The Iron’s reserve team ended their Central East Division season with a 4-0 defeat to an experienced Doncaster Rovers outfit at Glanford Park on Tuesday afternoon.Rovers had taken a 1-0 lead into the interval courtesy of a tidy finish from Theo Robinson, before running riot by netting three times in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.
They doubled their lead through Lewis Ferguson two minutes after the restart, before Chris Winchop extended the advantage just three minutes later.
The scoring was completed as early as the 54th minute when Robinson again found the net to complete a comprehensive win.
United fielded a youthful side, with winger Etienne Esajas and captain Luke Waterfall the most experienced home players on show.
The Iron began brightly, and in the third minute tested Champions League winner Ross Turnbull in the Doncaster goal for the first time as Noel Burdett skipped inside before firing straight at former Chelsea man.
With both sides matching each other in midfield, there was little to separate the two teams in the opening quarter of an hour as opportunities proved hard to come by. That almost changed on 17 minutes when Burdett again teased the Rovers defence before pulling across to Levi Sutton – who volleyed tamely at Turnbull.
The away side were next to go close midway through the first half courtesy of a set-piece from Marc De Val Fernandez, who once cost Real Madrid €4m in 2009, but the Spaniard’s free-kick was seen behind by the United defence.
Rovers would only have to wait until the 27th minute to take the lead however, when Robinson raced onto a delicately clipped pass from De Val before dinking past Iron goalkeeper James Severn as he closed the striker down.
The technically-gifted De Val was key to Doncaster’s strategy, and the midfielder was involved again two minutes later as he was scythed down by Luke Hornsey on halfway – the United man receiving a yellow card for his troubles.
The visitors were benefitting from their greater experience, and would have doubled the lead on 34 minutes had it not been the brilliance of Severn denying them twice in quick succession. First, the Iron goalkeeper stooped low to tip a Robinson header onto the post before backing that up with a second stop barely seconds later.
United responded, and an intelligent flick-on from Kyle Wootton released Esajas down the left as the game moved into the final 10 minutes of the half. The Dutch winger beat his man before lofting a cross towards the back-post, but the Rovers back-line did enough to clear the danger.
As the game moved into first half injury time, a seemingly innocuous clearances from deep swirled into the path of Wootton. The forward brought the ball down expertly to work his way into the area, but shot slow into the midriff of the sprawled Turnbull to mark the last meaningful opportunity of the opening period.
Within two minutes of the restart, Rovers doubled their lead in fine style when Ferguson collected a measured pass from just inside the area before calmly lofting over Severn and into the net.
That goal gave Doncaster a degree of comfort in the game, and they capitalised almost immediately by making it three on 50 minutes. A loose back-header by Taron Hare fell short of its intended target, with the alert Winchop intercepting before displaying the composure to slip past Severn.
Rovers’ lethal touch continued four minutes later, as their latest attack once again culminated in the ball ending up in the back of the net. This time it was Robinson on hand to stroke home when he found himself with a clear sight of goal after De Val’s charge into the area created space for the 25-year-old.
Those goals were enough to convince Doncaster chief Brian Flynn to withdraw two of his more experienced players, with Robinson and Dean Furman replaced by Ryan Burnyeat and Jordan Binns either side of the hour-mark.
United had struggled against their largely more established counterparts for much of the second period, but displayed character to stem the flow of Rovers attacks as the half progressed – with a burst from Wootton providing a welcome respite.
Despite that, the Iron still found themselves penned back with regularity, and once again had Severn to thank in the 70th minute as the United goalkeeper spread himself to block a goal-bound effort from Harry Middleton.
Doncaster continued to threaten more often than their hosts, and five minutes later went close one again; this time Winchop blazing over on the half-volley after being teed up by a cut-back from the right.
However, the Iron came within inches of pulling a goal back less than 60 seconds later; a neat build-up leading in Esajas’ to only be denied by the woodwork as his shot smashed off the post before rebounding to safety.
That appeared to buoy United, and they went forward with purpose once again with nine minutes remaining as Burdett broke down the left. The tricky winger advanced on goalkeeper Turnbull, but saw the 29-year-old use his wide frame to divert his goal-bound drive wide of goal at the expense of corner – the subsequent delivery of which being headed over the bar.
With 86 minutes gone, Tony Daws opted to make his first substation of the afternoon as he threw Reece Mosanya into the action in place of Esajas. However, the substitute found little chance to impress as the match eased towards a conclusion, with Doncaster running out comprehensive victors.
The result brings an end to United’s competitive reserve season, and sees Doncaster complete the double over the Iron having defeated them 6-0 back in September – a game in which current United star Dave Syers netted twice for Rovers.
Iron team: Severn, Hood, Grayson, Hornsey, Waterfall (capt.), Hare, Esajas (Mosanya, 86), Sutton, Wootton, Burdett, Smythe.
Substitutes not used: Weaver, Oliver-Stothard, Purdue.
Doncaster team: Turnbull, Meade, Furman (Binns), McCullough, Middleton, Robinson (Burnyeat, 57), Wakefield (capt)., De Val Fernandez, Finnegan, Winchop, Ferguson.
Substitutes not used: Lund, Maxted.