Iron juniors got back to winning ways defeating Mansfield Town 3-1 away on Saturday morning, with Kyle Wootton and Noel Burdett making the scoresheet yet again.United looked sharp and last week’s cup defeat seemed to make the Scunthorpe lads eager for the win. Left winger, Reece Mosanya, returned to the starting lineup from a 1 game ban he received away at Rotherham United two weeks ago. There was also a welcome boost for the Iron as captain Taron Hare also appeared on the team sheet for the first time this season after recovering from a knee injury sustained in a pre-season friendly.
The squad had clearly taken on board comments from last week’s performance and the back four and the goalkeeper demonstrated their ability to work as a unit, with good communication from the start of the game as they dealt well with Mansfield’s aerial bombardment. Mansfield forced two corners in the 8th minute but the visitors defended them well as Emilio Stothard cleared the danger.
On 10 minutes, Mansfield were given a free-kick and Ben Ledger made his first save of the day, scooping the ball up just wide of the right post. Ledger made an effort to feed his defenders the ball early allowing United to break out of defence with the ball. Several times left back, Jack Dyche picked up the ball from his keeper and drove forward into midfield before slotting a good ball into Mosanya but the left wing became too crowded, leaving Mosanya struggling to deliver his typically dangerous cross.
In the 14th minute, Mansfield created their second push towards the Iron’s goal when Jack Koczalski’s cross shaped up more like a shot and swiftly flew just over the crossbar. The home team’s tempo improved and within minutes, Mansfield winger Louis Danquah had lost Stothard on the wing and managed to release a fierce shot at goal. Ledger made a second commendable save.
Noel Burdett decided to show the Mansfield defence what he could do when a clever shoulder drop was made before driving his foot through the ball towards goal in the 20th minute but a comfortable save was made by Mansfield’s keeper, Adam Bishop.
Mansfield’s juniors were playing very directly and competing well with the Iron youths and as a result of their philosophy, created as many, if not more, goal scoring opportunities in the first half. The 22nd minute saw another threatening attempt when Anthony Dwyer fired a curving lash at goal which required Ledger to dive in order to protect his net and his team from going behind.
Pressure was building on United’s back four as Mansfield invaded the danger zone several more times. Jack Dyche showed quality and confidence when winning the high ball in an indefinite number of physical challenges. The referee granted Mansfield numerous free kicks in Scunthorpe’s final third and because of the physical size of the Town players, the set pieces began to look risky with Ledger having to make another keen save.
United were trying to build and play out from the back and central defender Jacob Hood showed a composed approach throughout the first half, comfortably switching the ball between his two full backs as the Iron looked to attack. A real opportunity came for Burdett in the 29th minute as he ran the ball up the right channel before powering a shot at goal, which was admirably denied by the fingertips of Mansfield shot stopper Bishop, tipping the ball over the bar.
Another opportunity followed with a free kick from Connor Purdue, whose excellent drive into the box found Charlie Cleminshaw who did well to make himself tall amongst the chaos but his header fell just wide of the post as the Iron threatened.
On 36 minutes, Mansfield reacted to another United attack with a fast counter attack themselves. Levi Sutton established himself in central midfield, making a burning 40-yard run to rescue the ball from the home team’s strike force. Burdett and Kyle Wootton were working hard to try to retain possession for the Iron but found it difficult against the home team’s giant defenders and so started to come away from their up field positions in order to receive the ball to feet rather than in the air.
The United lads began to take control of the game and pressured Mansfield forcing a corner in the 40th minute. A well-rehearsed training ground routine almost gave the visitors the lead as Purdue’s corner sought out a well-timed run from Jack Dyche who saw his goal bound driven effort blocked as United were thwarted.
Jack Mawson showed good pace and strength in wide areas as he tried to link up well timed passes to the Iron’s strikers. Stothard and Mawson attempted to link up play during the last 5 minutes of the first half but the Mansfield lads had got back and were doing well defensively to halt any Scunthorpe attacks.
Although opportunities were made in the opening 45 minutes, United didn’t take any in the way they usually do. The half time talk had to install the quality United were missing in their execution of the ball in the final third as the teams went in at half time level.
The second half started at a much faster pace as the Iron injected real tempo in to their play and they looked like a full set of fresh legs as the ball barely left Mansfield’s half in the first 4 minutes. United put their opponents on the back foot with waves of attacks and sustained pressure which was really testing the home team. On 49 minutes Iron’s Noel Burdett was brought down on his way to goal and the ref blew for a free kick. A quick thinking decision by Wootton paid off as he intelligently slotted the ball wide to Mawson, who drove forward before lifting the ball back into Wootton who had already made a run into the box. Without hesitating Wootton smashed the ball into the back of Bishop’s net on the volley before most Mansfield’s players were even aware the free kick had been taken.
In the 53rd minute, a Mansfield free kick was well cleared from United’s penalty box with a powerful header from Levi Sutton and the header created enough momentum that it ignited another United counter-attack which lead to the Iron stretching their lead. Burdett latched on to Sutton’s header and played a quick pass to Mawson who quickly made a clever switch of play into the run of Reece Mosanya. Mosanya then moved the ball even further up the pitch to Wootton who had sprinted to make up the ground and join the attack before executing an exquisite chip over the Mansfield keeper Bishop who unfortunately spilled the ball, leaving it to roll into his empty goal. Keen Mansfield defender Conor Green attempted to prevent the ball from rolling into the Mansfield net, but couldn’t keep it out as the Iron youngsters went two in front and the performance was already trumping the entire first half display.
The Iron youngsters turned up the heat even further and more and more goal scoring opportunities were made by the United lads. On 57 minutes, Burdett showed how relaxed he could be while surrounded by 3 or 4 players as he let the ball run across his body before releasing a sharp shot at goal on his left foot. Unlike the first half, the Iron were winning the first and the second ball in midfield, defence and attack. When a Mansfield attack broke in the 59th minute, the ball was quickly picked up by Hood and switched towards Wootton for the counter attack. Wootton intimidated his opponents when moving the ball up the right wing before switching a superb cross into Sutton in the box. Sutton leaped up above his opponents and his foot met the ball in the air in a scissor kick motion, which only just glided past the post.
Mansfield pursued an attack in the 61st minute, with Danquah firing another shot just above the bar. A substitution followed for the home team, adding another striker to the mix, George Holloway. A Mansfield corner came and Wootton demonstrated his ability at both ends of the pitch, clearing the ball with a superb winning header.
Scunthorpe maintained their calm approach to the game, bringing the ball out of defence to midfield intelligently leaving Purdue and Sutton to seek out runs from Mawson and Mosanya. Mansfield tried to respond and upped their performance level to stay in the game and they tried to pressurise the visitors and make it difficult for United to stay mistake free.
On 67 minutes, Purdue took another corner for Scunthorpe but a Mansfield head cleared the cross and they began to pursue a counter attack. Joe Fitzpatrick attempted to feed a ball into newly substituted striker, Holloway, but Cleminshaw ensured an interception. Seconds later, Fitzpatrick switched play out to Dwyer but again United’s defence dealt with it as Stothard won the ball.
At this stage Mansfield won two consecutive free kicks 20 yards outside of Ledgers goalmouth. The wall blocked the first attempt but Purdue was booked for not being the mandatory ten yards and the referee ordered the free kick to be taken again. Mansfield captain Chris Spencer was launched the free kick towards the top left hand corner of the Iron’s goal, closely followed by the diving hand of first year keeper Ben Ledger. The ball smacked against the cross bar rebounding just in front of an empty goalmouth and it was Danny Fletcher who reacted first to take his chance as he buried the ball in the net on 69 minutes, leaving the score line at 2-1.
The Iron made their first substitution in the 74th minute, Connor Purdue was replaced and United saw a very welcome return for Captain Taron Hare after injury had kept him out of action since pre-season. Hare showed immediate confidence and quality, winning two successive headers before releasing a nice pass into Burdett as Mansfield had a real push after scoring.
The Scunthorpe lads were working hard to maintain their lead; weathering the Mansfield long balls and regaining control of the game after conceding to the home team. United then resorted to their untouchable quick passing game as they moved the ball around the pitch with speed and accuracy. Hare and Sutton were intimidating in midfield together and both demonstrated their impressive defensive tracking skills.
The 77th minute saw another successful push at goal for United. An impressive run from the energetic Sutton enabled him to drive into the box just short of the right post before playing a lovely ball into the step of a perfectly positioned, Burdett. United’s number 10 managed to step into Sutton’s cross and secure Iron’s 3-1 victory over Mansfield Town as he scored his second goal of the season.
Burdett and Wootton displayed some class football, playing a one- two which involved Wootton back healing the ball inside the Mansfield full back for Burdett to run onto. Burdett did manage to take the shot but Bishop made himself big and blocked the shot as United looked to add to their goal tally.
Mansfield’s Fletcher managed an attempt at goal during an attack in the 79th minute but defender Cleminshaw quickly reacted and came out towards the shot blocking any potential danger. A fast paced counter attack followed for the Iron lads and a sharp burst in on goal for Wootton left him with a yellow card after he collided with Bishop in Town’s goal.
On 82 minutes, Hare and Sutton work well to bring the ball up the pitch before passing it into Burdett’s feet. Burdett played a magic switch inside the full back for his partner, Wootton, who was clean through on goal, but Wootton’s put his shot straight into the keeper’s hands as he was denied his hatrick.
Frustration seemed to have set in with the Mansfield boys as United kept the ball close to feet, playing triangles around their opponents and retaining possession. In the 84th minute, Matt Stockill was introduced replacing the cautioned Wootton.
The Iron’s defence were still on top form at this late stage in the second half, meeting the ball and competing in the air for the winning header. Sutton’s first touch allowed him to bring the ball out of the air and switch the play into Burdett in another push towards goal. There was a third Iron substitution on 86 minutes when Mosanya was replaced by new signing, De’Andre Watkis.
The Scunthorpe youths pressed the ball for the remaining minutes of the second half and Mawson particularly stood out for his strength in holding the ball against his opponents. Mansfield attempted to push towards goal but Iron’s defence denied them the opportunity. The full time whistle confirmed a deserved victory for United.
After the game, Academy manager Tony Daws said: “I thought it took us 45 minutes to get going today, in the first half we found it difficult because of the way that Mansfield played.
"But, after Paul and I had spoke to the boys at half time, we addressed the issues in and out of possession we thought that we dominated the second half.
“We scored some excellent team goals and deserved the win. We are really pleased with the second half performance.”