WALSALL 1-4 SCUNTHORPEJosh Morris scored a hat-trick as league leaders Scunthorpe comprehensively outclassed below-par Walsall on a bitterly disappointing night at the Banks’s Stadium.
Two goals in as many minutes from Morris – the first a penalty – put the Iron 2-0 ahead inside a quarter of an hour.
Erhun Oztumer’s super solo strike gave the Saddlers hope, but further goals from Neal Bishop and Morris earned Graham Alexander’s table toppers a thoroughly-deserved win.
Scunthorpe started like a train and almost took the lead after just 16 seconds, Duane Holmes lashing wide when clean through after pouncing on Kevin Toner’s under-hit back pass.
The Iron continued to show their attacking intent, with Duane Holmes having a powerful near-post drive beaten away by in-form Saddlers stopper Neil Etheridge.
And Graham Alexander’s side scored the goal they had been threatening on 11 minutes, when Morris buried a penalty into the top right-hand corner after Kinsella had handled from a corner.
Scunthorpe doubled their lead two minutes later, Morris stabbing home his second of the night – and ninth of the season – after Etheridge could only parry Tom Hopper’s initial effort.
Walsall – unbeaten in three heading into the match – simply hadn’t got going.
Kieron Morris saw a 20-yard drive held by Iron keeper Luke Daniels, while Simeon Jackson had a shot blocked from a Jason McCarthy cut-back, but the threat was minimal.
The Saddlers badly needed some inspiration, and on the stroke of half-time they got it.
Erhun Oztumer wriggled away from Richie Smallwood on the edge of the box and arrowed an accurate left-footed strike into the bottom corner for his fourth goal of the season.
Walsall were now right back in it and they very nearly equalised moments later, as Oztumer squared to Jackson, who spun his marker but Daniels blocked his shot with his legs.
Half-time: Walsall 1-2 Scunthorpe
But the Iron’s two-goal lead was restored within two minutes of the resumption, Bishop drilling a right-footed effort beyond Etheridge after some sloppy Walsall defending.
Goal-hungry Scunthorpe, who were looking every bit promotion material, went in search of more goals.
Ex-Saddler Sam Mantom had a firm strike spilled by Etheridge, who then kept out Tom Hopper’s near-post header from substitute Stephen Dawson’s dinked cross.
David Mirfin should then have done better with a free header from Morris’ corner with ten minutes remaining, as Scunthorpe continued to outplay their hosts.
The visitors’ fourth goal duly arrived on 82 minutes, when Morris curled a left-footed shot into the top corner to complete his treble, after good work from Hopper and Mantom.
Franck Moussa had the chance to reduce the arrears when he raced through on goal but Daniels produced a fine finger-tip stop.
Scunthorpe almost grabbed a fifth goal in the dying stages, as Kevin van Veen’s delicate chip clipped the top of the bar.
Walsall had the ball in the net in added time, Amadou Bakayoko bundling home from close range after Andreas Makris had rattled the bar, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
Full-time: Walsall 1-4 Scunthorpe
Team: Etheridge, Kinsella, Toner, O’Connor, McCarthy, Chambers, Osbourne (Bakayoko 52'), Morris (Makris 73'), Cuvelier (Moussa 52'), Oztumer, Jackson.
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Dobson, Preston, Kouhyar.
Attendance: 3,970 (209 Scunthorpe supporters).