Scunthorpe United 2, Barnsley 2
(SkyBet League One)
Maybe Barnsley did concede their first goals of the season. Maybe this was a game they might have been expected to win against a lowly Scunthorpe side who had sacked their manager the previous day. Maybe the Reds did slip from third to fifth in the table as a result of picking up only one point instead of three.
But on the other hand they showed great heart, resilience and resolve to fight back from a losing position to preserve their unbeaten record with a stirring second half revival, and these are attributes they will require as much as any others if they are to achieve their dream of a first-time return to the Championship.
Head coach Daniel Stendel was forced to make his first change to the league starting line-up because of the departure of striker Tom Bradshaw, George Moncur stepping into the breach because new signing Cauley Woodrow, from Premiership Fulham, was not registered in time to make his debut.
When the latter does come into the picture Stendel is confident that he will score goals and improve the team as a whole.
But on this occasion, for the first 45 minutes the Reds appeared to be basking in the praise heaped on them after their 4-0 demolition of Rochdale in mid-week and lacked the high tempo pressure which has become a hallmark of their play since the arrival of Stendel.
With struggling Scunthorpe reeling from the departure of their manager – a certain Paul Heckingbottom is said to be the bookies’ favourite to replace him – the first half was of poor quality and lacking in goalmouth action, the only incident of note being the penalty which gave the home team the lead after only nine minutes, Dimitri Cavare bringing down Andy Dales and Josh Morris coolly tucking the spot-kick into the corner of the net.
That was not the only time that Cavare (pictured), who was also booked, was to feature in a significant moment of the encounter, being involved in both of Barnsley’s second half goals.
First, however, there was another breakthrough for Scunthorpe, only six minutes into the second period when Cameron Burgess out-jumped everyone else in a packed penalty area to head home a precision free-kick from George Thomas.
At that point the 2,300 travelling Reds’ fans must have feared the worst. But what they then saw was a rousing fight-back from their rejuvenated side, with two goals in the space of nine minutes levelling the scores.
Just before the hour mark Cavare delivered an appetising cross which brought a tasty glancing header, from mid-week hat-trick hero Kieffer Moore, which arced into the top corner of the net.
Nine minutes later provider Cavare turned goalscorer with a brilliant equaliser, for which Stendel must take some of the credit. The full-back did not seem too keen on the instruction from his coach to switch flanks, but it brought immediate success, Cavare cutting inside to net with a superb shot from 20 yards.
The goal came shortly after the introduction of substitutes Victor Adeboyejo and Jack Brown – for Dani Pinillos and Mamadou Thiam – had brought an additional attacking stimulus, and the Reds continued to pressurise the Scunthorpe defence for the remainder of the game, but could not force the winner, although Moore, Moncur and Alex Mowatt all went close.
There were those who thought that a draw was a fair result. But a glance at the statistics suggests that it was the very least Barnsley deserved. They had 60 per cent of possession; they fired in 25 shots to Scunthorpe’s eight; ten were on target, while the home team managed only the two that brought their goals; and the Oakwell team forced 11 corners, whereas the Iron had none.
The raucous Reds’ fans certainly had no doubts that their side were worthy of all three points, despite the disappointing first half, and the way the players battled back after going 2-0 down is all the more reason to believe that they are capable of earning that promotion prize.
Scunthorpe United: Watson (Flatt, 75 mins); Clarke; McArdle, Burgess, Perch, Ojo, Lund, Dales, Thomas (Colclough, 62 mins), Morrs (Horsfield, 70 mins), Novak.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Davies; Cavare, Pinnock. Lindsay, Pinillos (Adeboyejo); Potts, Dougall, Mowatt, Thiam (Brown, 63 mins); Moncur (McGeehan, 90+2 mins), Moore.
Bookings: Morris (Scunthorpe); Cavare, Lindsay, Dougall (Barnsley)
Referee: Nick Kinseley.
Attendance: 5,579 (2,300 Reds).