"Any old iron"
(Song from years gone by, covered memorably by Peter Sellers)
With our interest in all knock-out competitions having vanished, it’s now time (to coin a phrase) to “concentrate on the league” - Dean Keates has to find a formula for getting some points on the board before the relegation zone risk becomes a reality. To this end we welcome Stuart McCall’s Scunthorpe United outfit, in the fervent hope that we can stop their current winning form. If this fixture had been scheduled for a couple of weeks ago we might have been more confident, as the Iron were wallowing in the relegation zone, but 3 straight wins have lifted them 6 places in the table to a position where they’re only 2 points behind us. Danger man with 10 goals so far this season is Lee Novak, but other players have chipped in to the extent that Scunthorpe have actually scored 6 more League One goals than we have … mind you they’ve also conceded 11 more than us, so this game is very unlikely to finish 0-0. Current form for the Iron:-
15 Dec Doncaster Rovers (A) Lost 3-0
22 Dec Bradford City (A) Lost 2-0
26 Dec Luton Town (H) Lost 0-2
29 Dec Wycombe Wanderers (H) Won 1-0
1 Jan Peterborough Utd (A) Won 0-2
5 Jan Coventry City (H) Won 2-1
That win at Peterborough would be remarkable enough in itself, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that Scunthorpe took the field with only 5 substitutes … and didn’t use any of them!!
Dean Keates will be well aware that we haven’t kept a clean sheet in a League One game since 17th November (Fleetwood Town), and it would seem that some of this excessive leakage can be attributed to basic defensive errors … opposition teams have realised that (a) it’s fairly simple to launch crosses into our penalty area, and (b) there’s every chance of a free header/shot when the ball gets there. It’s all very well for Andy Cook to bust a gut in scoring or laying off (and hasn’t he done well!) but it means nothing when we are seemingly allowing opposing sides “shots in” against a young goalkeeper whose confidence may be understandably low.
It’s not the purpose of this preview to get into “the blame game”, and our regular defenders are not expected to be perfect (this is Walsall, not Bayern Munich) … but it is screamingly obvious that attention has to be paid to ensuring that the rot is stopped (or at least stemmed) if we are to have a chance of getting back up the League One table. Perhaps our early season success in occupying a play-off spot has led to some complacency - who knows? It’s motivation time…
Prediction? Ever the optimist, we have to witness a Walsall team turning up soon, and this Saturday could well be the day - let’s hope for a 2-1 home win, with Cook (of course) and Edwards scoring.