Scunthorpe 1 City 1

CLAYTON Donaldson offered a suitably conciliatory tone to the social media masses.

“Yes I do struggle sometimes but I never quit,” he wrote. “That’s my secret, 600 and counting.”

It is some milestone for the Manningham-born striker to hit 600 appearances in a career spanning 17 years.

But Saturday won’t be remembered for Donaldson reaching a notable personal landmark.

It was about that header; that miss.

Donaldson’s running in the channels, his willingness to chase any cause and throw himself in the mix has quickly endeared him to the City faithful.

But there is an elephant in the room with the growing number of scoring chances that are going to waste.

Gary Bowyer pointed out that he could have had a hat-trick in City’s last defeat at Cheltenham. Two certainly were the type of opportunities that any striker would expect to gobble up.

And it happened again at Glanford Park where Donaldson once more came off empty-handed when he should have been celebrating at least once.

There is no blame attached to the second-half flick header that was cleared off the line by well-placed Scunthorpe sub Lee Novak.

It was all about the one just before half-time from a Connor Wood cross that was screaming the words “bury me”. Instead, from a handful of yards out, Donaldson’s free header bounced down and wide of the post.

From their distant viewpoint at the other end, the 1,577 travelling fans were already kicking off the celebrations. Equally, the angle from the main stand indicated the ball was nestling in the corner of the net.

But as keeper Rory Watson went to retrieve it from the advertising hoardings, reality kicked in.

Scunthorpe had been let off the hook in a moment that encapsulated City’s afternoon.

Reading down the home team sheet points to a club in a false position as Bowyer had warned.

Looking at the names on display and they don’t fit with a side who cannot buy a win. But then much the same was said about the Bantams for pretty much the whole of last season.

Scunthorpe’s run of just one win since Stuart McCall’s sacking in March goes on. They have managed one solitary clean sheet since Good Friday.

And down to 10 men from the 19th minute, they were surely there for the taking.

The failure to do so, while not Walsall-esque on a par with the black afternoon in the black country that did for David Hopkin, will gnaw away at the Bantams during the long wait for their next outing.

This is the start of three clear weeks before games; an unknown luxury for Bowyer and his coaching staff to work on the training ground unhindered by midweek action.

But the build-up for Swindon next Saturday will feel like a drag on the back of the one that got away.

City should have been luxuriating in the glow of a fourth win in five and a place firmly bedded in League Two’s leading pack two points off the top.

As it is, leaders Exeter tripping up at home to Grimsby reduced the gap to the Bantams to four – a spread covering eight positions in a concertinaed table.

Callum Cooke tried to apply a positive spin by suggesting that the draw could prove a “decent point come April/May time”. It certainly doesn’t feel it come the end of September.

Saturday did at least prove this comeback trick that City have mastered is proving no flash in the pan.

That’s now seven points this month gleaned after conceding first – an embarrassment of riches when last season produced just a single draw at Burton from a losing position.

But along with this new-found team spirit and conviction remains a frustrating failure to make it count when on top.

Donaldson’s miss summed that up. A comeback goal at that point would have changed the complexion of the game with the second half to come.

City still clawed their way back 11 minutes after the restart with the striker having a presence in Paudie O’Connor’s scruffy finish.

But Scunthorpe’s resolve stiffened as they camped behind the ball and parked the bus in a manner usually seen from opponents at Valley Parade not on their own patch.

That had been their approach since Matty Lund was rightly dismissed for a reckless lunge on Matty Palmer.

At that stage, the Iron had a precious lead to protect given them by new boy Jamie Ward.

The Northern Ireland international, wearing 13, struck in the 13th minute from the penalty spot after Kelvin Mellor’s left arm had blocked his initial shot.

It looked a harsh call against the City right back from referee Rob Lewis, whose decision-making was questioned by both teams throughout.

City, though, know the drill these days when they fall behind – a puzzle that appeared to get far easier to solve when former loanee Lund was sent packing six minutes later.

Scunthorpe slipped in to backs-to-the-wall mode where a familiar face excelled.

Rory McArdle had two horror shows against his former club last season. McCall even hooked him at half-time at Valley Parade.

But Saturday was a return to the vintage McArdle, throwing his head in the way of every ball in the box, whatever the trajectory, and his body in the vicinity of any threat on goal.

The Scunthorpe skipper led the resistance as City, who had seen James Vaughan’s volley rap the inside of the post just before the penalty, hammered away against a brick wall.

The 73 per cent possession ratio illustrated the visiting dominance of the ball – a grip that they could not convert into more than one meaningful response.

Donaldson was denied by an alert tip round the post from Watson before handing the hosts a huge boost going into half-time with that awful miss.

The second half was played largely in Scunthorpe territory, although there was one scare when Ryan Colclough slipped away and City were spared going two down as Ward got his feet tangled up from the winger’s inviting cross.

City’s equaliser came from what looked to be one of Harry Pritchard’s poorer corners.

He scuffed it low towards the box where it was returned to him by the alert Anthony O’Connor. Pritchard’s second cross from a better angle searched for Donaldson and Paudie O’Connor in the mix, where the Irishman got the decisive prod past Watson.