PHOTOS: Scunthorpe 0, Burnley FC 0
Stan Ternent laid the building blocks for a decade, which saw Burnley establish themselves in the Championship, and end the noughties in the Premier League.
And while this game was instantly forgettable, you wonder whether a man Ternent tried to sign at the start of the Millennium – a talented young centre -back from Bournemouth called Eddie Howe – will have laid his own building block in North Lincolnshire.
After he sat in the stand last Saturday, ahead of agreeing to become Burnley manager, Howe witnessed the Clarets keep a first clean sheet in 15 games.
And as he took the reins against the Iron, he presided over a first shut out on the road since the goal-less draw at Crystal Palace in September – and successive clean sheets for the first time since that result at Selhurst Park led to four on the spin.
On an ultimately frustrating night, Howe couldn’t quite become the first Burnley boss to win his first game in charge, since Ternent’s men beat Bristol Rovers in August 1998.
But the 90 minutes showed him some of the quality the squad possesses, and also some of the deficiencies that need to be addressed if the Clarets are to climb back into the top flight.
Howe made a positive team selection, going for Ross Wallace, in place of top scorer Chris Iwelumo, to join Jay Rodriguez and Chris Eagles in a more mobile, fluid front three.
And in bringing Dean Marney in for Graham Alexander – hoping to play at the club where he started his career for only the second time since leaving in 1995 – he showed he has no room for sentimentality.
Burnley, as is often noted, are at their best when they press high up the pitch – which they didn’t do often enough for me under the previous manager.
Howe sent his players out to deny the home back four time and space on the ball, and this, as well as the bog-like pitch, meant Scunthorpe didn’t play out from the back, opting instead to turn around Burnley early with punts over the top for the pace of Jonathan Forte.
That was something the Clarets had to contend with, and when they could get the ball out of the sky, they were the side trying to play football, although the surface somewhat took the zip out of their passing.
Both Burnley full-backs put crosses in the box within the opening 30 seconds – a pleasing sight.
But with an agricultural Iron side thumping the ball long at every opportunity, Wade Elliott had to be alert to head clear Sam Togwell’s flick from under his own bar, before skipper Clarke Carlisle perfectly-timed a critical challenge on Forte, who would have broken clear.
The Clarets had to stand tall in the first period, earning the right to play their football.
But Eagles had a great chance, after Rodriguez dummied a Wallace corner, only to fire over in a bobbly penalty area.
Lee Grant made a comfortable save from Martin Woolford after a positive break from Forte, while Danny Fox was booked for hauling down debutant Mark Duffy as the hosts put Burnley under pressure.
The Clarets had a couple of half-chances, with Carlisle heading wide of the near post from an Eagles corner, while Rodriguez headed over from Elliott’s cross, but they went in in little trouble, while feeling they could earn a second away win of the season.
Andre Bikey came on for Carlisle at the break – who hurt his knee in an earlier challenge – but the game followed a similar pattern, with Scunthorpe held at arm’s length, while the Clarets looked for the guile to find a way through.
They grew into the game, and penned their hosts in, but didn’t really test Josh Lillis as much as they would have liked.
Michael Duff’s clearance was taken down expertly by Rodriguez, who shot wide off balance and under pressure, before Iwelumo, on for Wallace just after the hour, hit the angle from an Eagles centre.
Eagles himself looked to whip a left-foot shot inside the far corner, forcing a save, while Lillis made the save of the game to deny Iwelumo from close range, after a glorous pass from Jack Cork, the outstanding player on show.
Burnley couldn’t force a much-needed winner, however, and while they have a new-found defensive solidity, they have failed to score in successive games for the first time this season.
The squad look in need of fresh faces.
And you could argue Howe needs to bolster each and every department of the side, who are currently lacking that physical presence in midfield, a spark of creativity, and a different option up front.
To that end, Martin Paterson and Chris McCann can’t return soon enough.
But this may be enough evidence for Howe to move into the transfer market, and tweak things to keep a play-off challenge alive.