the Iron's back four were each occupied by an Albion body breaking into the final third. With this, it was undisputable that the visitors were having the better of the game in the final third. On the half-hour McAllister narrowly avoided inadvertantly playing Phillips in with a bobbled backpass. The midfielder showed determination to make amends and poke a toe in under pressure from Phillips, who then fouled McAllister.
Burton's defensive shape meant United were forced into a patient approach to build and get beyond the Brewers back-line. Driving with the ball from right-back saw Nolan into the final third and in a position to provide. His disguided ball, with Hawkridge looking the more likely target on the overlap, proved difficult for Cansdell-Sherriff to deal with. The centre-back aimed to get a toe-in with Winnall lurking, his missed clearance looked to have set up the chance for Winnall to follow in on the slide but the ball also evaded his attention.
United had embarked on a stronger spell in possession with ten minutes until the break. On 38 minutes, Hawkridge did well to flick onto Winnall on the spin and under pressure from a Burton man. The striker weaved into the right channel and clipped a ball towards Syers at the near-post. The volley from an acute angle and on the turn looked a difficult technique and so it proved, with United's goalscoring midfielder only able to kick air, much to Lainton's relief.
As the first half drew to a close, the visiting side asserted themselves once more with a flurry of half chances. Front-man Billy Kee took it upon himself to turn and run before firing a snapshot narrowly over the angle. United were called into action from two more set-pieces before the referee brought the first period to its end at nil-all.
With the second-half underway, the Brewers started as they had left off. Kee again the man to try his luck, this time forcing a block from Canavan to earn another corner. The set-piece was drilled in impressively once more, requiring a leap from Canavan to clear. Frustrations abound amongst the home support with United having to remain steadfast and patient for the time being.
Out of the blue a McSheffrey free-kick on 52 minutes almost caught Lainton out. United were now playing with the wind and the winger tried his luck with an audacious attempt, level with the edge of the centre circle. The net rippled as Lainton backpeddled furiously, though it was the roof of the net, much to the disappointment of the Iron support in the Britcon.
Having seen the visitors restart positively after the interval, Wilcox opted to make two changes. Key components in the victory at Plymouth last weekend in a much improved second half performance at Home Park were introduced in Hayes and Adelakun in place of Winnall and Hawkridge respectively. Along with the substitutions came a sense of urgency from the crowd, reflected on the pitch with an upped tempo.
Hayes and Adelakun combined down the right with Paddy Madden. The Irishman's strike with the outside of his right was blocked by Edwards, intercepting McSheffrey's arrival at the back post in a bid to make sure and turn the effort home.
On 59 minutes Madden struck once more following a headed clearance from an Iron free-kick hit long into Brewers territory. This time, the Republic of Ireland man hit a superb swept volley from the edge of the 'D', sidefooted and at some pace beyond Lainton into the top corner. The Iron were now much improved and the support encouraged with a half-hour to play. A series of corners was the culmination of this good spell, combined with some intelligent play from deep by Paul Hayes to force a desperate punched clearance from Lainton with Canavan and Mirfin in the mix.
With twenty minutes to play it was Gary Rowett's turn to roll the dice from the Burton dugout with a double substitution with the Iron now firmly on top. Lee Bell and MacDonald were withdrawn in favour of Knowles and Harness.
Although the substitutions did not provide the immediate impact that Hayes and Adelakun had done for Scunthorpe earlier in the half, Harness did have a half-chance to make his mark five minutes after his introduction. A bouncing ball back to Slocombe by Syers proved difficult for the Iron's skipper to hit clear. His scuffed clearance fell at the feet of Harness with two men over but Williams' industrious backtracking forced the substitute wide, away from danger and clear.
United remained on top following the goal and Albion's changes. With fifteen minutes left to play, a laboured run by Weir in centre-field allowed Syers to nick possession, stealing in to prod onto Madden.
McSheffrey arrived at the right time to overlap and drew the foul from Edwards just inside the box according to referee Eltringham who pointed straight to the spot to offer McSheffrey the chance to make the last quarter-hour of the game more comfortable from the spot. The winger stepped up and slotted left footed. Lainton however had guessed right, saving then smothering the attempt and leaving United a tetchier end to the game than would have been liked.
Inside the last ten minutes chances became more limited for either side. Scunthorpe's spell in the ascendency had been somewhat quelled with the visitors looking to apply the pressure in search of the equaliser.
Albion's play lacked the fluidity and incisiveness of their counter-attacking throughout the first half, reverting more to the long ball. On 85 minutes a free-kick from deep forced Slocombe into a decisive punch with Burton men waiting for the cross to drop their way. Adelakun ended the spell with a clearance which Madden was able to get onto, after outstripping his man for pace. The young winger awaited the return and his first time effort on the sidefoot had Lainton worried but was always curling away from goal and just past the far post.
With the clock ticking down United were keen to whittle away time up the right end of the pitch. Slocombe remained untested as the Iron held firm in possession, adding a second consecutive win and another on the unbeaten tally, now standing at 22 games under Russ Wilcox whose changes saw the Iron spark into life in the second period as at Plymouth to take all three points.
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe, Nolan, Mirfin, Canavan, Williams, Hawkridge (Adelakun, 55), Syers, McAllister, McSheffrey, Winnall (Hayes, 55), Madden.
Substitutes not used: Severn, Ribeiro, Sparrow, Alabi, Waterfall.
Burton Albion: Lainton, Edwards, Bell (Knowles, 67), Weir, MacDonald (Harness, 67), McCrory, Phillips, Holness (Gray, 78), Palmer, Cansdell-Sherriff, Kee.
Substitutes not used: Lyness, McFadzean, McGurk, Dyer.
Attendance: 4,029 (309 away).