The Iron secured their first win under manager Mark Robins with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over high-flying Peterborough United at London Road to move off the foot of the League One table.United took the lead with 14 minutes gone when Middlesbrough loanee Luke Williams stole in unchecked to put the visiting side in front with a composed finished, and preserved their lead until the interval.
They were pegged back by a strike from Posh substitute Conor Washington on 57 minutes, but a 64th minute deflected effort from Isaiah Osbourne proved enough to give the away side an invaluable three points.
Robins made three changes to the side who fell to a last-gasp 1-0 defeat against Notts County last time out, with the ineligible Bobby Olejnik and Shaun Brisley replaced by the fit-again Sam Slocombe and Miguel Llera respectively while Neal Bishop returned to midfield in place of Sean McAllister.
Meanwhile, Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson shuffled his pack considerably by making five alterations from last weekend’s 3-2 defeat at Coventry City. Those changes came in the form of Jack Baldwin, Luke James, Grant McCann, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Ricardo Santos being promoted to the first XI in place of Gabriel Zakuani, Jermaine Anderson and Washington, while Jack Payne and Marcus Maddison missed out completely.
The hosts began assertively, and forced a corner inside the opening minute of the contest when Luke O’Neill helped clear the ball behind under intense pressure in the box. The subsequent delivery was met firm on the run by home captain Jack Baldwin, but the former Hartlepool United defender’s header flew narrowly past Slocombe’s upright.
It was the hosts who were offering the greatest threat in the early stages, albeit without managing to seriously test Slocombe. They were made to pay for that lack of killer-instinct on 14 minutes when, with their first attack of the afternoon, United took the lead as Luke Williams displayed dogged determination to bundle his way past the Post defence before calmly slotting his first United goal past Ben Alnwick.
Peterborough looked to immediately respond to going behind, and came close to bringing themselves level moments after the restart courtesy of the lively Mendez-Laing. The winger jinked his way down the left flank having been released into space, before cutting inside and firing at goal; his effort only diverted off-target by the sprawling Slocombe after a wicked deflection.
The Iron goalkeeper had to be alert once again on 24 minutes to gather a Joe Newell header which appeared set to loop into the top-corner, while he was also swift off his line on several occasions to operate expertly as a sweeper-keeper and prevent the Posh forward-line from getting in behind the United defence on the counter.
Just after the half-hour mark, the Iron were awarded a free-kick deep down their left following a foul on Marcus Williams. The ball was swung in by Gary McSheffrey, but easily collected by the unchallenged Alnwick; only for the one-time Sunderland academy stopper to hurriedly slice his clearance out of play on halfway as he looked to distribute the ball upfield quickly and launch an attack.
Despite failing to immediately counter on the visitors, Peterborough did offer a sustained spell of pressure soon after following some tidy interplay in the final third. However, having looked to carve open an opportunity through the play-making abilities of the central Newell, Posh were ultimately unable to manoeuvre the ball effectively into an area which would cause serious harm for United; with Ferguson then opting for a positive switch by replacing the injured Baldwin with Washington several minutes ahead of the half-time whistle being blown.
As had been the case in the opening period, the hosts began the second half on the attack, but almost fell two behind when Paddy Madden wriggled clear in the 49th minute before shooting low at Alnwick – the Peterborough ‘keeper doing just enough to divert the ball wide for a corner.
From the resultant set-piece, Alnwick was called into action once more as he got down low to parry a goal-bound strike from McSheffrey after the winger had been teed up by his team-mates. The rebound fell invitingly to Lyle Taylor, but the striker’s rasping drive crashed off the underside of the bar before being scrambled to safety by the Posh defence.
The game was becoming increasingly stretched, and on 54 minutes Peterborough were next to go close as Jon Taylor was played behind the last line of defence by strike-partner Luke James. Taylor advanced with the ball into the area before shaping to curl past Slocombe, only for the Iron number one to read the forward perfectly and produce a fine flying save to his left.
That was only to prove a stay of execution for the visitors however, with Posh bringing themselves level just two minutes later; substitute Washington seizing the ball midway inside the Iron half before driving at the defence. Having stormed into the box, the 22-year-old faced a one-on-one situation with Slocombe, but produced a highly composed finish beyond the goalkeeper to put his side on terms.
Peterborough manager Ferguson looked to immediately build on that goal by introducing Jermaine Anderson in place of former United star Grant McCann, but after a flurry of threatening situations for either side, it would be the Iron who nicked the third goal. Breaking down the left flank on 64 minutes, Bishop fed the ball inside to Osbourne who played a smart one-two with Luke Williams before blasting at goal from the edge of the area; his effort taking a sizeable deflection off Santos to spin past Alnwick and nestle in the bottom corner to restore the Iron’s lead.
In restoring their advantage, United had done much to quieten what had become an increasingly buoyant home support at a crucial stage of the match, with their goal bringing a sense of collective calm among the away side. Such confidence was displayed by the manner in which the Iron began to fend off any threats from Posh while continuing to go forward themselves, with Robins withdrawing Taylor in favour of Billy Kee on 71 minutes.
Robins’ managerial counterpart responded in kind three minutes later when James was replaced by Tottenham Hotspurs loanee, Kenneth McEvoy, as Ferguson looked to navigate a way back into the contest for Peterborough. However, the hosts were being restricted to half-chances by a committed Iron defence – with Santos’ wild effort from distance exemplifying a growing sense of frustration in the home ranks.
Such was Peterborugh’s desire to push men forward in search of an equaliser as the game moved into the final 10 minutes, they were leaving visible gaps at the back when on the front-foot. That presented the possibility of a frantic finale with the Iron very much fancying their chances of not only preserving their lead, but extending their advantage, although they had Marcus Williams to thank defensively as he made two excellent interceptions in quick succession to prevent Posh from progressing up the field.
With five minutes remaining, Robins looked to consolidate by introducing the defensive-minded Sean McAllister in place of striker Luke Williams as United sought to close out victory. Predictably, they were pushed hard to do so, but survived further scares as the game moved into injury-time when McSheffrey selflessly threw himself in front of a goal-bound shot before Luke O’Neill showed outstanding maturity to stay on his feet to win the ball as McEvoy ran at him in the area.
They were further tested in the dying seconds of the game when Peterborough forced a late corner which Alnwick rushed forward for, but the committed resilience of the entire United squad was duly rewarded as the ball skidded wide and referee Darren Bond called time to secure Robins’ first win since taking the helm at Glanford Park.
The win – United’s second away from home this season – saw them move off the foot of the table at the expense of Crewe, with their next League One venture coming at home against MK Dons in a fortnight’s time following their FA Cup first round meeting with Forest Green Rovers next weekend.
Peterborough United: Alnwick, Smith, Baldwin (capt.) (Washington, 40), Bostwick, Taylor, James (McEvoy, 75), McCann (Anderson, 58), Newell, Mendez-Laing, Burgess, Santos.
Substitutes not used: Henry, Oztumer, Ferdinand, Zakuani.
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe; M. Williams, Boyce, Llera, O’Neill; McSheffrey, Bishop (capt.), Osbourne, Madden; L. Williams (McAllister, 86), Taylor (Kee, 72).
Substitutes not used: Weaver, Myrie-Williams, Hawkridge, Adelakun, Wootton.
Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire).
Attendance: 6,275 (485 away).