ACCRINGTON Stanley suffered heartbreak on Valentine’s Day as they squandered a two-goal lead to lose at home to Scunthorpe United.
Lee Molyneux’s first goal since returning to the club and a strike from Peter Murphy had put the Reds 2-0 up at half time at the Store First Stadium, but the Reds’ home curse struck again as the visitors hit back with three goals after the interval.
It means Stanley have still somehow won only three games at the Store First Stadium this season, and missed the chance to climb as high as 15th in League Two. Instead they remain 19th ahead of this afternoon’s fixtures.
Stormy weather throughout the week did not prevent this fixture from starting, after covers were placed over the pitch to protect it from rain pre-match.
The game had been brought forward to Friday night in an attempt to boost the crowd, with reduced prices also on offer to season ticket holders of other Football League and Premier League clubs.
Uncertainty about the weather and a clash with Valentine’s Day meant that the Reds fell short of their targeted attendance of 2,000.
Among those who did make it to watch on from the stands, however, was former Stanley winger Connor Mahoney, fresh from signing his first professional contract at Blackburn Rovers.
Stanley made one change to the side that drew 0-0 at Wycombe last weekend, with Kal Naismith ruled out with a hip injury – allowing Molyneux to make his first start since returning on loan from Crewe.
On-loan Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli started in goal, only minutes after it was announced that his parent club had replaced Rene Meulensteen with Felix Magath as manager.
Scunthorpe, managed by former Burnley assistant boss Russ Wilcox, went into the game second in League Two and unbeaten in the league since losing at home to Stanley in November.
But the home side took lead in the 18th minute as George Bowerman squared for Molyneux to arrive at the far post and slide the ball expertly into the bottom corner.
Scunthorpe appealed vociferously that Bowerman had been offside, but he appeared to have received the ball from a visiting defender.
The Iron pushed forward in search of an equaliser but created precious little, and Stanley extended their advantage in the 36th minute.
Laurence Wilson clipped the ball forward from left back and Peter Murphy chased the pass into the box before firing into the corner with the aid of a slight deflection.
It was a ninth goal of the season from midfield for the club’s top scorer, a day after he had celebrated his 24th birthday.
The first half ended with an injury to the linesman, who could not even continue as fourth official – with a call going out over the public address system for a qualified referee to man the technical area.
Another downpour did not aid the pitch, while Scunthorpe made a double substitution at half time in a bid to revive their fortunes.
It took only four minutes for the Iron to pull a goal back as the ball found Sam Winnall in the area and he shot into the net.
And Scunthorpe were level before the hour mark as sub Hakeeb Adelakun drilled an angled shot into the bottom corner.
The visitors almost netted another, as Winnall’s first shot was saved by Bettinelli before his second effort went just wide.
Stanley were hanging on at that stage, and Paddy Madden headed against the crossbar from Adelakun’s right-wing cross.
The Reds came close to a late winner when Murphy, known for his last-gasp goals, saw a fierce effort turned wide by Sam Slocombe.
But it was Scunthorpe who moved in front for the first time in stoppage time, as Gary McSheffrey’s deep free kick was headed in by centre back David Mirfin.
Piero Mingoia headed just wide as Stanley sought an equaliser, but the visitors took all three points.
Stanley: Marcus Bettinelli; Nicky Hunt, Dean Winnard, Tom Aldred, Laurence Wilson; Piero Mingoia, Luke Joyce, Peter Murphy, Lee Molyneux (Will Hatfield 70); Kayode Odejayi (Danny Webber 87), George Bowerman (James Gray 62). Subs not used: Rob Atkinson, Michael Liddle, Josh Windass, Shay McCartan.
Referee: Stephen Martin.