Kyle Wootton’s first professional goal in stoppage time was enough to clinch a point for the Iron on Tuesday night at Glanford Park.
Richard Duffy’s strike at the end of the first half was enough to hand Vale the lead until the 93rd minute, but Wootton’s show-stopping finish with just sixty seconds left on the clock ensured a 1-1 draw would be the final result.
Manager Mark Robins made one enforced change to the side that beat Crawley 2-1 on Saturday, with the injured Alex Davey being replaced by Andrew Boyce. On the bench, Dave Syers absence saw Kyle Wootton being restored to the match day squad after missing out on a place during last weekend’s win.
With the sun still poking its head out through the clouds and the temperature just perfect, a beautiful evening in Scunthorpe could have been made even lovelier by United winger Gary McSheffrey, as he forced opposition ‘keeper Chris Neal in to a save after just eight seconds.
With the Iron kicking off proceedings the ball was immediately spread to McSheffrey, who didn’t need to be asked twice about arrowing one towards goal. His wicked volley caught Neal very much by surprise, forcing an impressive save out of the Port Vale number one.
Fresh from grabbing his 17th goal of a prolific season at Glanford Park, it wasn’t long before recently awarded Irish Iron player of the season Paddy Madden struck his first effort towards goal. The striker brought the ball down on his chest comfortably before rifling his effort goalwards, but unfortunately it whistled harmlessly over the cross-bar.
Scunthorpe were very active on the goal front as they searched for ways to break the deadlock. Again McSheffrey found himself in the thick of it with Neal producing another imperative save to deny his the United man from finding the net.
Port Vale did provide some threat when advancing forward. Boyce and Bishop took walloping’s from vicious attempts by Williamson and Dickinson respectively, as the Iron duo heroically threw their bodies in front of the ball. Boyce also produced a last-ditch tackle on the lively Williamson as he danced clean through on goal.
With a lot of toing and froing from both sides, neither the hosts nor the Vale could truly grab the game by the scruff of the neck and assert their dominance. The ball pinged from one end to the other continuously, without too many chances being had.
With four minutes left on the clock for the first half Louis Dodds slipped through Williamson, who shimmied his way in to a yard of space before shooting low to Daniels’ right, but the ‘keeper got down low to hold.
Moments later, Port Vale landed a deadly blow as the Iron failed to clear a corner. Former Scunthorpe midfielder Michael O’Connor swung in a corner that was glanced across goal by Neil Collins, and at the back post defender Richard Duffy controlled superbly before smashing the ball through the crowd of players and in to the back of the net from four yards out.
After the minute of additional time was up, referee Trevor Kettle blew for half-time with the side from Staffordshire edging the game by a goal to nil.
The visitors in white got us back under way for the second period, but much like the first half neither side ‘flew’ out of the traps.
Robins made his first change after just nine minutes with Hakeeb Adelakun replacing Kevin van Veen, and moments later after the newest arrival to the pitch found Paddy Madden wide on the right wing, the Irishman found McSheffrey floating freely around the edge of the area. The former Coventry man took the ball out of the sublimely before twisting this way and that, finishing up with a lethal effort that narrowly cleared Neal’s goal.
Only a few minutes later, the Iron came within an inch of taking the lead after Theo Robinson flicked on a header at the back post which left Neal stranded, but fortunately for the goalkeeper it cannoned back off the post. Paddy Madden came flying in to tuck home the rebound but he couldn’t quite get his foot over the looping ball, slicing horribly wide and over with his attempt.
With 16 minutes to go Kyle Wootton entered the fray in place of Robinson up front for the claret and blues.
United tried to relieve some recent pressure by bursting forwards through counter-attacks, but disappointingly the one on the 81st minute led by McSheffrey was cut short after a scything tackle from Duffy cut him down to size. The no.28 picking himself up to cross the resulting free-kick in to the area, with Wootton rising highest to glance his header on, but unfortunately there was no final touch at the back post.
A minute later, another free-flowing move saw McSheffrey again found in acres of space near the corner of the box. After dummying his first effort and selling Duffy for a fool, he forced Neal to spread himself and flick a boot out to deny both himself and Scunthorpe and equaliser, with full-time looming.
Jordan Clarke was next to give the United attacking players the opportunity to find the all-important leveller as he floated a ball in to the penalty area. Neal Bishop was the man in the right place at the right time, but even he couldn’t force his header on goal, nodding just over from eight yards out.
Chance after chance reigned down for home side as they tried to push Vale to the limit. Wootton produced some deft skill inside the box to fashion a chance for himself, but his volley again failed to trouble Neal.
Conor Townsend was thrown on for Marcus Williams as we reached the final four additional minutes of the 90, as Robins hoped some fresh legs may help their chances of scoring late on.
With just seconds left on the clock, United produced a piece of last minute magic to grab a mightily crucial goal right at the death. Two substitutes combined as Adelakun whipped in a ball from the right, with Wootton arriving right on time to thunder his effort straight past Neal and sent the Scunthorpe faithful in to raptures.
The full time whistle sounded moments later, with Wootton’s first goal for the club enough to earn the Iron a well-deserved point, with the result potentially proving vital in the long run.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Clarke, Boyce, Canavan, Williams (Townsend, 90), Osbourne, Bishop ©, van Veen (Adelakun, 54), McSheffrey, Robinson (Wootton, 74), Madden.
Substitutes not used: Anyon, Evans, Lundstram, Llera.
Port Vale: Neal, Dickinson ©, Duffy, Dodds, Williamson, O’Connor, Collins, Brown, Marshall (Birchall, 89), Veseli, Campion (Daniel, 71).
Substitutes not used: Johnson, Yates, Robertson, O’Sullivan, Coulibaly.
Attendance: 3,002 (273 away).