Sheffield United booked their place in the second round of the northern section of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy after beating Scunthorpe 5-3 on penalties last night.
After a dour, drab affair, the two sides needed spot kicks to separate them and the Blades converted all five of their penalties, with Sean McGinty scoring the winner.
Neill Collins, Jose Baxter, Conor Coady and Lyle Taylor all converted from 12 yards. The only man to miss was Iron substitute Andy Welsh, who was denied by Mark Howard.
It is the second time Scunthorpe have lost to South Yorkshire opposition on penalties this season, having already lost to Barnsley in the Capital One Cup.
United manager David Weir opted to shuffle his pack, making six alterations from the side beaten by MK Dons last weekend. With George Long away on international duty with England’s Under-21s, Mark Howard got the nod in between the sticks. There were also first-team recalls for Darryl Westlake, Stephen McGinn, Callum McFadzean and Joe Ironside. Weir also decided to hand deadline day recruit Florent Cuvelier his debut.
Matt Hill, Michael Doyle, Lyle Taylor, Jose Baxter and Jamie Murphy dropped out. There was no place in the squad for Manchester City loanee Harry Bunn while Febian Brandy missed out due to suspension.
Buoyed by recently securing new foreign investment in the shape of Saudi Arabian Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, it was United who started on the front foot and created the first meaningful opportunity in the 13th minute when McFadzean when burst forward at pace before unleashing a fierce left foot shot which tested the reflexes of Sam Slocombe.
Scunthorpe, managed by ex-Owls chief Brian Laws, hit back instantly as Christian Ribeiro teed up Jimmy Spencer, on loan from Huddersfield Town, and his close range effort had Howard backpedalling but he acrobatically tipped it over.
Coady, a calming influence in front of the back four, played a lovely pass into the path of McFadzean in the 35th minute and the youngster tried to delicately chip Slocombe but he scooped his shot into the stand.
Two minutes before the interval, Neill Collins, captain for the night in the absence of Doyle, picked out McFadzean and his speculative drive flew well off target. The Iron almost broke the deadlock in the 48th minute after Andy Dawson freed Etienne Esajas on the left flank and the lively Dutchman fed Spencer, who saw his shot superbly kept out by Howard.
Then Ironside, who cut a forlorn, isolated figure for long periods of the contest, raced on to a clever through ball from Coady but, from an acute angle, he fired straight at Slocombe.
United, sitting in 17th position in League One having collected just four points out of a possible 15, threw on Lyle Taylor and Jose Baxter to try and give themselves a cutting edge in the final third. A rasping shot from Ryan Flynn drifted narrowly off target while McMahon, playing as a makeshift left-back, went close to opening the scoring.
Midway through the second period, Sean McAllister found Ribeiro in acres of space on the right wing and his cross turned shot was brilliantly tipped away by Howard.
Scunthorpe threatened to snatch a winner in the dying minutes of normal time, with Spencer rising unchallenged to nod substitute Terry Hawkridge’s corner inches wide.