The Iron were held to a 0-0 draw by a resolute Walsall side at Glanford Park.Scunthorpe pushed for what would have been a decisive strike throughout the game, but the Saddlers held firm to take a share of the spoils.
There were three alterations to the United side which started Saturday’s match against Shrewsbury Town, with Jamie Ness, Ivan Toney and Paddy Madden coming in for Neal Bishop, Kevin van Veen and Tom Hopper respectively.
The visitors created the first chance, seven minutes into proceedings. Jason McCarthy was fed on the right by Isaiah Osbourne, with the ball then being whipped into Simeon Jackson, who’d made a darting run to the near post. The Canadian got a decent contact on his header, but Luke Daniels stretched out his right arm to palm the effort away from danger.
It was then the turn of Graham Alexander’s side to manufacture an opening of their own. Good initial link-up play down the right flank from Madden and Duane Holmes resulted in the ball landing at the feet of Toney. The Newcastle United loanee span and attempted to shoot, but the ball evaded him slightly. Harry Toffolo then followed up with a long range effort which was subsequently blocked.
Opportunities proved few and far between in the first period, and it took until five minutes before the interval for the next one to arrive. It came the way of Toffolo once more - who, after wriggling free, was able to stab the ball goalwards, but into the hands of Saddlers ‘keeper Neil Etheridge.
That strike from the full-back proved to be the last incident of the half, as referee Graham Salisbury soon called a halt on proceedings.
Walsall were bright in the minutes after the restart, and they quickly got sight of goal - on two occasions in quick succession. Jackson, who had tested Daniels at pretty much the same point in the opening period, did so again. A slick one-two brought about a chance for the frontman, and he then drew a smart save out of the Iron stopper.
The second of the Saddlers’ attempts came off the left boot of substitute Kieron Morris. However, despite the powerful nature of the shot, Daniels was never troubled and simply watched the effort fly past his post.
Daniels did though have work to do as the game ticked towards it’s final quarter. Joe Edwards thought he’d got the game’s first goal, but he was to be denied by a superb piece of goalkeeping from United’s man between the sticks, who somehow reached out and tipped the ball onto the crossbar.
Alexander’s men continued to search for the elusive opener, but the away side were holding firm. 65 minutes in, the ball dropped for Madden at the far post, with the Irishman stood in an offside position when he poked his effort at Etheridge from close range.
As the game wore on, the home side began to take a grip of matters, and substitute Craig Davies had Etheridge scrambling with a deflected strike that went behind for a corner.
Josh Morris did his best to produce a moment of magic late on. However, his low left-footed strike didn’t have the power to find the bottom corner of the net.
A sucker-punch almost arrived in the final minutes of the match, as Erhun Oztumer let fly from distance. Daniels came up with the goods once more though, with a marvellous diving save.
That one golden chance nearly fell to Morris in the dying seconds when Madden stretched to hook the ball across the face of goal, but United’s top marksman was snuffed out by some terrific last ditch defending, as the game finished level.
Scunthorpe United: Daniels, Wallace, Mirfin, Dawson, Madden, Morris, Toffolo, Holmes (van Veen, 70), Toney (Davies, 70), Ness (Bishop, 77), Sutton.
Substitutes not used: Anyon, Hopper, Goode, Crooks.
Walsall: Etheridge, Edwards, O'Connor, McCarthy, Chambers, Cuvelier (Morris, 37), Jackson (Bakayoko, 76), Oztumer, Osbourne, Preston, O'Connell.
Substitutes not used: MacGillivray, Dobson, Randall, Roberts, Moussa.
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