A valiant late rally from the Iron proved to be just not quite enough, as they lost 3-2 to Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena.The home side looked to be cruising heading into the final ten minutes of the match, but goals from Tom Hopper and Neal Bishop got United within striking distance. However, their admirable efforts proved in vain, as Keith Hill’s men took all three points.
There were two changes to the side which drew at home to Oxford United, as captain Stephen Dawson came back into the side in place of Richie Smallwood. In attack, Paddy Madden replaced Tom Hopper.
Graham Alexander’s men began on the front foot, and went close to landing the first blow through Josh Morris in the seventh minute. The winger was involved with a cleverly worked corner routine, which ended with him drawing a smart save out of Dale ‘keeper Conrad Logan.
A set-piece for the hosts then almost opened the Iron up, but Luke Daniels reacted superbly to tip Harrison McGahey’s strike around the post.
More frustration for Rochdale would not be too far away as, despite finding the back of the net, the score remained level. Ian Henderson had initially broken the offside trap, however his controlling of the ball with his arm meant the strike was ruled out.
Keen to reassert their authority on proceedings, United pressed forward once more. Duane Holmes’ pass set Scott Wiseman skipping down the right flank, before the full-back drove the ball across goal, with Morris a whisker away from tapping home.
That half-chance seemed to spark Alexander’s side into life, and some good counter attacking play minutes later looked as though it would bring the first goal. After Morris had whipped the ball across the face of the six yard box, Kevin van Veen stole in unmarked, but was denied by some good last ditch defending.
The chances continued to present themselves for Scunthorpe, Murray Wallace the next to go close. His looping far post header was a little too high though, as it landed on the top of the net.
The away side were then hit with a sucker punch five minutes ahead of the interval. Joe Thompson, who powered into the box unattended, had the simplest of tasks as he finished from a few yards out.
Thompson’s strike proved to be the last event of the opening period, as referee Ben Toner soon called time on the half.
United were bright in the minutes after the break, with opportunities falling the way of Holmes and Madden. However, in what seemed a repeat of the first half, Rochdale struck against the run of play, as Oliver Rathbone poked the ball home from just inside the penalty area.
The Iron went in search of a fast response, with Dawson almost catching Logan out at his near post, with a well hit right-footed effort from a tight angle.
Two chances in quick succession then were spurned by Dale. Matthew Lund had the first opportunity, but he could only stab wide from a corner, followed by a dragged effort from goalscorer Thompson.
Pushing for a way back into the game, United were dealt another blow, with substitute Calvin Andrew scoring a deflected effort after Henderson had played him in.
The drama seemed to be over, but the visitors were far from finished. Morris did brilliantly to drive the ball into the path of Hopper at the back post, who couldn’t miss as he poked home from virtually in the goal.
Scunthorpe’s never say die attitude was commendable, and they were soon within one of the hosts. Morris was again the provider, with Bishop turning home his perfectly-flighted free kick from the right.
Bishop’s strike set up a nervy finish for Rochdale, but a late effort from Morris was the last of any note, as the Iron slipped to a rare league defeat.
Rochdale: Logan, Rafferty, McNulty, McGahey, Lund, Camps, Rathbone (Cannon 88), Thompson, Davies (Andrew 59), Bunney, Henderson (Mendez-Laing 90+3).
Substitutes not used: Lillis, Canavan, Noble-Lazarus, Morley.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Wiseman, Wallace, Dawson, Madden, van Veen (Hopper 70), Morris, Bishop, Holmes (Williams 66), Goode, Townsend (Mantom 66).
Substitutes not used: Anyon, Adelakun, Smallwood, Clarke.
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