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Match Reports

Report: Iron 0-0 Boston United (4-5 on pens)

27 April 2024

Match Reports

Report: Iron 0-0 Boston United (4-5 on pens)

27 April 2024

Scunthorpe lost out on a play-off final spot to Boston as they were unfortunately defeated on penalties.

The Iron were set to begin their National League North play-off campaign with a semi-final home tie against Lincolnshire neighbours Boston United. The Pilgrims brought with them large numbers to add to the bumper attendance for the day, and were hoping to topple United following their victory over Alfreton in midweek.

Iron manager Jimmy Dean made an onslaught of changes to his side that defeated Gloucester on the final game of the league season. Firstly, shot stopper Ross Fitzsimons regained his position between the sticks in place of Dan Langley. In midfield, skipper Michael Clunan returned to the base of the diamond with Kian Scales and Jacob Butterfield sitting in front of him. In another change, Cal Roberts returned to the starting XI to replace Jason Law and lastly, Danny Whitehall claimed his spot leading the line.

The visitors got the game underway with both teams attacking their opposite supporters. With all four sides of the Attis Arena rocking with anticipation ahead of the encounter it was fair to say that it was a nervy opening five minutes as both teams frantically attempted to forge an early chance. 

The first notable opportunity was indeed of Scunthorpe’s making, as no more than ten minutes in Boston goalkeeper Cameron Gregory was called into action to deal with a deep cross from Cal Roberts. The ferocious delivery wasn’t dealt with and forced Gregory into a sublime reaction stop to keep the scores level. 

As the minutes ticked by the sides became more and more deadlocked, matching each other every step of the way it would take something special to break the bind and Boston almost found it 28 minutes into play. Following some quick thinking out from the back possession made its way to Keaton Ward in the centre of the park, Ward steamed down the pitch and unleashed a low-driven effort towards goal that was parried by Fitzsimons and narrowly avoided the diving head of Kelsey Mooney on the rebound.

For the remainder of first-half proceedings neither side was able to break down their opponents as time evaporated on referee Zac Kennard-Kettle’s watch as he called for the interval.

When the second half finally got back underway, the tensions were raised immediately as the Pilgrims found themselves incredibly lucky to not have conceded a penalty. Some majestic interplay from Alfie Beestin and Whitehall allowed Beestin to storm through on goal and be chopped down inside the area, despite the colossal penalty appeals the referee decided to award a goal kick to much disbelief.

Almost immediately after the penalty appeal, Boston decided it was their turn to attack with intent and came awfully close to finding the opener. When the ball had failed to be cleared the Pilgrims pounced and worked the ball to Dylan Hill on the edge of the area who blazed slightly over the crossbar.

Now with half an hour remaining the game was entering its terrible territory as Boston began to threaten. During their sustained period of pressure, the visitors were denied their goal once again by Fitzsimons who superbly got down to his left to prevent Jordan Richards from grabbing a well-deserved goal after he’d broken through. 

In an attempt steady the ship once more, the Iron began to flood forward with a winning goal in their sights. The wide-man Roberts had been troublesome all day up against Brad Nicholson and on one particular occasion Roberts chopped inside and sent a scintillating curling effort towards goal that was sensationally tipped wide by Gregory.

Scunthorpe now found themselves in charge of proceedings and began to counter-attack in large numbers when possible. This benefited the Iron as it allowed overlaps on both flanks and after multiple attempts the ball finally found its way into Whitehall in acres of space in the penalty area, with Gregory rushing out to meet the striker, Whitehall calmly slotted the ball to Roberts with an open goal to aim for, but the ball was unfortunately snatched away from his feet by a recovering defender. 

In a similar fashion to the first period of play the game began to ebb slowly away and soon the referee’s whistle indicated the end of normal time and set in motion a gruelling 30 minutes of extra time. 

As the first period of extra time was begun it became blatantly obvious that Boston was shaping up for their second round of penalties in the space of a week as they saw off every Iron attempt for the first 15 minutes. 

As legs grew tired and cramp kicked in the encounter spiralled into a battle of fitness. In all fairness United obtained more of the chances but Boston was cunning on the break and only just fell short of grabbing a certain winner late on.

When the referee’s whistle sounded to commence a penalty shootout Scunthorpe were eventually undone as Gregory saved the all-important spot kick to condemn the Iron to another season in the National League North.

IRON: Fitzsimons, Ogle, Kouogun, Evans, Clunan, Beestin (McAlinden, 78), Roberts (Sembie-Ferris, 95), Butterfield (Elliott, 94), Scales, Barrows, Whitehall.

IRON SUBS: Langley, Boyce.

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