safc.com’s Oscar Chamberlain reviews all the action from Glanford Park as Sunderland faced Scunthorpe United in their penultimate pre-season outing.
From clattered woodworks to late drama, both sides worked tirelessly in a tight encounter that provided plenty of talking points ahead of the new campaign.
NEW ARRIVALS STEELE THE SPOTLIGHT
The pre-match build-up was somewhat overshadowed at Glanford Park, with a flurry of new signings announced within an hour of kick-off. As the Black Cats warmed up ahead of the game, the action was well underway on Wearside as Lewis Grabban and Jason Steele became Simon Grayson’s fifth and sixth summer signings. The former signed on a season-long loan from AFC Bournemouth as the stopper penned a four-year deal from Blackburn Rovers, but as the dust settled at the Academy of Light it was all systems go 131 miles away as Darren Brysdale signalled the start of proceedings in North Lincolnshire…
As Grabban and Steele went for a lie down following a busy day, there was no such luxury for the Aiden McGeady as the Republic of Ireland was handed his first start in red and white. The 31-year-old showed some nice touches in the opening period with a trademark run leading to a chance for James Vaughan, but the striker’s acrobatic effort flew well wide. Joel Asoro, who started wide right, was also bright in the opening stages with the Swede testing wing-back Conor Townsend and putting a number of inviting crosses into the box. Scunthorpe also showed their intent from the off and they weren’t afraid to keep the ball, but Sunderland’s John O’Shea-led defence were more than capable of thwarting the Iron.
WOODWORK TO THE RESCUE
Funso Ojo’s first Glanford Park outing proved to be a memorable one for the Iron’s new boy, but it could have been so much sweeter. Neither side could carve out a meaningful chance in the opening 45 minutes, and although the Black Cats stepped it up a gear following the restart it was the home side who went closest. Moments after George Honeyman forced a composed save from Matt Gilks, the ball dropped to Ojo, who impressed throughout, 35 yards from goal and he wasted no time in fizzing an effort towards trialist Robbin Ruiter. It dipped, it dived and at one point it looked like sailing miles over, but the venomous attempt ended up kissing the underside of the crossbar before the Black Cats scrambled the ball away as parity remained – just.
Scunthorpe’s line-up caught the eye ahead of the game with Graham Alexander deploying two wing backs and three central defenders. And as the game entered the final 20 minutes, it almost paid off. Left-back Conor Townsend was a livewire from the first minute til the last and he combined with Paddy Madden to devastating effect, but from a tight angle he was unable to test Ruiter and lashed an effort across the face of goal. At the other end, Asoro went closest with a quick turn and a thumping strike forcing Matt Gilks into a flying save as the game entered the final stretch.
With one minute of normal time remaining and the game fizzling out, a goalless draw seemed inevitable, but a flurry of chances saw both sides threaten right at the death. The Iron were first to strike and Townsend was once again involved, with substitute Kevin van Veen powering a header towards goal where Ruiter made an outstanding point-blank save before O’Shea made a vital block. Seconds later, van Veen turned and looped an effort wide but the Black Cats struck back as Honeyman forced Gilks into a superb save low to his left. But even then the action wasn’t over, and with seconds remaining Jordan Clarke’s rasping effort flew inches wide of the post before the first whistle sounded around Glanford Park.
Scunthorpe United: Gilks, Clarke, Townsend, Wallace, Ojo (van Veen 64), Madden (Margetts 78), Morris, Bishop, Adelakun (Holmes 78), Burgess, McArdle (Goode 78).
Subs not used: Watson, Hopper, Sutton, Wootton.
Sunderland: Ruiter, Matthews, Galloway (Jones 71, Beadling 90), O’Shea, Kone, Gibson (Cattermole 60), Embleton (Ndong 60), Honeyman, Asoro, McGeady (Khazri 60), Vaughan (Love 71).
Subs not used: Mika, E Robson.