United were pegged back by a late equaliser in their 1-1 draw at Coventry City.
Former Coventry City winger Gary McSheffrey whipped home a sumptuous free-kick on the 21st minute from the edge of the area, but a goal in stoppage from Marcus Tudgay earned the Sky Blues a share of the spoils.
There was one alteration to the Iron side that narrowly lost at home to Oldham Athletic on Saturday, with manager Mark Robins opting to partner Niall Canavan with Alex Davey, who starts his first came for the club since the 2-2 FA Cup 3rd round draw with Chesterfield at Glanford Park. Andrew Boyce switches places with the Chelsea loanee by taking his place amongst the substitutes.
Coventry City kicked off the game in their traditional sky blue kit, with their Iron in their Irish Iron green strip, and it was a former Scunthorpe player who registered the game’s first chance inside three minutes.
After some neat ball-work by Reading loanee Dominic Samuel, the ball found its way to ex-United winger Luke Williams, making his home debut for City. Williams jinked inside before setting himself up for a shot in acres of space. Fortunately for ‘keeper Luke Daniels, the man from Middlesbrough’s effort floated harmlessly wide.
Scunthorpe bit back a few minutes later, when Neal Bishop shrugged off a challenge to play the ball through to Liam O’Neil. The central midfielder took a touch before looking up and pinging right across to the left hand side of the field, where Gary McSheffrey (playing against his former club) plucked the ball out of the air while running, before delivering a delicious cross in to the area. The ball in just evaded the head of Tom Hopper, however Coventry ‘keeper had his blushes spared when he dropped the ball at the feet of the on-rushing Paddy Madden, but fortunately Pennington was on hand to clear.
The pendulum once again swung the other way, as a failed clearance from Niall Canavan allowed Luke Williams in again to take aim, but the result was a mirror image of his first attempt. Scunthorpe did then increase their shot count when Madden’s looping effort found the stands after Hopper knocked the ball through to the Irishman, however referee Kevin Johnson did adjudge the ball to have taken a deflection on its way over.
A huge chance for the hosts came on the 18th minute when Madden was dispossessed in the middle of the park by Adam Barton, who played a delightful through ball to the onside Samuel, but as he bore down on goal, Marcus Williams produced a goal saving challenge to deny the Coventry frontman a clean shot on goal.
You just knew that a former player for one of these sides would make the headlines in this game, and that’s exactly what happened.
The Iron broke from a goal-kick played long down the pitch by Luke Daniels. The ball found its way to McSheffrey who was taken clean out by Sky Blues defender Aaron Martin from the edge of the box. The City man was booked, and McSheffrey picked himself up to take the resulting set-piece. As calm as you like, he strolled up to the ball before bending through a gap in the wall, and to the right of the helpless Jamie Jones nestling in the net. No celebration for the ex-Coventry player, but huge cheers from the travelling United fans, as they lead 1-0 on 21 minutes.
It could have been two shortly after, as Madden superbly controlled a through ball over the top with his head, he tried to chip the oncoming Jones from 25-yards out, but failed to loft it over the ‘keeper recently borrowed from Preston’s head.
Daniels was kept busy for the following few minutes after a brief onslaught by the hosts. Firstly McSheffrey managed to block across from the left, however as it swerved towards goal, Daniels had to be alert to tip it round the post. City followed that up with another opportunity to level the scores, but again Daniels produced another smart save to deny Aaron Martin’s powerful header, springing to his left to tip the effort out for a corner.
After a spell of very much a concentrated midfield battle, the hosts were handed the chance to make it 1-1 at the break, but after Marcus Tudgay took the ball out of the air with one finessed touch, his pull back to Samuel saw the City forward force a good save out of Daniels once again, before clutching the ball in mid-air after parrying the initial effort.
The visitors held out through the single additional minute of stoppage time to make it to the break a goal up at the Ricoh Arena.
The second half began with a different figure in the centre of the Iron midfield, as George Evans replaces Isaiah Osbourne during the interval.
The opening 15 minutes of the second period proved a nervous one, with both side failing to register a shot on target. Liam O’Neil and Gary McSheffrey both entered the referee’s book, while coincidentally both sides’ closest chances to find the net came from menacing balls across goal that lacked a touch in the area to make the net bulge.
However the tide soon turned, and it was the Iron who came within inches of doubling their lead. Hopper stretched to knock down a high ball for Madden, who took on his defender with an imperious run. He wriggled this way and that, before unleashing a venomous effort that took a deflection off of the full-backs hip, and cannoned off the upright, leaving Jones pawing at thin air.
Soon after, Hopper was replaced upfront for United by Dutchman Kevin van Veen, with the former FC Oss striker coming on for just his second game in Scunthorpe colours. That occurred as Luke Williams services were also relinquished on the pitch, as he was substituted off also.
With less than 20 minutes left on the clock, the Iron were in full drive with their search for a second, and they almost found it when Bishop slipped to ball to Clarke on the right, and the former Sky Blue right-back found Madden with a yard of space. He took one touch to control it, before firing a dipping shot that whistled over the bar by a matter of inches.
With just over 10 minutes to go, Marcus Tudgay will be kicking himself after squandering a huge opportunity in front of goal. Jackson did the hard work down the wing, escaping the challenge of Canavan before playing a perfectly weighted pass across goal, but the former Nottingham Forest striker Tudgay couldn’t control the ball with his first touch, as Daniels threw himself at his feet, smothering his effort.
Although there were a couple of half-decent threats from both sides in the second half, it would struggle to live up to the end-to-end action of the opening 45 minutes. A wild wayward cross from Samuel was all Coventry could muster as we closed in on 90 minutes, as the home fans turned up the pressure on Steven Pressley and his team.
The final few minutes produced a chance for either side. A pot-luck effort from City’s George Thomas left Daniels rooted to the spot between the sticks, but fortunately his attempt landed on the roof of the net.
Shortly after it was Hakeeb Adelakun, only on the pitch for a little over 60 seconds after replacing goal scorer McSheffrey, snuck in on the left hand side before making a bee-line for goal. The 18 year old winger tried to beat Jones at his near post, but the shot stopped denied the substitute with his knee.
With the Iron trying to hold out for the 1-0 win, City pounced inside the second minute of the additional period, as Jones’ long ball over the top wasn’t dealt with by the United defence, and the experienced Marcus Tudgay let fly from the edge of the box, firing his effort over the head of the stranded ‘keeper Daniels, to level the score at one apiece.
Scunthorpe batted away the home sides advances in the final minutes of the game, before referee Johnson blew for full-time, with both sides taking a point in a close affair that saw the visitors stretch their unbeaten run away from home in the league to nine games.