Scunthorpe United vs Spalding United

Scunthorpe United come from 2-0 down to win the Lincolnshire FA County Cup, thanks to a composed Danny Elliot hat-trick.

Underdogs Spalding United were 2-0 up at half-time, but a second-half fight back saw the Northern League North-side clinch their 23rd county cup.

Table-toppers Spalding were facing a side two leagues above them in the English football pyramid, but came to the LNER Stadium off the back of a nine game unbeaten run.

The Irons were competing in their 31st county cup final, while their opponents lined-up for their third. They had been runners-up twice before, in 1889/90 and last season.

Scunthorpe United vs Spalding United
A determined second-half fightback saw Scunthorpe United to victory.

Irons fight back to clinch cup:

Spalding scored the game’s first goal inside five minutes, as Danny Draper got his head on the end of a deep Riley O’Sullivan cross. The 25-year old nodded the ball over 6’7” goalkeeper Dan Langley, who was making his debut for the Iron after joining on loan from Oldham Athletic last week.

Scunthorpe’s Will Evans had a tame header saved by Tony Breedon, before Spalding doubled their advantage.

A clipped long-ball found Spalding Sam Bennett, who laid it off for James Clifton. He made no mistake, lashing home his 14th goal of the season into the top corner.

The first-half meandered to a close, with Scunthorpe going closest when both Evans and Dion Sembie-Ferris both smacked the woodwork in quick succession. 

The second-half started in a complete contrast to the first, as Scunthorpe looked to get themselves a foothold in the game. Sembie-Ferris forced a fine reaction stop from Breedon, who just about tipped the back round his post.

Then, the Iron had one back as Danny Elliot bundled the ball home after a scramble in the box. He claimed he got a “bit of a nick” on it post-match, while the teammate Ross Barrows also claimed the strike.  

The National League North’s second-placed side drew level from the penalty spot on the hour mark. Tom Pugh was brought down in the box by a clumsy challenge from goalscorer Clifton. Elliot stepped up and, after a staggered run up, placed the ball past Breedon. 

The game had a new energy after the break, as the two teams went back-and-forth. Clifton curled a dangerous free-kick narrowly wide, seeking to make amends for his penalty-conceding foul. 

Both managers shuffled the pack as time ticked on. However, it was Spalding star-man O’Sullivan who was making the difference. He tricked his way past a number of Scunthorpe defenders, only for his cut-back to evade the supporting cast.

Elliot completed his hat-trick and Scunthorpe’s turnaround as he slid home the late winner. The forward found himself one-on-one with Breedon, and rounded off his second hat-trick of the competition, having put four past a youthful Gainsborough Trinity in the quarter-finals.

Scunthorpe’s victory brought Jimmy Dean’s side a first county cup since 2020/21.

Scunthorpe United vs Spalding United
The LNER Stadium played host to the final.

“Moments like that will stay with me”:

Scunthorpe United manager Jimmy Dean said: “It’s a trophy, you see what it means to the fans. It’s a good experience for the players, they have won their first trophy together, and now we need to back it up and get another one.”

“I enjoyed it thoroughly, I’ve got my little boy here, I share everything with him. Moments like that when he gave the crowd a little ‘Allez’, they’re moments that will stay with me. I thank the fans for that, I thank them for sticking with us,” he added. 

Hat-trick hero Danny Elliot said: “I think we underestimated them. They are a very good side and they proved it. They shocked us a little bit.”