Scunthorpe United 1
ARGYLE’S first visit to Glanford Park for four seasons ended in defeat.
Etienne Esajas’ goal, just after the hour mark and against the run of the play, in the end proved to be the difference between the two sides.
It was tough to take for Argyle who for long periods of the game had enjoyed dominant spells.
Reuben Reid scored twice, only to see both efforts chalked off, and the Pilgrims will no doubt feel aggrieved not to have won a penalty when Andy Dawson appeared to have handled in the area.
But despite all of their efforts, they just could not find an equalise to make the 313 mile trip home that little bit easier.
In the build up to the game, Argyle manager John Sheridan had talked off sticking to his beliefs and did so by naming an unchanged side at Glandford Park.
After an opening few minutes devoid of any sustained possession or creative opportunities, it was skipper Conor Hourihane who gave the Green Army the first chance to get their hearts racing when after a foul on Lewis Alessandra, he curled a free-kick from 25 yards over the bar.
The home side hit back with a couple of chances for themselves; forcing Guy Branston to hack behind a dangerous cross before Durrell Berry snuffed out Etienne Esajas menacing run into the box with a smart tackle.
Reuben Reid then headed Jamie Reckord’s cross tamely into Scunthorpe ‘keeper Sam Slocombe’s hands before Sam Winnall shot narrowly over from distance.
But the first genuine goalscoring chance of the match fell to the Iron just shy of the half-hour when Hamza Bencherif conceded a foul on the right flank. The delivery from Esajas was good and Niall Canavan must have been convinced he had scored when he made a power connection to send the ball flying towards the Argyle goal.
But he, along with the home support, had not banked on the reflexes of ‘keeper Luke McCormick who produced a wonderful save to palm the ball over his crossbar.
Argyle retaliated through the ultra-energetic Rommy Boco who had an effort blocked on the corner of the six yards box and then finished a swift counter-attack of his own making over the bar.
Five minutes before the break, Hourihane again stood over a free-kick in a dangerous area. This time, instead of opting to shoot, he drifted in a floating ball, which, flicked on by Bencherif, found Reid at the near post. But under pressure from a recovering defender, he could only nod over.
As the half drew to a close, the Pilgrims looked the more dominant outfit and whilst the flurry of corners won in stoppage time came to nothing, the natives were certainly restless.
Just moments into the second period, Reid had the ball in the back of the net but was cut short in his celebrations by the near-side linesman, who had raised his flag as the striker had moved toward’s Alessandra’s pass.
Shortly afterwards, defender Neal Trotman was denied his first Argyle goal when Slocombe made an unorthodox save to stop him heading home Alessandra’s deep corner.
Slocombe came to his side’s rescue once more on the hour mark, denying Reid with a good diving save before tipping Boco’s header over his bar from the resultant corner.
But, despite the Pilgrims control, it was Scunthorpe who eventually took the lead when Esajas reacted first to a deflected shot to hammer the ball past McCormick.
Now with a stride in their step and home crowd back behind them Scunthorpe pushed forward for further goals as long range effort from Terry Hawkridge bounced away off McCormick’s chest before Winnall scoped the ball over with his back to goal.
Reuben Reid had enjoyed a busy afternoon but again had his head in his hands when referee Graham Scott ruled out another of his goals, this time for a push in the build-up.
With ten minutes to go, referee Scott was again at the centre of things when he waved away Argyle claims for a penalty for handball. Alessandra, who had orchestrated the move, his team-mates, the bench and the Green Army were all convinced that the ball had struck the arm of Andy Dawson, but Scott, the man’s whose opinion most mattered, disagreed.
Disheartened but not lacking in belief, Argyle continued to battle on and had Durrell Berry’s dipping effort hit the target as the clock struck 90, things could have been very different all together.
Scunthorpe United (4-4-2):
1 Sam Slocombe; 18 Eddie Nolan, 6 Niall Canavan (26 Cliff Byrne 53), 5 David Mirfin, 3 Andy Dawson (capt); 14 Terry Hawkridge, 4 Sean McAllister, 7 Matt Sparrow, 10 Etienne Essajas (28 Jimmy Spencer 75); 9 Chris Iwelumo (8 Deon Burton 66), 29 Sam Winnall. Substitutes (not used):
13 James Severn (gk), 15 Luke Waterfall, 20 Callum Howe, 22 Luke Hornsey.
Hawkridge 39, Byrne 60
23 Luke McCormick; 2 Durrell Berry, 16 Neal Trotman, 5 Guy Branston, 28 Jamie Reckord; 7 Lewis Alessandra, 6 Conor Hourihane (capt), 20 Hamza Bencherif (17 Curtis Nelson 85); 9 Reuben Reid, 8 Romuald Boco, 10 Marvin Morgan (18 Tyler Harvey 83). Substitutes (not used)
: 1 Jake Cole, 3 Andre Blackman, 4 Maxime Blanchard, 15 Paul Wotton, 27 Andres Gurrieri.
Berry 25, Reid 43
3,298 (292 away).