Scunthorpe battled back twice with ten men to ensure a 2-2 draw on Community Day, courtesy of two breathtaking goals from Liam McAlinden and Jacob Butterfield.

The Iron were back in league action to face promotion challengers Chester following a midweek encounter with Cleethorpes Town in the Lincolnshire Senior Cup, in which United triumphed to advance to the final of the competition after a 2-1 victory. Today’s encounter was to be one for the history books as the National League North attendance record of 6,311 was to be broken by Scunthorpe in emphatic fashion.

In terms of team news, Iron manager Jimmy Dean made two changes to the starting XI that defeated an inform Alfreton Town team a week prior. Firstly, captain and midfield commander Michael Clunan dropped out of the squad with an injury to be replaced by workhorse Tom Pugh. Elsewhere front-man Danny Whitehall came back into the starting line-up as he was preferred over Danny Elliott. The only other change was to be Norwich City loanee Flynn Clarke who made his way onto the bench.

The visiting Seals got the game underway with the Iron looking to continue their late push toward the Vanarama National League North title. 

The Iron the fixture started exceedingly well, with each player channelling the energy that was erupting from both sets of fans. With no more than five minutes on the clock United saw their first sight of goal, some neat offensive interplay allowed the ball to find ball whipping wizard Liam McAlinden who sent an instinctive curling effort that stung the gloves of goalkeeper Wyll Stanway who turned the ball behind.

Scunthorpe’s fast paced start continued long into the first half’s action, however no player in claret and blue was able to turn any of the numerous half chances into the Blues goal.

With 30 minutes played Chester got there first opportunity of the encounter and from which managed to take the advantage against the run of play. A long ball down the touch line found Ben Tollitt, who strode around his marker and wrongfooted Iron goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons by slotting the ball comfortably into the near post making it 1-0.

United remained determined to get their goal in the latter stages of the half, however the Blues saw out the half and went into the break with a one goal advantage.

Scunthorpe took to the Attis Arena turf for the start of the second half with a mountain to climb against a Chester team that are notorious for their defensive solidity, however with Dean’s men attacking the packed out Britcon stand there was still an abundance of hope.

Within two minutes of the restart, the Iron went in search of an immediate equaliser, as firstly the long ranged piledriver of Will Evans was blocked on its way to goal, the loose ball made its way to Kian Scales who strode onto the bouncing ball and directed an accurate low effort goalward that was turned away by Stanway.

The newly-born half was being dominated by United and again Evans tried his luck at goal from range, however this time no Seals defender was able to interrupt the arrowing effort and it would have soared in if not for the intervention of Stanway who smothered the ball.

On the 60th minute mark, Scunthorpe’s patient wait for an equaliser was finally brought to an end as a long-lofted cross from Dion Sembie-Ferris found the expertly timed run of McAlinden who leapt like a salmon to meet the cross as his header snuck past Stanway found the bottom corner much to the relief of the Scunthorpe faithful.

The relief was short lived though, as again Chester took the lead less than two minutes later. As Blues captain George Glendon sauntered through the Iron defensive line Pugh recovered brilliantly to retrieve the ball only for it to somehow trickle beyond Fitzsimons and into the empty goal.

Within the minutes that followed, chaos began to ensue across the field all because of a mistimed challenged from McAlinden who was immediately displayed a red card, hence sending the goalscorer for an early bath.

Down to 10 men, more chaos transpired as an all-out brawl broke out deep within the Chester half. After a lengthy discussion that would later accumulate to ten additional minutes the referee Luis Griffiths continued with the theme of cards as he produced five yellow cards for numerous offenses.

As the action continued, Scunthorpe continued to fight valiantly and refused to surrender to the visitors despite the numerical disadvantage. And with five minutes of normal time to go, the prayers of all Scunthorpe supporters were answered as a superb weaving run from deep by Butterfield allowed him to wonder into an inch of space on the edge of the area and tremendously whip the ball into the far corner to make it 2-2.

In the ten minutes of additional time neither side backed down from the battle as Chester resounded to long ranged efforts that Fitzsimons comfortably dealt with under pressure. 

Late into affairs, United were pushing for what would surely be the winner and the chance seemed to arrive when Whitehall broke in behind the Blues back line, but before he could pull the trigger he as hauled down for what appeared to be a stonewall penalty, but Griffiths waved away the claims.

With the last action of the game Scunthorpe had their best opportunity yet. A low swept cross form Sembie-Ferris was spilled by Stanway. The stray ball landed at the feet of an off balanced Alfie Beestin who drilled the ball onto the crossbar to conclude a historic encounter at the Attis Arena both on and off the field.

An exquisite battle from both sides in participation, as the incredible support from both sets of fans were portrayed a fantastic end-to-end encounter.

IRON: Fitzsimons, Ogle (Elliott, 79), Evans, Boyce, McAlinden, Pugh (Beestin, 66), Butterfield, Scales, Sembie-Ferris, Denton, Whitehall.

IRON SUBS: Kelly, Clarke, Barrows.

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