A smash and grab earned Gateshead a 3-2 victory after a hearty performance by the Iron in the Final Third Development League game at Winterton.Goals from Connor Purdue and Noel Burdett saw the Scunthorpe reserve side come back from 2-0 down, but a goal in stoppage time from Matty Briggs ensured all three points would be heading back up north with the visitors.
A youthful Iron side was on display at Winterton this afternoon with the majority of the first team involved last night against Barnsley at Glanford Park. The visitors once again produced a starting XI littered with senior team players with a lot of the players boasting both a catalogue of Conference and Football League appearances under their belt.
During the opening five minutes of the game Andy Dawson’s side did well to limit the opposition’s possession, with some good passages of play from the string of academy players. They even produced the first opening of the game through Levi Sutton, but the youngster who happens to be one of the more experienced players in claret & blue this lunchtime couldn’t work an opening.
At the other end ‘keeper Pat Weaver has Taron Hare to thank after a superb block prevented a goal bound shot reaching the United goal, after Gateshead had broken at pace.
Jon Shaw, who grabbed a hat-trick last Monday when the two sides met at the Gateshead International Stadium was next to try his luck from a floated in free-kick for the Heed, but his glancing effort flew over the crossbar.
Around the quarter of an hour mark the visitors had the ball in the back of the net after a good interchange between Shaw and Kevin Sainte-Luce, but due to the Iron keeping a tight back line, the flag was raised for offside.
Sutton had the games next meaningful chance, alleviating the pressure around Weaver’s goal. He took aim from a free-kick but swept it wide of the mark, but nonetheless a good attempt by the second year academy scholar.
The response from Micky Cummins’ men was swift, as Saint-Luce raced down the right wing before striking towards goal, but Hare was in the right place at the right time to chest away, before Reece Mosanya cleared off the line.
A spell of end to end stuff with no real shots registered ensued for the next 15 minutes or so, before just after the half-hour mark, a superb cross-field ball by Sutton was daintily plucked out of the air by Mosanya, who knocked the ball past Williamson before taking aim, but his shot flew high and wide of Alex Baird’s goal.
The best chance to date in the first half came shortly after, however it came for the visitors. The lively Saint-Luce squared the ball for Carl Finnigan, but the former Newcastle United midfielder side-footed it wide of the mark, a real sitter.
The side from the North East were now on top, as they began to pepper the Iron goal with shots going in to half-time. Rankine’s header went wide of the target after a Gateshead corner, before seeing another effort of his expertly blocked by Baker. Former Carlisle winger Matty Robson was next to have a pop from a free-kick, but by the narrowest of margins it flicked off the upright and out for a goal-kick.
With all this pressure there was bound to be a goal, and it came just before half-time. Saint-Luce again the architect as he produced another menacing run down the line before again squaring for Finnigan, must this time he made no mistake with the finish, rifling it into the roof of the net for 1-0. A perfect time for the hosts to open the scoring with the half-time whistle coming shortly after.
The second half began and the Iron were quick to fly out of the traps with Mosanya showing some quality around the edge before the Conference side managed to clear their lines. Mawson then headed over from close range after some trickery from Burdett on the right set him free of his man.
Ex-United striker Rankine took his turn to let fly with a shot down the other end after picking the ball up on the run, but his effort from 25-yards out went harmlessly wide. He could have gotten himself on the score-sheet through complete luck moments later after the ball unbeknownst to him bounced off his shin before deflecting inches wide of the post.
That one may have just gone wide, but there was no stopping Matty Briggs moments later as Gateshead doubled their advantage. Briggs capitalised on a mistake at the back to steal the ball away and stride through on goal. He calmly and collectively slotted the ball past the onrushing Weaver to make it 2-0 to the team from Tyneside.
This fired up the young United side to battle back, but the team wasted a golden chance to reduce the arrears on the hour mark. Fine play by Burdett allowed Scunthorpe to push in to a three-on-two situation, but he picked out the wrong pass in the final third as Gateshead cleared.
This was a mere delay to the Iron’s push for a route back in to the game, and they found their foothold five minutes later. Mawson’s effort was parried by Baird before falling to Purdue, who struck his subsequent shot from 25-yards with the bounce on the ball causing issues for ‘keeper Baird, who failed to keep it out. Just 2-1 to the visitors now, game on.
As Dawson’s men threw men forward in search of an equaliser, Gateshead came storming back with a chance, but the long range strike at goal caught Weaver off-guard as he was unsighted until the last moment, and he produced a fantastic stop which even earned the applause of opposition ‘keeper Baird down the other end of the field.
Moments later Weaver produced another fine save to tip over another shot from distance over the bar, only for the referee to order a free-kick after believing it hit the bar.
There was still time for a few more twists and turns in this game, as Scunthorpe defied the odds and found that crucial equalising goal on 81 minutes. He lovely weighted ball out to the left found Burdett in space, he battled past his defender and in to the box before letting fly with a cutting strike that flew over the head of the helpless Baird and in to the back of the net. All square at 2-2 with nine minutes remaining.
As Dawson sent on Matt Stockhill in place of De’Andre Watkis, Gateshead came within inches of stealing back their lead. A free-kick from the Gateshead man was tipped on to the connection between the post and the bar by Weaver and out for a corner.
Tom Allen, who headed home in the reverse fixture last week was again on the end of the free-kick, but Dyche was in a prime position to clear off the goal line. Hare was next to make a clearance from less than a yard out after Shaw had Weaver beaten, before the Iron counter-attacked down the other end, with Dyche drawing a save from Baird after good work by Stockhill, Sutton and the Mosanya.
With two minutes of additional time to be played, you could sense there was going to be a fifth and final goal, and there was. Unfortunately for the dogged performance of the Scunthorpe side it was Gateshead who stole the three points at the death. A tap home from Matty Briggs from close range saw the Heed midfielder round off his performance with a brace, as the final whistle blew.
A gutsy performance by a very young Iron reserve side, with a trip to Rotherham United next Wednesday to follow.
Scunthorpe United: Weaver, Baker, Mosanya, Purdue, Hare, Cleminshaw, Burdett, Sutton, Mawson, Watkis (Stockhill, 84), Dyche.
Substitutes not used: Ledger, Shilling.
Gateshead: Baird, Williamson, Robson, D.Briggs, Morse, Allan, M.Briggs, Finnigan, Rankine, Shaw, Saint-Luce.
Substitutes not used: Cummins, Wilson.