ACTION PICTURES UPDATE: Oldham Athletic 1 Scunthorpe United 1
Leon Clarke continued his superb scoring run for Scunthorpe United, but they were forced to settle for a point last night at Boundary Park after Oldham Athletic levelled just before the break through Matt Derbyshire.
With the visitors making a bright start at Boundary Park, Oldham barely had time to settle before they were picking the ball out the back of the net.
Clarke bagged his third goal for United since joining on loan from Charlton, applying a fine finish to Mark Duffy's clipped ball into the penalty area inside three minutes.
And the Iron continued to apply the pressure throughout the first half, with Clarke and strike partner Karl Hawley proving a real handful for the home defence.
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Scunthorpe still had the odd nervy moment at the back, Jean Yves M'Voto attempting to beat Sam Slocombe with a header after the ball had pinged around the penalty area.
But for the large part the United stopper remained untroubled in the opening period.
At the other end of the pitch, at times, they looked a force to be reckoned – Duffy and Jimmy Ryan enjoying the freedom to employ their creative talents.
The latter sent a header over the bar from a corner in the 13th minute, then went considerably closer with an effort following another set-play – Grounds deflecting his strike beyond the post.
A minute later, Hawley added to the shots tally, another coat of paint scraped off the upright as he slotted Duffy's ball in from the right the wrong side of the woodwork.
Looking lively, Hawley tried his luck again, this time with a curled effort which required a decent save from Dean Bouzanis to push it behind.
Just when it looked like a second goal was going to come in Scunthorpe's favour, however, they found themselves back on level terms.
It was all too easy for Derbyshire to apply the finishing touch to Jonathan Grounds' ball from the left in the 40th minute at close range, and Slocombe was almost beaten again just before the whistle as he scrambled to thwart a Matt Smith header.
Oldham emerged showing more purpose after the break and quickly looked to pick up from where they left off, but it was United who came closest to breaking the stalemate again.
David Prutton had two bites of the cherry when delivering a corner from the right hand side.
David Mirfin met the first, but his header was blocked, giving Tom Newey the chance to follow up the second, only for his first-time effort to fly wide.
United were struggling to impose themselves as much in the second half and some sloppy play meant they put themselves under pressure at the back.
The hosts worked several openings, but failed to make the most of them, with some poor balls into the box letting them down.
Derbyshire tried his luck a few times but didn't really come close to testing Slocombe, blasting over the bar from range as the clock ticked down, while Lee Croft at least made the Iron keeper work with a drive effort from range.
Niall Canavan stepped in to cut out a driven cross from Reece Wabara when United threatened to be undone late on.
And they were left to breathe a huge sigh of relief at the death when referee Geoff Eltringham ruled out a goal from Robbie Simpson for a challenge on Slocombe.
OLDHAM: Bouzanis; Wabara, M'Voto, Byrne, Grounds; Croft, Furman, Wesolowski (Baxter 64), Montano; Smith (Simpson 64), Derbyshire. Subs: Cisak, Tarkowski, M'Changama, Winchester, Sutherland.
SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe; Ribeiro, Mirfin, Canavan, Newey; Duffy (Barcham 75), Walker, Prutton, Ryan (Sedgewick 89); Clarke, Hawley (Grella 88). Subs: Jennings, Severn, Gibbons, Keegan.
ATTENDANCE: 2,969 (178).