Ten men earn another big point

Diamond...first Cobblers goal

Diamond…first Cobblers goal

Scunthorpe United 1-1 Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, March 8th 2014

Before this game I would have absolutely jumped for joy at a point so considering the circumstances of the afternoon involving the Cobblers falling a goal and a man behind it’s fair to say we’ve come through another round of fixtures suitably happy with ourselves. The incredible run of bad luck, though, continues to haunt Town’s escape bid with once again results elsewhere going against us. Being two points further back from safety after a fantastic performance and result like this is deflating but what we are faced with is a monster of a game on Tuesday night away at Exeter City who grabbed a late, late equaliser today to stay six clear of us.

The fact that we visit St. James Park in a few days and also have a game in hand won’t have gone unnoticed in Devon and the Grecians will be nervously looking over their shoulder ahead of the midweek visit from the Cobblers.

This was another game to highlight the huge strides made in the last couple of months under Chris Wilder – before his reign we would have likely folded having gone a goal down and while the red card for Ricky Ravenhill brought back terrible memories of those early run of dismissals in the first couple of months of the season, the battle back for a point with ten men echoed some of the better moments of the last few years.

Scunthorpe were looking to equal a club record unbeaten run which did indeed extend to nineteen games but their promotion and championship ambitions once again took a minor knock with a third straight draw. It looked to be in the bag for them when a contested Niall Canavan headed goal was allowed despite claims by the Cobblers that Matt Duke had been fouled and shortly after when Ravenhill was shown a second yellow card.

But this is a newly inspired Town side and when Darren Carter’s free kick was headed in by Zander Diamond there was something to cling on to once again. Diamond is becoming as important to the side as anyone and his influence at either end of the pitch is arguably filling the gap left by Kelvin Langmead’s season long injury. At last we’ve found that lost leader and must pray that it’s now not come too late.

Whatever happens from here we’re still showing that spirit that we’ve craved all season and hanging on at Glanford Park with ten men is a massive achievement that, despite results elsewhere, should breathe even more life into the players trusted to get us out of the bottom two.

With Torquay seemingly slipping away beneath us it’s likely that we’ll need to catch only one of the sides above us and with just six point separating Accrington in 22nd and York in 9th there’s plenty to shoot at. The first of those is Exeter on Tuesday night and following that Mansfield at home on Saturday is another six pointer. These are the games that will define the end of the season – but points at those chasing promotion certainly help!

Scunthorpe United v Northampton Town: Match Preview

glanford park

Scunthorpe United v Northampton Town

League Two

Saturday, March 8th 2014

If the Cobblers are going to take their recent upturn in results from Sixfields to the road then they’ll have to produce one hell of a performance on Saturday afternoon. Hosts Scunthorpe United are eighteen games unbeaten and in a group of sides vying for top spot and promotion from League Two. Chris Wilder will need his team to be at their very, very best if they’re to keep up a run that’s taken them off the bottom and to within four points of safety.

Scunthorpe’s long run without defeat came under threat last weekend with Newport County taking the lead against them at Rodney Parade but goals from Paddy Madden and David Syers turned it around. County grabbed a point late on through Chris Zebroski but it still represented a decent return for Russ Wilcox’s men.

Wilcox himself is, of course, a former Cobbler having played over 100 times for the club between 1986 and 1990 and will be hoping to keep up the outstanding form he’s brought to the side since replacing Brian Laws as boss back in November. Wilcox is yet to suffer a loss as manager and won’t want to lose that record against his old employers.

Heading up Scunny’s attack is prolific front man Sam Winnall who has scored eighteen goals this season and is the league’s leading marksman with Wilcox challenging him this week to make it to thirty by the end of the campaign.

For the Cobblers, after seven points from three home games it’s a huge test to get back on the road and to try and get something from Glanford Park. The odds are well and truly against us but with some renewed spirit in the camp you just never know…

Team News…

Scunthorpe winger Gary McSheffrey is still a doubt ahead of the game with a back problem which kept him to a place on the bench for last weekend’s draw at Newport County. The hosts will also still be without Andy Welsh who has suffered a setback in his attempts to return from an Achilles injury. Deon Burton is the only other casualty as he misses out again with a calf problem.

The Cobblers will again wait on the fitness of Joe Widdowson but with Gregor Robertson putting in a couple of good shifts at left back recently there’s no guarantee of the left back getting straight back into the side on his return. Danny Emerton and Antonio German both left Sixfields this week so there could be a push back up the pecking order for youngster Ivan Toney with Chris Wilder hinting at more of a role for the striker this week.

Previous Six Meetings…

07/09/13: Cobblers 1-1 Scunthorpe (League Two)

After a poor start to this season, the Cobblers held Scunthorpe to a draw in early September to halt a run of four straight defeats in all competitions. Niall Canavan put the visitors in front mid-way through the second half but Clive Platt equalised with a rare goal with twelve minutes to go.

21/04/09: Cobblers 3-3 Scunthorpe (League One)

Jason Crowe put the Cobblers in front late in the first half but before the break Liam Trotter grabbed an equaliser for the visitors. Grant McCann’s spot kick had the Iron in front but Ikechi Anya levelled the game again on the hour mark. Matt Sparrow looked to have won it for his side but the Cobblers again pulled it back when Mark Hughes headed in a Danny Jackman corner to keep League One survival hopes alive.

13/12/08: Scunthorpe 4-4 Cobblers (League One)

In one of our most dramatic games in recent memory, Scunthorpe looked to be on the way to an easy win when they moved into a 4-1 lead thanks to braces from Ben May and Gary Hooper with Scott McGleish’s strike seemingly only a consolation when he scored in the midst of that pummelling. But Giles Coke made it 4-2 before Danny Jackman gave us real hope just before the hour mark. Jackman then completed an astonishing comeback when Jackman scored direct from a corner with five minutes to go!

09/04/07: Cobblers 2-1 Scunthorpe (League One)

A memorable Easter Monday saw hundreds of Cobblers fans march from Northampton Guildhall to Sixfields in protest of the council’s delays of the stadium redevelopment before the game. Scunthorpe went into the game knowing that a win would earn them promotion from League One but Alex Pearce, on loan from Reading, converted David Hunt’s corner to put us in front. Billy Sharp equalised mid-way through the second half but deep, deep into stoppage time came a memorable Sixfields moment as Jordan Robertson’s cross was fired in at the back post by Bradley Johnson to earn three points towards League One safety. Johnson was then sent off for his celebrations but the majority of Sixfields weren’t too fussed!

18/11/06: Scunthorpe 1-0 Cobblers (League One)

A much calmer meeting earlier that season saw the Iron take all three points thanks to an Andy Crosby penalty with four minutes to play at Glanford Park.

09/04/05: Cobblers 1-2 Scunthorpe (League Two)

Andy Kirk put the Cobblers in front early on at Sixfields but the lead wouldn’t last long as Paul Hayes equalised ten minutes later. Richard Kell netted what turned out to be the winner twenty minutes in with Town struggling to find a response.

The man in the middle…

Kevin Wright is the referee at Glanford Park on Saturday. His last Cobblers game was the 3-2 home defeat to Burton Albion on Boxing Day 2011 during which he sent of Town’s John Johnson early on. He also refereed another 3-2 home reverse in March 2011 against Shrewsbury Town while his last Scunthorpe game came during their last season in the Championship – a 2-0 home loss against Middlesbrough in November 2010.

Prediction…

An away game against a high flyer should take us down to earth after this recent mini revival at Sixfields. Scunny always cause us problems and this will be no different – they’re flying and en route to promotion so anything here would be an absolute bonus. That being said, we’ve at least given ourselves a sense that we can give most a good game these days and, maybe more in hope than expectation, I’m going for a draw. 1-1.

 

Step in the right direction…

platt

Platt…first of the season salvages draw

Northampton Town 1-1 Scunthorpe United

League Two

Saturday, September 7th 2013

The overriding emotion after Saturday’s draw with Scunthorpe United is one of relief after the Cobblers came from a goal behind to dig out a point that pulls us away from what would have been an uncomfortable five defeats in six in League Two. As it was, thanks to Clive Platt doing no harm at all to his public relations chances, Town pulled a point out of the bag from a potentially tricky fixture and were left feeling a lot better about themselves.

Platt’s performance in particular would have been pleasing for his team mates and manager who have backed him to the hilt against plenty of pressure, this blogger included. The big man earned the Man of the Match award for his hold up play and the vital goal that came three minutes from time after a game sparse of genuine chances apart from the goals.

Scunthorpe had come to town looking to put an end to a bad early run of letting leads slip and looked to have avoided doing just that when Niall Canavan’s header broke the deadlock mid-way through the second half. After missing a golden opportunity in the first half, there was no stopping the defender as he powered in from an in swinging corner.

After a goal mouth scramble that Matt Duke did well to claim the ball from, the Cobblers settled and came back strong to earn the point with Platt chasing down a long ball and knocking the ball home left footed for his first goal of the season. It seemed just reward and will hopefully see him continue to positively battle Jacob Blyth for that ‘big man’ position up front and start to prove his doubters wrong. A couple of goals would go a long way to getting a good number of people off his back.

Town could still have won it late on with a couple of decent chances but a point was a fair result from a game that could easily have swing the other way.

With another home game, against Exeter City, up next it’s a good chance to really kick away from some poor early form in league and cup and now really is the time to stop looking for scapegoats and get more people back to Sixfields.

There’s a chance that an experienced defender could come in by the end of the week and it does still look like we need that leader at the back that can organise and be the voice that’s lacking at the moment in the back four.

It’s a baby step in the right direction but we have to take what we can get at the moment and really go for the three points against Exeter on Saturday to get rid of those early cobwebs.

Northampton Town v Scunthorpe United: Match Preview

sixfieldsNorthampton Town v Scunthorpe United

League Two

Saturday, September 7th 2013

After another defeat and red card on Tuesday night it gets no easier for the Cobblers as Scunthorpe United come to town tomorrow afternoon. It’s the first time we’ve faced one of the relegated sides from League One last season and with the Iron setting their sights on an immediate return to that level it’s going to be tough going.

If Town are to get back to winning ways we need to perform for both halves of the game and keep eleven men on the pitch – a combination that we’ve arguably only really managed once this season, against Newport County. There’s been some dramatic games between the two sides in the seasons where we have met but this is the first game between the sides since the 2008/09 season where we shared fourteen goals in two league games against each other!

Scunthorpe are still finding their feet at League Two level once again having won two promotions in three seasons since departing these shores in 2005. There’s been two separate stints in the Championship since then with the second of those seasons ending in the Iron finishing bottom before suffering a second relegation in three years when they finished 21st last term.

So it’s a rebuilding job ahead for boss Brian Laws who returned to the hot seat last October. Laws was at Glanford Park for nearly ten years before taking charge of Sheffield Wednesday in 2006 before a brief spell at Burnley in the Premier League and then at the start of their Championship campaign was ended after a 2-0 defeat to Scunthorpe. After the Iron sacked Alan Knill last season following a poor start to the season, Laws was identified as the man to come in and stop the rot. That start had everlasting effects, though, and he couldn’t prevent relegation, bringing him to his first full season back at the helm in the basement division.

It’s been an up and down start with one victory, three draws and a defeat from the opening five games and they’ll be heading to Sixfields with an eye on picking up three points to propel them away from mid-table and up towards the right end of the table. Hopefully me picking them as dark horses for promotion won’t start to come to fruition until after Saturday’s game!

 

Demontagnac...suspended

Demontagnac…suspended

Team News…

The Cobblers are without Ishmel Demontagnac who saw red against MK Dons in midweek and now faces a three match ban. Roy O’Donovan served his suspension for a red card last weekend during that game so he returns and Jacob Blyth will have given Aidy Boothroyd food for thought with a positive display at Stadium: MK so he could come in for Clive Platt. Joe Widdowson and Ian Morris both sat out of the last couple of games but will be back in contention for Scunthorpe’s visit. Matty Harriott made his debut on Tuesday night and could be handed a first league start for the club.

Scunthorpe made two changes for the midweek Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game against Sheffield United with Etienne Esajas set to be involved against the Cobblers after his first appearance for the club in that game. The Dutchman had spent a year out of the game completely but re-signed with his former Sheffield Wednesday boss Brian Laws this summer and has been battling to get match fit. Elsewhere, captain Michael Collins is out with knee ligament damage suffered in the 3-2 defeat at AFC Wimbledon and will remain on the sidelines for another month. Other than that, though, Laws has no new injury concerns ahead of the trip to Sixfields.

Previous Six Meetings…

21/04/09: Cobblers 3-3 Scunthorpe (League One)

Jason Crowe put the Cobblers in front late in the first half but before the break Liam Trotter grabbed an equaliser for the visitors. Grant McCann’s spot kick had the Iron in front but Ikechi Anya levelled the game again on the hour mark. Matt Sparrow looked to have won it for his side but the Cobblers again pulled it back when Mark Hughes headed in a Danny Jackman corner to keep League One survival hopes alive.

13/12/08: Scunthorpe 4-4 Cobblers (League One)

In one of our most dramatic games in recent memory, Scunthorpe looked to be on the way to an easy win when they moved into a 4-1 lead thanks to braces from Ben May and Gary Hooper with Scott McGleish’s strike seemingly only a consolation when he scored in the midst of that pummelling. But Giles Coke made it 4-2 before Danny Jackman gave us real hope just before the hour mark. Jackman then completed an astonishing comeback when Jackman scored direct from a corner with five minutes to go!

09/04/07: Cobblers 2-1 Scunthorpe (League One)

A memorable Easter Monday saw hundreds of Cobblers fans march from Northampton Guildhall to Sixfields in protest of the council’s delays of the stadium redevelopment before the game. Scunthorpe went into the game knowing that a win would earn them promotion from League One but Alex Pearce, on loan from Reading, converted David Hunt’s corner to put us in front. Billy Sharp equalised mid-way through the second half but deep, deep into stoppage time came a memorable Sixfields moment as Jordan Robertson’s cross was fired in at the back post by Bradley Johnson to earn three points towards League One safety. Johnson was then sent off for his celebrations but the majority of Sixfields weren’t too fussed!

 

18/11/06: Scunthorpe 1-0 Cobblers (League One)

A much quieter meeting earlier that season saw the Iron take all three points thanks to an Andy Crosby penalty with four minutes to play at Glanford Park.

09/04/05: Cobblers 1-2 Scunthorpe (League Two)

Andy Kirk put the Cobblers in front early on at Sixfields but the lead wouldn’t last long as Paul Hayes equalised ten minutes later. Richard Kell netted what turned out to be the winner twenty minutes in with Town struggling to find a response.

30/08/04: Scunthorpe 2-0 Cobblers (League Two)

Early on in the 2004/05 season, Scunthorpe beat against a Cobblers side that had made a reasonable start to the campaign under Colin Calderwood. Andy Keogh and an Andy Crosby penalty earned the Iron their fourth win in six League Two games. They would go on to finish second behind Yeovil Town with the Cobblers entering the playoffs and losing in the semi-finals for the second successive year.

Other notable clashes…

Sean Parrish’s goal in May 1997 earned a 1-0 win at Sixfields over Scunny with the win taking us to within a point of reaching the Division Three (League Two) playoffs. The rest is history!

Scunthorpe beat the Cobblers 7-0 in October 1993 with Matt Carmichael scoring a hat-trick. Also on the score sheet that day was Matt Elliott, who would later go on to star in the Premier League for Leicester City.

A season earlier, the Iron had hammered Town 5-0 in another routing at Glanford Park whilst the previous two games between the clubs at United’s home ended 3-0 in favour of Scunny!

The only cup game between the sides was a 3-2 Cobblers win in the 1970/71 League Cup at Glanford Park. Town would go on to beat York City after TWO replays in Round Two before bowing out at the hands of Aston Villa after another replay in Round Three.

The man in the middle…

Taking charge of the game on Saturday will be Sebastian Stockbridge. He’s in his first year as a referee in the Football League having progressed from the Conference last season. Stockbridge has shown twelve yellow cards and one red in four games so far this season.

Prediction…

This is a big game for the Cobblers with home fans expectant after four defeats in five games in League Two. Three points would be a massive boost but I fear that Scunthorpe will have enough to make it a frustrating afternoon. There should be goals, though. 2-2.

Fan Feature: Scunthorpe United

ScunthorpeWith 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.”

You can find Ross on Twitter here and cast an eye over the excellent Any Old Iron blog here.

Scunthorpe United Links:

Official Website: http://www.scunthorpe-united.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sufcofficial

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SUFCOfficial

Forum: http://boards.footymad.net/forum.php?tno=460

Blogs: http://anyoldiron1.blogspot.co.uk/

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scunthorpe_United_F.C.

BBC Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/teams/scunthorpe-united

Local News section: http://www.thisisscunthorpe.co.uk/scunthorpeunited