League One pacesetters Bristol City beat the Iron 2-0 at Glanford Park.It proved to be an eventful game though as Scunthorpe ended the game with defender Andrew Boyce in goal, following injuries to Sam Slocombe and James Severn.
The visitors survived a battling second half from the Iron to win thanks to Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ first half penalty and Luke Freeman’s late strike.
Mark Robins’ side were unlucky not to gain a point, but could not find a way past an impressive Bristol City back five or ‘keeper Frank Fielding.
There were home debuts for new signings Tom Hopper, Jacob Murphy and Jordan Clarke, who was playing for the first time since joining the Iron from Coventry.
This meant that there were four changes from the side that started Tuesday’s extra time defeat to Chesterfield in the FA Cup third round, with Alex Davey, Lyle Taylor, Gary McSheffrey and Eddie Nolan making way.
Bristol City came into the game full of confidence and on a good run of form, which had helped them into the League One top two, but it was the Iron who tried to seize an early lead.
A neat move involving Tom Hopper and Paddy Madden ended with Neal Bishop running behind the visiting defence, only to have his goal bound poke cleared off the line by Luke Ayling.
The Iron were forced into an early change though, with ‘keeper Sam Slocombe picking up an injury when punching a cross away. He was replaced by James Severn.
The break in the game did not stop the attacking intent of Mark Robins’ side and they came to within a whisker of opening the scoring.
Tom Hopper was just unable to get on the end of Liam O’Neil’s cutback, with any touch on the ball looking like a certain goal.
The visitors were starting get into their stride as the first half wore on and started to put the Iron defence under pressure, although Miguel Llera and Andrew Boyce were coping with the danger posed.
Matt Smith and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas were providing a good physical presence up front for Bristol City, but for all their excellent deliveries into the box they did not trouble Severn.
The visitors were awarded a penalty in the 35th minute though as Smith fell in the penalty area when jumping for a header, which the referee deemed to be a foul.
The Iron strongly protested, but Emmanuel-Thomas stepped up and rolled it past Severn, who did guess the right way, but was unable to get anything on the ball.
It got worse for United just minutes later as substitute ‘keeper James Severn picked up an injury following a collision with Emmanuel-Thomas.
The striker broke into the box and collided with the onrushing Severn who came off worse, which saw him substituted and defender Andrew Boyce taking the gloves and going in goal.
Boyce made a confident introduction though, punching away a visiting corner and then in the opening exchanges of the second half, he made a great stop to deny Emmanuel-Thomas who found himself played through.
The efforts of the stand-in ‘keeper seemed to galvanise the rest of his team mates as the Iron pushed forward to get an equaliser their efforts had deserved.
Tom Hopper was posing a significant threat for Bristol City, with his quick feet taking him past the defence on a couple of occasions, although the visitors were standing firm.
The Iron had to be alert to stop the visitors counter attacking as the game became more stretched with United looking for a leveller.
Matt Smith missed a great chance to put Bristol City 2-0 up, just unable to guide a cut-back into the bottom corner following a loose ball in the box.
Joe Bryan also had a good effort to double their lead, but he flashed his drive passed the post when well positioned in the Iron area.
In a bid to try and secure a point, Mark Robins brought on Gary McSheffrey for Liam O’Neil to add a bit more attacking intent for the last ten minutes.
It was the away side that extended their lead though as Luke Freeman slotted home in the 85th minute to condemn the Iron to defeat.
The ball broke to Freeman who slotted home from the edge of the area and give the visitors all three points, despite a late rally from the Iron.
Scunthorpe United: Slocombe ((Severn, 10) (Canavan, 42)), Clarke, Boyce, Llera, Williams, O'Neil (McSheffrey, 81), Bishop, Osbourne, Murphy, Madden, Hopper.
Substitutes: Adelakun, Taylor, Wootton, Davey.
Bristol City: Fielding, Williams, Flint, K Smith, Elliott, M Smith, Emmanuel-Thomas, Freeman, Ayling, Bryan, Tavernier (Little, 73).
Substitutes: Richards, Osborne, Wagstaff, Saville, Cunningham, Pack.
Attendance: 3,611 (483 away).