(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 StuartMcCall’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 hedone 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.
This is a massive game. Win and the table may look as if all of these worries are a little reactionary. Lose and we are slap bang in the middle of the scrap that has been predicted for weeks. I back us. Scunthorpe are a tough League One team but so are we. You don’t hang around the middle of this table for as long as we have without being a quintessential League One club.
Regarding the defence I think there are two options here. 3 at the back. A proper 3 at the back not the dog rough version we started with against Cov where Martin was half a centre back half a defensive mid. That would mean Guthrie Martin and Johnson for me with Leahy and Devlin wing backs.
Or 4 at the back with a slight change in personnel. If we do that I’d like to see Martin go out to right back, Johnson come into the middle and give that a go. Martin doesn’t look strong enough in the air to be a centre half in this league and he must be a better basic defender than Devlin.
Feel for Roberts to be honest. He’s starting to remind me of a shell shocked squadie simply because of the number of shots he’s faced with every weekend. No wonder he’s on a lack of form, he’s probably a nervous wreck.
Beat me to it, If it’s Bristol City or Scunthorpe at home it’s always 1-4, can’t see any change this Saturday, our squad are very low on confidence, theirs sky high.
Would love a win to ease us away from the drop zone, but then again I thought we would beat Bolton, ridiculous notion.
Always amazes me that we are second-best to a club like Scunthorpe: they are an unglamorous side with a sh!t ground () who have crowds lower than us… yet consistently sign better players than us. Why’s this? Perhaps they don’t have a “ saviour” who takes nearly half-a-million quid out of their club every season!