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Match Reports

Report: Southport 0-1 Iron

1 April 2024

Match Reports

Report: Southport 0-1 Iron

1 April 2024

Scunthorpe scraped through a hardworking Southport side with a 1-0 victory. The result certainly wasn’t a pretty one, but could be ever so crucial in the race for promotion.

The Iron travelled to the Big Help Stadium for an Easter Monday encounter with mid-table optimists Southport. The battle between United and the Sandgrounders had been one that had been engraved into Football League history, however the sides met on the day with Scunthorpe hoping to cement their place in the National League North’s top two sides.

First team manager Jimmy Dean rotated heavily for the fixture in order to keep legs fresh in the race for the play-offs. The first of Dean’s five alterations was to be United’s top scorer Danny Whitehall, who returned to the starting XI in order to replace fellow frontman Danny Elliott. Elsewhere, changes were made on both wide flanks as Cal Roberts and Flynn Clarke made way for the returning Alfie Beestin and Dion Sembie-Ferris. Finally, there was a reshuffle in the Iron midfield with skipper Michael Clunan missing through injury and creative midfielder Jacob Butterfield dropping to the bench, the two experienced faces found themselves replaced by alike options in Liam McAlinden and Kian Scales.

As proceedings were set underway by the hosts, the early stages were those of two combatting styles of play. Scunthorpe’s usual slick passing play was being met by the often longball approach from the Sandgrounders.

Those in attendance were made to wait until the 10th minute for the first chance of note when Southport were awarded a corner. A swiftly swung cross into the danger area was allowed to evade all attempts of clearing the ball until it found the unsuspecting Harry Flowers, who directed an effort towards goal off his thigh that was caught by Ross Fitzsimons in goal.

In an attempt to claim the game’s opening goal, Scunthorpe were constantly advancing into the home sides half and managed to forge a superb opportunity after some neat possession play. The patient build-up from the Iron eventually allowed Whitehall to brilliantly back heel the ball into the run of Beestin on the edge of the area who forced a much needed stop out of goalkeeper Tony McMillan. 

Other than referee Jonathan Chadwick going down with an injury, the half was proving to be a tightly contested affair with neither side creating any chances of great notability, however mere minutes before the break the Iron produced the best chance of the game so far. Beestin’s initial strike from range was parried away by McMillan who palmed the ball into the bath of Whitehall. Without thinking, the striker pulled possession back to stand in captain Andrew Boyce on the edge of the six-yard box who flicked the ball into the face of the keeper to prevent it from going in. During the goalmouth scramble that proceeded to happen no player in claret and blue could force the ball home meaning that the scores remained level going into the break.

As the second half began, both sides would’ve been hoping for a half of more clinical finishing that would see them stride into the lead. In the opening exchanges, it was Scunthorpe who started the brighter, as they began an aerial bombardment of the hosts box, swinging in cross after cross but to no avail. 

As the Sandgrounders attempted to relieve the pressure of the onslaught they sent a long searching ball forward that was collected by Kian Scales. Under pressure, Scales went to turn and was subsequently slammed to the floor by Josh Hmami who robbed the ball after the foul appeal was waved away, and drove at the Scunthorpe defence. Hmami stormed into the area and pulled the trigger only to see his effort deflected away from goal by Boyce.

Hmami was beginning to seem a constant threat for the home side and proved this with another golden chance from the edge. A surging drive forward by ex-EFL midfielder Danny Philliskirk allowed him to tee up Hmami on his favoured left-foot. The winger cut across the ball and sent his strike soaring just wide of Fitzsimons’s far post.

Time for an Iron winner was beginning to run out, however following the inspired substitution that saw Danny Elliott join the fray, Scunthorpe began to create a vast array of attacks. One of those previously mentioned attacks seemed bound to eventually bear fruit and it did so on the stroke of added time being announced. On his second crossing attempt, Elliott spotted the untraced run of Max Kouogun at the far post, the bouncing cross hit the chest of Kouogun and somehow beat the goalkeeper to kickstart emphatic United celebrations.

After a tense six minutes of additional time the proceedings were finally brought to an end by the official’s whistle meaning that the Iron returned to winning ways with a first league victory in April since 2018.

IRON: Fitzsimons, Ogle, Kouogun, Boyce, Beestin (Roberts, 59), McAlinden (Elliott, 75), Pugh, Scales (Butterfield, 59), Sembie-Ferris, Denton, Whitehall.

IRON SUBS: Corbett, Leesley.

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