Micheal Jacobs’ precision first half finish earned a hard fought draw at Glandford Park to keep Gary Caldwell’s men in 5th place in Sky Bet League One as they prepare for three consecutive home matches in nine days.
Latics had chances to score more, especially in a second half that they dominated but at the other end they also had to thank Jussi Jaaskelainen for a couple of key saves as the home side bombarded his goal with a succession of high balls.
Caldwell made two changes from Monday’s trip to Fleetwood, recalling Yanic Wildschut and Chris McCann in place of Reece James and Donald Love, who both dropped to the bench.
The team went in level at the break after a half in which Latics had to come from behind despite enjoying plenty of possession.
They took a few minutes to settle down, allowing Kevin Van Veen two strikes on goal before Andy Kellett tried to weave an audacious path through the centre of the home defence and Yanic Wildschut’s more direct approach saw Luke Daniels having to get down smartly to hold on to his shot from inside the area.
Latics looked to be in control when the home side went ahead after 20 minutes following a neat counter attack, Luke Williams finding a yard of space to poke the ball home past Jaaskelainen from close range.
Latics responded well. First, Wildschut penetrated behind the Iron defence but his cross was cleared as Will Grigg was ready to pounce. Max Power tried a shot from distance that flew over, then Wildschut, cutting in from the left, teed himself up but the strike was wide.
The good work finally paid off on 35 minutes as Latics patiently played their way out of defence, the ball reaching Power in the centre circle. He looped a pinpoint pass into the path of Jacobs running in from the right. He chested it down beautifully and powered home a precision finish from the edge of Daniels’ area which flew in low to the keeper’s right.
Scunthorpe’s only other really threatening moment of the first half came when Van Veen saw a shot well saved by Jaaskelainen three minutes before the break.
Latics were quick out of the blocks, claiming a penalty when David Perkins’ shot appeared to come off the arm of David Mirfin within seconds of the restart, then Wildschut drove into the box and saw his fierce effort whistle inches wide of Daniels’ far post a minute later. Grigg then cut back from a run down the left channel but his shot was over the bar.
Latics threatened again in the 57th minute, firstly when Jacobs set up Kellett inside the box on the right but his looped cross was just too high for Wildschut. The same too combined seconds later Jacobs, this time on the left wove past two defenders and Kellett narrowly failed to get a toe to his low cross.
McCann was next to try his luck from distance, after 67 minutes, latching on to the ball after Wildschut had driven at the Scunthorpe defence, but the shot was a foot over the bar.
Latics were forced to defend at times, Scunthorpe launching some dangerous set plays into the box, notably from the delivery of Williams.
Jordy Hiwula replaced Kellett after 71 minutes, Caldwell hoping for the same impact as he had at Fleetwood. He found space to shoot in the 77th minute but Mirfin somehow stretched a leg to divert it for a corner with Daniels at full stretch.
Wildschut then went on a run from inside his own half, only for the final shot to go wide. Frustration for the Latics fans packed behind Daniels’ goal.
Latics had another great chance in the 85th minute when Jason Pearce was not able to force the ball over the line after Jacobs had dribbled brilliantly down the left and crossed low across the box. More frustration.
Jaaskelainen was forced into a superb double save from Scunthorpe skipper Stephen Dawson as the home side broke away and the game entered into a tense final few minutes but then Latics broke away themselves and Jacobs’ header was straight at Daniels from Wildschut’s cross.
A draw in the end, which extends the unbeaten away run in Sky Bet League One to nine games.