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The Reds’ ruthlessness proved the difference in a Carling Cup cracker, as the holders cruised into the fourth round with a five-star finishing lesson at Scunthorpe.
The Iron deservedly scored first through Josh Wright but were then put to the sword by Michael Owen’s double, a first goal for Chris Smalling and memorable efforts from midfielders Darron Gibson and Ji-sung Park. Not that it was all one-way traffic from the moment Gibson equalised - Tomasz Kuszczak was kept busy throughout, making countless saves before he unluckily conceded a deflected second goal, for Martyn Woolford, in injury time.
It was again a case of another competition, another team for the Reds with every player from Sunday’s win over Liverpool rested. Still there were nine senior internationals in the eleven – plenty of quality to open a new quest for silverware and to excite the sell-out 9,000-plus crowd at Scunthorpe’s Glanford Park. But the home fans were off their seats for one of their own players inside the first thirty seconds when striker Jonathan Forte forced his way into the area, albeit without testing Kuszczak. The Reds keeper’s first real save of note came when he parried a ferocious first-time strike from left-back Eddie Nolan – on loan from Darren Ferguson’s Preston North End.
While another early effort on target from midfielder Woolford found the palms of the Pole, Kusczak was comfortably beaten by Scunthorpe’s stunning opener in the 19th minute. Woolford was the architect, ferrying the ball across the edge of the area before laying it off for Wright to fire a scorching drive into the top left-hand corner.
The home crowd raucously celebrated their fairytale moment – Wright’s first goal for the club - but fears of a Southend repeat for the away fans were swiftly dispelled, with Darron Gibson notching a glorious