Preston grounded by resurgent Iron
Hooper, who scored 30 goals for the Iron as they sealed promotion from League One last season, was only a substitute for Saturday's 4-0 annihilation of Crystal Palace but made the most of his surprise recall to score twice and create another for Grant McCann as North End's 10-game unbeaten run stretching back to last season was arrested. As impressive as Hooper was, he was just one of a number of Scunthorpe's players who combined to produce a stunning display of passing football that suggested Nigel Adkins' side may well defy the odds to retain their Championship status this season. While Preston manager Alan Irvine may not press the panic button after a defeat that was given some respectability by Jon Parkin's consolation, he will surely be alarmed at the display of his defence which was weakened by the loss of Sean St Ledger to Middlesbrough earlier in the day. Irvine opted to relegate Neil Mellor to the bench despite his goal in Saturday's 2-0 win over Swansea and it was his replacement that had the first genuine chance to open the scoring. Stephen Elliott was also on target against the Swans after coming on for Mellor and should have made it two goals in two games with just seven minutes gone as he found himself one-on-one with Joe Murphy after a through-ball from Chris Sedgwick, only to fail to keep the ball from Murphy's grasp as he tried to round him. Elliott was made to pay for his miss too as the Iron opened the scoring 12 minutes in through McCann. The midfielder also missed the win at Palace but quickly vindicated his recall by tapping home his first of the season from close range after Hooper played him in after robbing Liam Chilvers of possession. Scunthorpe were soon in complete control and could have been further ahead by the midway point of the half were it not for Andy Lonergan producing a fingertip save to turn away Michael O'Connor's fizzing free-kick. Scunthorpe's approach play was sublime at times and they deservedly added a second three minutes before the break as Hooper grabbed his fourth goal of the season. He had nearly scored just a minute prior to the goal when his shot was cleared off the line by Sedgwick after a fine build-up involving O'Connor and Paul Hayes, but did get his reward when he managed to bundle an effort over Lonergan as the interval approached. Sedgwick finally got Preston going in attack after the break with a drive that was deflected narrowly wide but it soon mattered little to the visitors as Hooper added a third on 53 minutes. The outstanding O'Connor was again involved, seizing on a loose ball in the middle of the field before sending Hooper racing beyond the Preston defence from where he produced a clinical finish into the bottom corner, leaving Lonergan with no chance. Preston did manage to pull a goal back just before the hour mark, though, with Parkin thundering home from close range after Scunthorpe failed to clear a corner. But the Iron continued to create chances and Hooper should have had a hat-trick when he was clean through on Lonergan's goal, only to push the ball too far ahead of him.
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