Town 0 Scunthorpe United 0
Town: Chris Weale, Jermaine Grandison, Joe Jacobson, Connor Goldson, Darren Jones, Jon Taylor, Matt Richards (c) Asa Hall (McGinn, 65), Rob Purdie, Luke Rodgers (Bradshaw, 57), Marvin Morgan
Subs: Joe Anyon, Tom Bradshaw, Stephen McGinn, Ryan Woods, Cameron Gayle, Paul Parry, Aaron Wildig
Scunthorpe United: Sam Slocombe, Christian Ribeiro, Paul Reid (c), Jimmy Ryan, Damien Mozika (Barcham, 41), Niall Canavan, Mark Duffy, Michael Collins, Tom Newey, Karl Hawley, Nathan Ellington (Grella, 76)
Subs: James Severn, Callum Kennedy, David Mirfin, Mike Grella, Andy Barcham, Robbie Gibbons, Matt Godden
Referee: A. Haines
Assistants: B. Toner & J. Wilson
Fourth Official: P. Cook
Attendance: 3,044 (271)
Martin Wild reports from Glanford Park
The big team news from sunny North Lincolnshire was Asa Hall retaining his place in central midfield after replacing Aaron Wildig early doors during the New Year’s Day win at the Ricoh. Wildig dropped to the bench where he was joined by recent capture Stephen McGinn after his move from Watford. Yado Mambo wasn’t in the squad as he had to drop out with illness but Paul Parry and Cameron Gayle were fit enough to be named amongst the subs after their brief spells on the sidelines.
Shrewsbury - wearing their change colours of all white - kicked off defending the goal away to our right, behind which the travelling supporters were gathered.
Scunthorpe started the game really well forcing a couple of early corners, but Town’s defence held firm to prevent a repeat of the early goal which won the corresponding game at the Meadow for the Iron.
In the main though, with the best part of half an hour played, it was a largely forgettable affair with much of the build-up play broken up before the final third. Graham Turner will have been pleased with his side’s defending though, particularly after successive clean sheets brought a return of four points against Brentford and Coventry.
Town’s one and only chance came when Jon Taylor dumped Tom Newey on his backside and when he fizzed the ball across from right on the by-line, Luke Rodgers flashed a head at it but failed to make a connection from close range.
Two minutes later Chris Weale was called into action for the first time. Mark Duffy rolled a free kick to Nathan Ellington and the former Wigan man sent a venomous shot towards the bottom corner but the Town keeper was equal to it and shovelled the ball behind. And then Duffy wasn’t too far away for the hosts again when his angled drive flew wide of the far post.
It was still a scrappy affair and Shrewsbury weren’t able to create anything, largely because they weren’t seeing a great deal of the ball, and as a consequence chances were very much at a premium with Sam Slocombe in the home goal yet to be tested. The half drew to a close with very few noteworthy chances in the first 45 for either side.
Half Time: Scunthorpe United 0 Town 0
At the resumption substitute Andy Barcham might have done better than fire straight at Weale when he was teed up by Michael Collins, and Karl Hawley shot wide from outside the box with another decent effort for Scunthorpe. Jimmy Ryan also got a shot away from distance with Town defending the 18 yard line well and providing good cover for their goalkeeper who again gathered the shot comfortably.
Turner made a change to his strikeforce ten minutes into the second period with Tom Bradshaw coming on for the ineffectual Rodgers – although to be fair to Luke, both he and Marvin Morgan had been given nothing but the meagrest of scraps to feed off throughout.
As United continued to set the pace of the game, Collins shot straight at Weale having weaved his way into the penalty area and Hawley just failed to connect with a diving header from a dangerous ball in from the left.
Town were pegged back right enough but they continued to defend stoutly under mounting pressure. Newey forced Weale into the save of the game with a smashing tip over from a header from Duffy’s probing corner as Brian Laws’ side pressed for a breakthrough. No doubt about it Scunthorpe were in the driving seat and Turner reacted by introducing McGinn for the last 25 minutes in a bid to bolster the midfield with Hall the man to make way.
It took Salop until the 80th minute to test Slocombe and he did well to clutch Bradshaw’s 25-yarder and a minute later Bradshaw had a better opening but this time failed to test the keeper. What a let off Slocombe had with seven minutes left. In an attempt to clear a short back-pass his kick struck Morgan who closed him down quickly and the ball spun back towards his own goal. Sadly for Town, the sting had been taken out of it with the spin on the ball and it was cleared a yard or two from the line.
Ryan responded with a cracking shot – again from distance – but with Weale at full stretch and nowhere near it, the ball arced just wide of the upright.
Finally, the game had come to life and Taylor had another shot for the visitors which Slocombe did really well to keep out and deny Town the classic smash and grab raid with the clock running down towards full time.
Taylor was denied a brilliant last gasp winner by a quite stunning flying save from Slocombe and Weale’s equally important stop from Grella’s last kick of the match saw the game finish goalless. The point extends Town’s unbeaten run to seven and crucially, the side have now gone 315 minutes since conceding a goal.
Full Time: Scunthorpe United 0 Town 0