The Iron ended their pre-season tour in Marbella with a competitively fought 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough.
Both a testing friendly in terms of the heat and the Championship opposition, United manager Mark Robins handed 45 minutes to the majority of his squad, with an early own goal cancelled out just six minutes from time to deny Scunthorpe back-to-back victories in pre-season.
Joe Anyon began the game in goal, with the defence consisting of Niall Canavan, Scott Wiseman and Jack King – with Jordan Clarke and Scott Laird operating as the wing-backs in a 3-5-2 formation.
The midfield saw Neal Bishop and Gary McSheffrey line-up alongside Jamie Ness for the very first time, with Paddy Madden partnering Tom Hopper in attack.
Temperatures at the beginning of the game were around 28 degrees Celsius and the Iron kicked off in the Marbella heat, but it was the opposition who created the first attacking move of the game inside sixty seconds. Adam Forshaw and Yanic Wildschut both combined well. They eventually fed the ball to Lee Tomlin, but the United defence remained resolute in the early exchanges to clear the danger.
On four minutes, it was Boro who came forward again, with Adam Jackson drawing the first save of the evening from Anyon, who parried his header away from danger.
The game had started with a good pace, especially considering the conditions, with Scunthorpe breaking the deadlock just two minutes later on six minutes. It was Gary McSheffrey who again provided the assist, firing in a free-kick, with Jonathan Burns the receiver of the ball. Unfortunately for him, but not so for the Iron, his connection would see the ball fly past his own goalkeeper Connor Ripley.
On ten minutes, Middlesbrough won a succession of corners to try and find an immediate response to going behind. Scunthorpe’s defence and goalkeeper Anyon both dealt with efforts from Tomlin and ex-Iron loanee George Friend before the danger was eventually cleared.
Three minutes later and it was the Championship side who again threatened, with Adam Clayton trying his luck from a speculative distance in an attempt to catch Anyon by surprise. His effort was, however, fired well wide of the target.
United were holding their own, particularly defensively, against their Championship opposition and were made to defend once more on the 15 minute mark. Wildschut was again proving to be a menace
Adam Forshaw was next to send an effort crashing wide as he tried his luck after 17 minutes before Friend again tried to get beyond the United defence just 90 seconds later after good play around the Iron penalty area. He later had a shot blocked, before Tomlin drove his effort over the bar after the ball found him in space following the ricochet.
After a drinks break midway through the half, Madden tried to catch the opposition napping on 25 minutes. Scunthorpe mounted an attack directly after the short break, but the Irish striker dragged his shot wide of the mark after setting his sights from distance.
Right-winger Wildschut continued to be a threat in the Boro ranks, but lacked a killer ball in the first half. Nevertheless it was he who again proved a tricky customer to Laird and Canavan, but once again the attack was cut out by the defence – with the Iron continuing to calmly pass the ball around the pitch with confidence.
On 33 minutes, Aitor Karanka’s men won another corner after yet another mazy run from Wildschut. It was dealt with again well by United, who defended resiliently, with temperatures breaking past the 30 degrees Celsius mark at 19:00 local time.
Seven minutes from the interval and Middlesbrough were handed a route back into the game after the referee adjudged Jordan Clarke to have fouled Wildschut in the area, despite it looking a rather soft decision. Justice prevailed from the resulting kick though, with Anyon guessing right to get low down to his right-hand-side to deny Lee Tomlin.
Burns, looking to atone for his earlier error, arrowed a shot goalwards from outside the area two minutes before the interval, but his effort clipped the upright before heading out of play for a goal kick – their closest effort to equalising barring the penalty just five minutes previous.
There was still time, however, for the Iron to nearly double their lead before half time, with Ripley making a superb block to deny Madden who was in to meet another McSheffrey cross from the left.
It was all change for Middlesbrough in the second half as they unveiled a new eleven – inclusive of a second debut for new signing Stuart Downing on his return to the club. The Iron, however, made nine alterations with Anyon and Wiseman the only two remaining on the pitch.
Anyon remained in goal, with Wiseman, David Mirfin, Andrew Boyce and Charlie Goode forming the defence. Stephen Dawson, Sean McAllister and Luke Williams joined trialist Nathaniel Mendez-Laing in midfield, with the attacking duo of Kyle Wootton and Kevin van Veen.
It didn’t take too long for Boro to continue where they left off, with Anyon called into action again early in the second half. Downing’s free kick was expertly palmed away by the Iron goalkeeper to relieve the imminent danger.
Mustaspha Carayol was next to trouble his goal two minutes later, but his shot from distance was angled just wide of the mark – with Middlesbrough vastly restricted to shots from long range due to the nature of Scunthorpe’s defending.
On 55 minutes, Anyon was called into action again to deny Bradley Fewster as the substitute attempted to chip the ball into the net after finding space with the ball following a blocked effort from Downing.
On the hour, Albert Adomah was denied what would have been a thunderous goal following another good save from Anyon after clever football from Carayol had put the ball into Ghanaian’s path. Downing then fired over moments later from 20 yards as United continued to restrict their opposition to long range shooting.
Scunthorpe’s defence once again remained strong on 64 minutes following a surging run down the right from Adomah. His cross was eventually too pacey for Fewster, whose control was just away from him, with the defence sharply acting to clear the danger before another water break mid-way through the second half.
With just under ten minutes remaining, the Iron could have sewn up the game, but after an original blocked shot, United won a corner from which McAllister almost saw the net bulging with an effort from outside the penalty area.
However, two minutes later, Middlesbrough equalised via the boot of Grant Leadbitter. With Anyon and the Iron defence dealing with everything Boro had to throw at them, he expertly drove the ball into the corner of the net from long range to level the proceedings.
The same player also had a golden opportunity to win the game two minutes from time, but his shot was fired over the bar after good work from Adomah. Adomah also had a late effort on goal himself as the match entered stoppage time following Nsue’s cross, but he couldn’t steer the ball home as United also had a late penalty shout waved away by the referee.
IRON FIRST HALF XI: Anyon, Clarke, Wiseman, King, Canavan, Laird, Bishop, Ness, McSheffrey, Hopper, Madden.
IRON SECOND HALF XI: Anyon, Wiseman, Mirfin, Boyce, Goode, Dawson, McAllister, Mendez-Laing, Williams, Wootton, van Veen.
BORO FIRST HALF XI: Ripley, Kalas, Jackson, Burn, Friend, Clayton, Forshaw, Wildschut, Tomlin, Reach, Kike.
BORO SECOND HALF XI: Konstantopoulos, Nsue, Ayala, Fry, Husband, Leadbitter, Cooke, Adomah, Downing, Carayol, Fewster.