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Scunthorpe United 1 Rovers 1

23 February 2019

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Rovers had to settle for a point at Glanford Park as a first-half goal from Mallik Wilks was cancelled out by Kyle Wootton's header in the second-half.

Grant McCann opted for one change to his side that suffered Emirates FA Cup defeat on Sunday with Mallik Wilks coming in for Alfie May. May dropped to the bench and was joined by Tyler Smith who had been cup tied.

Stuart McCall also made one change to his side that lost to Gillingham on the previous weekend. Adam Hammill replaced Kevin van Veen.

Rovers started brightly and within two minutes, Tom Anderson had seen his header brush past the far post. Soon after, Herbie Kane's curling shot from distance forced a decent save from Jak Alnwick between the Iron sticks.

The match certainly had a derby feel and while a lot of noise was being made by the supporters, neither team was really rising to the occasion. Shots were few and far between while fouls were numerous – the first yellow was awarded after just 10 minutes when Levi Sutton scythed down John Marquis on the half-way line.

Scunthorpe were pacey enough to keep the Rovers defence on their toes but they struggled to really test Marko Marosi. At the other end, Ali Crawford saw three free-kicks saved comfortably by Alnwick and the game looked to be hitting a bit of a stalemate.

Football dictates that it only takes one chance to change a game and Mallik Wilks was given that chance just before the half-hour mark. He lost his man Harrison McGahey and swept home a Herbie Kane cross past Alnwick.

The travelling fans sang "Wilks will tear you apart again" and McGahey – who probably did not have fond memories of his previous meeting with Wilks when he was part of the Rochdale side which lost 5-0 at the Keepmoat Stadium on New Year's Day – might well have feared that that would be the case.

With the home side beginning to knock the ball into the crowd, out of the stadium, and over the defence for Marosi to collect unchallenged, the Iron faithful were starting to lose faith. The Rovers fans, however, were buoyed as chances from Wilks, and James Coppinger went close.

Despite Rovers' dominance in possession, they couldn't find that all-important second goal and they suffered a scare just before half-time when Wootton's header looked to be looping over Marosi and dipping under the crossbar. The keeper did brilliantly to drag the ball off the line and away from danger.

Neither manager made any changes at half-time, but there was a slight change in the game's momentum with Scunthorpe flying out of the traps and pressing high. The home side's change of tact almost played into Rovers' hands as the visitors mounted a quick break. Wilks found the run of Herbie Kane into the Iron penalty box, the Liverpool loanee only needed to knock the ball square so that John Marquis could tap into an empty net but some smart defending from the Iron defender thwarted Kane.

Minutes later, another break saw Marquis return the favour. His pass found Kane, but the 20-year-old's effort was deflected wide and that combination looked likely to prove fruitful again when Wilks' effort smashed against the near post and was picked up by Kane. Kane found Marquis in front of an open goal but the number 9 somehow managed to scoop the ball over the bar from three yards.

Rovers seemed like they were beginning to impose themselves on the second-half but it was Iron who would come closest to claiming the next goal. Marosi made a fantastic full-length save down to his right to deny a headed effort by McCardle. The resulting corner caused a chaotic twenty seconds in the Rovers' box with both sides throwing legs and bodies at the ball. It was Wootton who would get the shot away, his strike on the turn was pulled just wide.

Wootton did not miss when he was next called upon. Tony McMahon floated a ball into the Rovers box and Wootton attacked the header to claim an equaliser.

With less than 15 minutes of the match remaining, McCann changed things up with Coppinger and Wilks replaced by Smith and Kieran Sadlier. It seemed a shrewd move by the manager as Smith saw a chance blocked with virtually his first touch, despite that early half-chance, it was the home side who would finish the match strongest.

Corner after corner required good - and sometimes last ditch - defending from Rovers, Wootton's attempt at a bicycle kick went just wide, and substitutes James Perch and Olufela Olomola both went close.

Rovers would have one final chance of their own deep in injury time, Danny Andrew's free-kick was headed just wide by Paul Downing but Rovers had to settle for a point.


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