After returning to winning ways last weekend against Huddersfield Town, the Iron Under 18’s succumbed to a 3-1 defeat away at Lincoln City on Saturday morning in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup.
On what was a wonderful surface for United’s youngsters in yet another Lincolnshire battle, Scunthorpe most definitely started the game the brighter of the two sides, with striker Charley Strouther carving out the side's first real chance of the game just two minutes into proceedings.
The Iron’s number 10 was on the receiving end of some superb build up play from both Jack Moore-Billam and Harrison Poulter, as his eventual shot was beaten away by the Lincoln City keeper, Sam Edwards.
Just ten minutes into the already feisty encounter, Josh Robertson received the game’s first caution, as United’s number 11 was unfortunate with his initial touch before arriving a little too late on Hayden Cann and subsequently shown a yellow card.
On 27 minutes, Moore-Billam was once again involved as he stole possession from the heart of the Imps midfield before Poulter and Strouther took just a little too long in finding that killer blow, as Strouther’s eventual deflected effort rolled away for a corner after what was an impressive high press that was causing the home side numerous problems in the opening half an hour.
The subsequent corner was delivered magnificently by Harry Lewis so much so that the ball sailed over Edwards in the Lincoln goal and cannoned back off the far post before the home side’s goalkeeper gathered the ball reluctantly, keeping the scores level.
10 minutes later, Lincoln began to find a foothold in the game and captain Billy Brooks’ effort from range sailed just over the Iron’s crossbar, before Imps striker Rashid Tinjani should have put his side ahead if not for a superb reaction save from Iron goalkeeper Jake Balme.
Tinjani was again involved minutes before the interval, as the Lincoln No 9 twisted and turned on the edge of the United penalty area before his effort clipped the upright and luckily rolled into the hands of Balme.
Lewis then delivered wonderfully and found Poulter up the other end as the action sprung into life in the first half. The Scunthorpe striker just couldn’t generate enough power to find the back of the net in his first real sight on goal.
And with seconds remaining of the first 45, Tinjani rounded Balme in what look certain to be the game's opener before sparing the Iron’s blushes as he lost his footing at the vital moment and blasted his effort into the side netting.
As the second half began, Scunthorpe had captain Oliver Lobley to thank as United’s No 6 cleared the ball miraculously off the line as Tinjani and Danny Oliver had combined well and again should have opened the scoring if not for the heroics of Lobley.
However, just five minutes later, the game’s first goal arrived as some superb individual play from Brooks allowed room for him to lay the ball into the path of Ethan Hilton, as the Imps winger fired the home side into the lead in what had been a tightly contested derby thus far.
The Iron were only behind for a small matter of 90 seconds albeit, as Lewis’ free-kick was smartly saved by Edwards in the City goal before the resulting corner was deflected into the net off the knee of the Imps defender as Scunthorpe looked to build heading into the final 20 minutes at the Lincoln City Elite Performance Centre.
The parity unfortunately only lasted a mere two minutes, as a super free kick from Hilton was lashed home to give his side the lead again, converting his second of the game.
On 81 minutes, the Imps added a third as Tinjani finished smartly after some good build up play from Denny Oliver as the Iron would rue early missed chances in a spirited and battling performance in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup.
Academy manager Tony Daws was impressed with his side's battling performance and admitted his side should have made the most of their early dominance to give themselves a strong platform to build upon.
"We have to be more ruthless in and around the box and I think to be fair by the time they scored their first goal we generally could have scored two or three goals," said the Iron U18’s boss.
Daws added: "The first half performance is the way we want to play and ultimately we lacked a little bit of guile, Lincoln going ahead gave them the confidence to dictate the game."
Goalkeeper Jake Balme was full of praise for his teammates, adding: "I think we need to stay positive, we’re going to get results like this and first half we had a good foundation to build off. We had our chances and they had theirs, we’ll of course go again next week and hopefully work hard to come out on top next weekend."
United’s next game is an away trip to Burton Albion in the EFL Youth Alliance League with the Iron hoping to make it two wins from two in league action in Staffordshire.
IRON: Balme (Foster, 82); Cribb, Moore (Pike, 82), Young, Lewis (Wallace, 82); Lobley (Elliott-Bell, 82) Franklin, Moore-Billam, Robertson; Strouther (Sellars-Fleming, 67), Poulter.