Match report: Crewe Alexandra 1 Scunthorpe United 0
SCUNTHORPE United's profligacy cost them dear as their unbeaten opening to 2013 came to an end in a poor game at Crewe Alexandra.
The Iron were made to pay for squandering a host of good second-half openings, with Akpo Sodje the biggest culprit.
The big striker blazed over from almost on the penalty spot in the 49th minute, on the back of a perfectly-weighted pass by Mark Duffy, and also headed and scooped other efforts wide, both of which were again set-up by the former Morecambe winger.
Each was to prove costly, too, when substitute Ajay Leitch-Smith lashed in the rebound with his first touch after Crewe captain Luke Murphy had hit the post with a 75th minute penalty.
Book a table for 2 and get £5 off with this voucher. When ringing quote: “This is Scunthorpe” promotion.
Terms: Cannot be used with any other offers or vouchers. Your email address.......................... (if you want to receive vouchers in the future). Print voucher or show us the voucher on your phone.
Contact: 01724 281289
Valid until: Saturday, June 22 2013
As a contest, the second half was a big improvement on the opening 45 minutes, during which chances had been at a premium.
The fact the closest the Iron came to breaking the deadlock came via a deflection of an Alex defender's boot summed up what had been a quiet attacking display from a visiting side unbeaten in four games going into this clash.
Goalkeeper Steve Phillips was equal to that effort, which came about when Mark Duffy's low cross spun up off the heel of Harry Davis, showing great reactions to palm the ball behind for a corner.
Phillips, otherwise, was a relative bystander, as the Iron enjoyed a few flashes of creativity in the middle of the park only to see their good possession break down in the final third.
Andy Barcham went close in the fourth minute, rattling the outside of the post after cleverly knocking the ball past full-back Kelvin Mellor and then using his pace to retain possession on the left side of the penalty area.
Although looking much more comfortable on the ball than United, Crewe's inability to carve out decent openings was equally as frustrating.
For the early part of the first half, Byron Moore was a constant threat down the right flank, at times out-witting Callum Kennedy and Barcham before putting the ball in the box.
Moore saw a rasping shot from range bravely blocked by the head of Scunthorpe skipper Paul Reid in the 21st minute after Sam Slocombe had punched clear a cross from out wide.
And 60 seconds later, the Iron keeper was grateful to see an angled drive from Bradden Inman bounce wide of the far post.
Having struggled to create in the first half, finishing was the Iron's Achilles heel after the break.
Sodje's first wasteful effort, which flew over the stand, set a frustrating tone.
A brilliant tackle from Paul Reid denied Harry Davis, and kept the game scoreless, when the ball broke kindly for the Alex centre-back at a corner.
With both sides growing increasingly desperate, the game became stretched, with Sodje the biggest beneficiary.
When Duffy swung in a brilliant ball from the right in the 59th minute, the Iron striker – yet to open his account since signing for the club a month ago – flashed a header wide.
He could only scoop a shot in the same direction, again after being teed up by Duffy with an almost carbon-copy cross, in the 63rd minute.
What proved to be the match-winning moment came with 15 minutes to go.
Tom Newey conceded a soft penalty when he was penalised for a push on Moore when the ball was lifted high into the penalty area.
Murphy took it and though he succeeded only in striking the foot of the post to Slocombe's right, Leitch-Smith – one of a double substitution made only minutes earlier – despatched it low into the net.
The threat of an equaliser never really came, despite the introduction of Mike Grella and Matt Godden from the bench.
They did not get the sort of service enjoyed by Sodje, on a day when three of the bottom five – Portsmouth being the other exception – all won.
CREWE: Phillips; Mellor, Davis (Ellis 61), Dugdale, Tootle; Inman, Osman, Murphy, Moore; Pogpa (Colclough 71), Clayton (Leitch-Smith 71). Subs not used: Martin, Turton, Robertson, Anek.
SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe; Newey, Reid, Canavan, Kennedy; Duffy, Ryan, Collins, Barcham (Godden 83); Hawley, Sodje (Grella 78). Subs not used: Severn, Mirfin, Adelakun, Walker.
ATTENDANCE: 4,302 (315 away).