With Scunthorpe United in town this weekend in a massive game for the Cobblers, I caught up with Ross Gibson from the popular Scunthorpe United Blog ‘Any Old Iron’ to get his thoughts on his side’s form and their return to League Two.
Scunthorpe finished just three points from League One safety last season and won a dramatic game against Swindon Town 3-1 on the final day only to hear that Colchester United had beaten Carlisle United to render themselves uncatchable by the Iron. At the prospect of a first campaign in the basement division in eight years, Ross gives his thoughts on how the squad looks now after a summer of ins and outs:
“We had a massive clear out after relegation with plenty of the squad from Knill’s era seeing the exit door,” he says, “I won’t lie this was needed as quite a few had no intention of putting in 100% for the Iron week-in-week-out and were on League 1 wages anyway. Of the departed I think I was most upset to see Mark Duffy leave who went to Doncaster for a fee. He was on his day probably the best winger in League 1 and this showed as he collected 15 assists in the league, the second highest ratio behind Donny’s David Cotterill.”
“We have made some decent signings though and suitable replacements for those who left. Once again I would say we are missing Duffy’s assists the most, but, our new non-league star Terry Hawkridge could come good and sort that side of things out for us. He’s certainly looked promising so far this season!!
“I would say watch out for our young striker Sam Winnall. We signed him after his release from Wolves and so far in the league he has 3 goals from the first 5 games. He can head the ball well for a small lad and will make dangerous runs throughout the match so if you guys have 2 slow central defenders I’d say he will most likely bag.”
“Big Chris is a handful up top and looked really good at Wimbledon, however he may miss the match through injury sadly.”
“Our Dutch winger Esajas could have his first league start of the season after recovering from a hamstring injury. All I’ll say is for your sake if he does play you’d better close him down as he’ll shoot from anywhere! He got a hat-trick in Pre season and 2 were from free kicks 30 yards out!!”
Brian Laws returned to Glanford Park after a six year absence last October, replacing Alan Knill and Ross says that things may be completely different had he been in place from the start of the season.
“It’s a strange thing as I am personally a strong believer that had Lawsy been in charge for the whole of our League 1 campaign we’d still be in that division. We had a horrible start under ‘squirrel killer’ Alan Knill which is what killed us in the end. We went down by 3 points and whilst Knill was in charge at the start of the season we took only 10 points from 15 games. So in that sense he did okay last season and the form we had under his helm would have seen us sit in mid table had he started from the off.”
“We are expected to be in a promotion push come May and so far things haven’t gone too well this season thus far. On a couple of occasions Lawsy’s tactics have cost us dearly already and if he can’t get us pushing towards the play offs come Christmas I’d expect our new chairman to be giving him the axe.”
It’s been a mixed start to the season for the Iron with three draws from their opening five games including last weekend’s point against Newport County with their only victory coming on the opening day against newly promoted Mansfield Town. But there are signs that things are coming together.
“The key positives are defensively we’ve looked pretty good,” Ross says, “Take out the Wimbledon match, which I’m afraid I still don’t like to talk about, we have kept clean sheets in 2 of our league games and the 2 cup games so far against higher opposition (Barnsley & Sheffield United). Going forward we’ve looked OKAY but (Sam) Winnall is having to do a lot of the scoring himself so far. I want to see the midfielders chipping in with goals a bit more but it’s a new squad so it will take time to gel!”
As for ambitions for the season, Ross sees stability as a key aim to stop a slide of relegations. He says,
“I want to see us sneak into the playoffs, however, I’d also be happy with mid table simply because we need to stop the rot we are in. 2 relegation’s in 3 years has seen us fall from beating QPR 3-1 at home to losing 3-2 away at AFC Wimbledon. This first year back in League 2 is massive as we cannot ‘do a Grimsby’ and fall into non-league. I’d take mid table as a good season, anything higher (which our current squad is more than capable of doing) is a fantastic season for us.”
And finally, for the trip to Sixfields, a prediction from the Iron expert?
“I was at the 4-4 match a few years back when we were 4-1 up. Heart breaking stuff for us! I think this match has 1-1 written all over it. You look pretty solid at home so a point would be a positive for us, but looking at the table anything less than a win for you is unacceptable.”
Scunthorpe United Links:
Official Website: http://www.scunthorpe-united.co.uk/
Local News section: http://www.thisisscunthorpe.co.uk/scunthorpeunited