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Match Reports

Report: Darlington 4-0 Iron

5 March 2024

Match Reports

Report: Darlington 4-0 Iron

5 March 2024

Scunthorpe were comfortably defeated 4-0 by Darlington thanks to a double from Cameron Salkeld and two further strikes from Cedric Main and Matty Cornish.

The Iron were back in away action for a previously rearranged fixture against relegation candidates Darlington. The game was to be Scunthorpe’s chance to close the gap between them and table toppers Tamworth.

Scunthorpe made one change to the starting XI that was held to a thrilling draw with Chester at the weekend. The change came in as a straight swap as versatile midfielder Tom Pugh dropped to the bench and was replaced by the attack-minded Alfie Beestin. In other news, captain Michael Clunan returned to the bench after missing Saturday’s encounter with a leg injury. 

The hosts were to get the game underway at Blackwell Meadows hoping to overturn the Iron using the home advantage they possessed. It was Darlo who started the more offensively promising of the two sides, despite the fact Scunthorpe had controlled the early possession.

A pinpoint through ball from Darlington wing-back Ben Hedley found the run of Matty Cornish. Cornish strode down the line and set the ball back to the steaming run of experienced midfielder Will Hatfield who broke into the box and fired a low shot goalward that was tipped behind superbly by the outstretched foot of Ross Fitzsimons, hence spearing Scunthorpe’s early blushes.

Within the five minutes that followed, United struck back with a troubling shot of their own. A fantastic forward flick from McAlinden found the feet of Kian Scales who ran at the Darlington backline in direct fashion before sending a ferocious shot towards Matty Young between the home posts, Young stopped the initial strike and managed to smother the ball on his second attempt.

15 minutes into the so far end-to-end encounter Darlington managed to forge the first goal of the encounter after some patient build-up. The first threat was convincingly dealt with by the Iron; however, the second long lofted cross was knocked down to the feet of Cameron Salkeld, who smashed the ball beyond the clasping hands of Fitzsimons to make it 1-0.

Following the opening goal, the hosts continued to progress into United’s half and proceeded to look threatening from set pieces. Two consecutive Cornish free-kicks for the home side were sent dipping over the wall only to drop just over the bar at the last moment much to the relief of Fitzsimons.

As United advanced in search of an equaliser they were left exposed to the possibility of a Darlo counterattack. This proposition was soon enforced as a long-lofted pass caught out the Scunthorpe backline allowing forward Cedric Main to burst in behind and power a low drive shot beneath Fitzsimons to increase the hosts lead. 

In the last action of the first half, United were unable to make use of their mass of possession which allowed Darlo to strike quickly again. Another long-lofted ball found the feet of the right-winger on the far side, who brought down the pass and slid the ball inside to Salkeld who made no mistake when placing the ball past Fitzsimons to conclude a disappointing first half display. 

The sides returned from the tunnel for the second period of play with the Iron requiring a substantially better performance across the pitch. 

The second half started not too dissimilar to the first as the Iron continued to control possession but failed to create anything of note when going forward as Young was left untroubled between the posts.

On the 60th minute mark things went from bad to worse for United as Darlington struck again. In his first involvement in the game, captain Clunan misplaced a back pass that fell kindly to Cornish who slotted the ball past Fitzsimons, hence rubbing salt into Scunthorpe’s gaping wounds. 

Scunthorpe’s problems were far from over, as Darlington were handed a further advantage by referee Callum Jones.  A twisting turn from Main on the edge of the area proceeded to suck in centre-back Andrew Boyce like a Dyson vacuum, Boyce committed a foul on Main and was hence shown his second caution of the evening reducing the Iron to ten men.

And with that the bitterly disappointing tie in the north-east was finally concluded as Darlo saw out the final ten minutes to earn a 4-0-win in front of a bouncing Blackwell Meadows crowd.

IRON: Fitzsimons, Ogle, Evans, Boyce, Beestin, McAlinden (Elliott, 61), Butterfield (Clunan, 61), Scales, Sembie-Ferris, Denton, Whitehall (Barrows, 78).

IRON SUBS: Kelly, Pugh.

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