LEAVES GULLS ON CANVAS
THE FAT Lady was clearing her throat when Dale Tonge’s missed penalty condemned Torquay to yet another defeat – but boss Chris Hargreaves is adamant she has not sung yet.
Scunthorpe clinched victory in a tale of two penalties – Sam Winnall consummately notching his for a 22nd goal of a mightily impressive season – while Tonge watched on in horror as Sam Slocombe kept his out.
The Iron are coasting towards promotion after they stretched their record-breaking unbeaten run to 25 games to maintain their seven-point cushion on fourth-placed Fleetwood.
Whereas the Gulls are ten points from safety – not to mention a woeful goal difference – with five games to play.
But a defiant Hargreaves is eyeing five wins and what would be one of the most unlikely escape acts in Football League history.
He said: “We will battle all the way. We need five wins from the last five games and we still believe we can do it.
“I thought we were excellent in the first half and were far the better team. We need to re-produce that type of performance.
“But you have to score when you are on top and sometimes you don’t get the breaks when you are at the bottom. We missed a penalty and in the second half they changed their shape because they couldn’t handle what we were doing.
“So I am very pleased with a lot of the game but very disappointed with the result.”
Torquay asked all the questions in the opening half an hour but were unable to find a crack in Scunthorpe’s well-drilled rearguard.
Karl Hawley was first to Courtney Cameron’s cross but his stooping header was pushed away by Slocombe.
The Iron had not even tested Gulls keeper Martin Rice when they were awarded a penalty on the half-hour mark. Krystian Pearce lunged in on Matthew Sparrow and referee Michael Bull had little choice but to point to the spot. Rice guessed the right way but wasn’t able to get anything on Winnall’s well-dispatched penalty.
Torquay were presented with a glorious chance to level on half-time when Winnall went from hero to villain after wrestling Pearce to the floor but Tonge’s spot-kick was saved by Slocombe and Shaquile Coulthirst, otherwise impressive couldn’t convert the rebound.
After the break Torquay substitute Jayden Stockley brought a smart onehanded save out of Slocombe with a 25-yard free-kick.
But the Gulls’ misery was complete in stoppage time after Stockley received a straight red card for flooring David Mirfin with a flailing elbow.
Scunthorpe boss Russ Wilcox conceded that the Iron weren’t at their best, but he could afford himself a smile with League One edging ever closer.
“It wasn’t the best but at this stage of the season it is about getting results,” he said.
“It came down to a couple of key moments – we scored our penalty and Sam makes another amazing save from theirs.
“This is a massive three points because teams around us picked up points as well. Torquay had to gamble and we had to dig in really deep and show different qualities to our game.
“The determination, togetherness and putting our bodies on the line meant it was a gritty, determined away performance. I am so proud.”
HIGH FIVE: Scunthorpe players celebrate Sam Winnall’s winner
STAR MAN SHAQU