BEANPOLE striker John McAliskey sent the McAlpine crazy on a day jubilant Peter Jackson unwittingly gave a nickname to his promotion chasing young squad.

Jacko's Jewels came from behind to win in sensational style and hold their promotion placing with a masterfully-taken headed double from McAliskey in the final five minutes of his full League debut.

Never mind that Town finished with only nine men following the dismissals of Efe Sodje and Danny Schofield in a second half which seemed destined for so long to hold Scunthorpe's League salvation.

Never mind that a fourth-minute lead provided by David Mirfin lasted only three minutes as the haunted Sodje scored an own goal.

Never mind that referee Lee Probert awarded the visitors an extremely harsh penalty against Sodje on 40 minutes which led to Steve MacLean putting Town behind after Paul Rachubka had saved his spot-kick.

Never mind that for the middle hour of the game - culminating in Sodje's dismissal to complete a nightmare afternoon for the big Nigerial defender - Jackson's new formation just didn't click and the spectre of Torquay loomed large in the play-off picture.

Never mind all that ... because the outcome was magical!

And just about as much heart pounding excitement as Jackson could take.

"When Macca stuck his head on that ball for the winner, I'll never forget it as long as I live," said Jackson, who handed McAliskey and Gary Harkins full debuts in the absence of suspended duo Andy Booth and Pawel Abbott.

"Things like that don't happen too often and the scenes of absolute mayhem in the stadium were just unbelievable.

"People talk about effort and a never say die attitude, but the desire of my lads to just keep going and going - even though we didn't play particularly well for long spells - was outstanding.

"They are my jewels, and they certainly sparkled in that last five minutes!

"I was so pleased for Macca because he was really nervous before the game, being a local lad and wanting to do well, and he came through with flying colours.

"I'm really proud of him, of all the young players - Mirfin was simply tremendous - and of the entire squad because they deserved the win, but I must say a huge `thank you' to our 11,000-plus fans. It wasn't an easy game and it didn't look like it was going to turn out well - but when we needed them, the fans were there for us.

"They knew what was at stake, got right behind the lads, the atmosphere was excellent and I'll never forget that or all our bench being right behind me jumping around on the edge of the pitch!"

In 10 years at the McAlpine, I don't think a Town crowd have ever erupted with such fervour.

With six minutes to go, Town down to 10 men and everyone aware that Torquay were beating leaders Doncaster, it looked as though Jackson's side would slip into the play-off places with successive defeats for the first time in five months.

The Kilner Bank choristers were in no mood to give in, however, and neither was McAliskey, who touched a Tony Carss backheel into the path of battling Jon Worthington on the righthand side.

He supplied an excellent cross and McAliskey headed Town level at 2-2 with only five minutes to go.

At that stage, a point would have been a Godsend, but Town were roared every inch of the way towards glory and felt Mirfin should have had a penalty when his shot was blocked by Cliff Byrne's hand.

The decider came in the very last minute and from another burst by the excellent Holdsworth.

This time Schofield was powering on the overlap and when defenders covered too deep, he pulled the cross back for McAliskey to complete the most incredible full debut since Duncan Shearer grabbed a hat trick at Barnsley when McAliskey was just one year old.

The teenage striker was booked for his celebration, as was Schofield for the second time and he joined Sodje and coach Terry Yorath - red carded for comments made to the referee during half time - in the dressing rooms.

Sodje, who walked for dissent at the penalty and hacking down Terry Barwick, and Schofield will be absent when Town play their final McAlpine match against Mansfield in a fortnight.

That could be some party if Town manage to build on this thriller.


Paul Rachubka Brilliant save from MacLean's penalty and a shame he couldn't block the rebound. Did well under pressure Rating: 7/10

Andy Holdsworth Great run to help set up the deciding goal for Town and worked his socks off. Gets better and better by the game. Rating: 8/10

Anthony Lloyd Came to life when club captain Rob Edwards came on as a sub on the left wing. Never gave in. Real grafter Rating: 7/10

David Mirfin Tremendous display by the youngest man in the team. Scored, made a goalline clearance and tackled everything Rating: 9/10

Efe Sodje Not a day he will care to remember with an own goal and a second sending off of the season. He'll be back Rating: 3/10

Steve Yates Had his work cut out trying to contain MacLean but made one excellent clearance early on. Fought hard Rating: 7/10

Gary Harkins Worked hard but struggled to make an impact on his Football League debut and went off after an hour Rating: 6/10

Jon Worthington Deserved his standing ovation when taken off near the end. Great cross for the equaliser and an excellent display Rating: 8/10

Tony Carss Tireless show as Town eventually got a grip. His skills helped create the pressure which forced Scunny to crack Rating: 7/10

Danny Schofield Magical cross for the winner. Got a second yellow card for launching himself in the crowd to celebrate it. Rating: 7/10

John McAliskey No-one present will ever forget his full debut and the late double which raised the roof in a delirious McAlpine Rating: 10/10

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Man of the Match: John McAliskey

Maximum marks for the teenager on his full debut not just because of the goals, which were brilliantly taken, but for his all-round workrate and willingness. Magic

The introduction of Rob Edwards gave Town more spark. It was much needed as Sodje received his marching orders soon afterwards. Edwards did really well and the team responded

Subs used: Town: Edwards for Harkins 60, Scott for Worthington 90. United: Kilford for Barwick 72.

Subs not used: Town: Senior, Young, Hughes. United: Hayes, Ridley, Taylor, Calvo-Garcia.

Scorers: Town: Mirfin 4, McAliskey 85 & 90. United: Sodje o.g 7, MacLean 41

Referee: Lee Probert (Gloucester)

Dismisals: Town: Sodje, Schofield.

Bookings: United: MacLean, Barwick

Shots on target: Town 6, United 4.

Corners: Town 9, United 4.

Caught offside: Town 2, United 4.

Free-kicks awarded: Town 21, United 14.

Attendance: 12,108 (Away: 1,022)