Friday, 17 April 2015

League One status could be secured this weekend

Kyle Wootton celebrates his first senior goal on Tuesday
But for me it may be one, even two, games too soon until we can really relax and celebrate. But it is coming, for sure.

My last post saw the Iron winless in eight and on the back of a 4-0 thumping away at Sheffield United. Thankfully, since that day we have managed to pick up a couple of all important wins and move to within a few points of confirmed safety.

Currently on 51 points, the Iron are in a position that would have already kept them in this league for the majority of the last ten years or so. But not this year, with the team in the final relegation spot on 47 points at the moment, it will almost certainly need 53, possibly more, to keep yourselves in League One this time round.

Going on that logic, I'm almost 100% certain that one more win will be enough to keep us up. And even if we win tomorrow and are not automatically safe - It is simply a case of sooner or later.

The past three games at Glanford Park have seen us yield seven points, and it was seven points that were so desperately needed.

Firstly we faced Peterborough United, who have had quite an up and down season like ourselves. Nonetheless you could say before kick off we weren't the favourites for this one.
We got ourselves a priceless 2-0 victory, and finally we had broken that barren winless streak. Onwards and upwards.

Next up we went to MK Dons in what would almost certainly be our hardest remaining fixture. And so it proved to be, with the Iron 2-0 down before five minutes had even been played. Ouch. Thankfully for our dignity's sake we kept the score down to 2-0, when at one point it looked like it was going to be a cricket score.

No need to worry about the loss at the Dons, cause Iron fans knew that would be almost certainly be game we'd get nothing out of. Sadly, I think a few were blinded by the bad start and started to moan - because let's not forget we did only concede two away from home against a team still in with a shout of the automatics.

Crawley Town came to GP last Saturday in an all out relegation six-pointer. Thankfully, we came out 2-1 winners, and despite giving ourselves a nervy finish we held on to earn a well deserved three points.

With the relegation worries not over, but beginning to be lifted away ever so slightly, we hosted Port Vale on Tuesday night in yet another relegation six pointer. Despite conceding in the first half and missing glorious opportunities to level earlier, it took a last gasp equaliser from youngster Kyle Wootton to rescue the point and edge us even closer to the safety mark. It was Wootton's first senior goal, in what will almost certainly be a case of 'First of many'. A big shout out must also be given to Hakeeb, who's inch perfect cross led to the headed goal.

Results largely went in our favour on Tuesday too, which leads us to this weekend...

Chesterfield 6-0 Colchester. We travel 'darn sarf' tomorrow for our third relegation six-pointer (getting sick of saying that now) in a row, and it could be the day we can all relax fully. Colchester were hit for six on Tuesday at play off hopefuls Chesterfield, meaning the U's are now three points adrift of Leyton Orient in 20th, with a significantly lower goal difference too.

Realistically, if the Iron can get this win, not only would it secure our place in League One for the next season - It could also be the final nail in the coffin for Colchester, with some tricky looking ties to follow their game with us. We are their last chance, but we cannot play help and become their answer to safety - we must plunge that nail so deep that they cannot escape it, and move ourselves into a very healthy position.

Colchester United survived on the final day of the 2012/13 season sending us down. I doubt they thought twice about us. Time for payback, and hopefully it will be so sweet.

Up the Iron!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

It's time for the players to stand up and be counted

And they have the perfect opportunity this coming Saturday when we head to Notts County, a team below the Iron in the table, and on an equally poor run of form.

It's crazy that around about a month ago the Play-offs were a realistic dream for us, and now everything seems doom and gloom, with safety the only priority.

First off let me say this - I have EVERY faith that our management team and players have what it takes to get us to safety. Yes, this past month has been filled with poor performances to match the poor results, but luck has also deserted us at times too.

Let's take it back a notch then. Sheffield United at home, our last home game in fact. We played well at times in this game, and took the lead, before being pegged back just before half time. Would the majority of Scunny fans be as disheartened as they are feeling right now, had the referee in that game not made the worst decision I've ever seen? If one failed in any other job so terribly, one would be sacked. I hope he still has nightmares every night. That game should have finished 2-1, and we should be three points off the bottom four, not one.

Next up we headed to Rochdale who still have a chance of reaching the play offs. Having been there to see the match, there's not much positive I can say. We failed to deal with the physicality of Dale, and couldn't string more than two passes together. Thankfully I left the game concentrating on the impressive performance of goalscorer Kevin Van Veen, rather than sulking over the 3-1 thumping we'd endured. It could have been more.

So without a win in seven we headed to a team sitting comfortably in the play offs - Sheffield United. Having seen us robbed of a win at Glanford Park only a week or so earlier I was optimistic that they were a team that could be beaten, despite their league position. There's no point me saying too much about the match because it wasn't exactly an enjoyable experience for any Iron fan. I don't enjoy seeing my team so incredibly outclassed all over the park. 4-0 was a fair result, and in fairness to the Blades they looked a completely different team to the one that turned up at our place.

Now winless in eight, Iron fans have gone into meltdown. I'm not sure why I haven't, at least yet any way. I understand why people are worrying, but I feel we have enough in us to get out of this mess we've been dragged in to.
A win on Saturday is the only acceptable outcome for either team. The loser on the day is really left in the sh*t and could be thrown into the bottom four should Crewe win, whilst the winner gets the chance to breathe easily for a few days. I would seriously like to breathe easier please Iron.

A day after the night of terrors at Bramall Lane, we was rewarded with some good news; Dave Syers was playing for the reserves. Not only did he play the first 45 minutes, he scored twice! Subbed at half time - he'd done his work for the day. A man that was pivotal to promotion last year will be a most welcome boost to the first team squad. Dave will be back in the first team squad before the end of April, and we will be better off for it.

Notts County, you may look at our form and see us as an easy three points. But we are the boys in claret and blue, and we won't give it to you on a plate. See you on Saturday. 3pm.

Up the Iron.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Iron show fighting spirit twice in four days

On Saturday we hosted bottom of the league Yeovil, and despite being favourites we stuttered to a disappointing draw. Then last night we travelled to Fleetwood and one again managed to get a draw, a much less disheartening result than the Yeovil one.

We simply weren't good enough on Saturday. Yeovil with respect are a team you should be brushing aside, especially facing them at home. We didn't play particularly poor at any point, we just didn't create enough real opportunities.

Yeovil took the lead in the 28th minute when Joel Grant latched onto an effort which was parried into his path by the helpless Luke Daniels. Wait, the game we should be winning and we are.. Losing?!

Half time approached and a smart move from Pads saw him felled in the penalty area and we had a penalty awarded. Paddy stepped up confidently to take it, and substitute keeper Gareth Stewart saved it comfortably. Damn. Oh and Stewart came on to replace what looked like a nasty head injury to Krysiak - Stewart is Yeovil's goalkeeper coach.

Thankfully, an inspired substitution from Mark Robins saw Hakeeb come on early in the Second half and by the 61st minute his magic feet had Yeovil's defence all over the place before he smashed home bringing us level with plenty of time to find a winner.

Sadly, that winner never came - And we could have lost it, as although it was Yeovil's only real chance of the second half, it should have been buried.

Scunny fans now knew the Play Offs were gone, and a few were looking over our shoulders again.

Tuesday night came around quickly, and a tricky tie with Fleetwood was going to make for an interesting tie considering our decent form away from home.

Fleetwood got one in the first few minutes, and I feared the worst. Thankfully, we were level just before half time when Gary McSheffrey finished from just outside the box.

We got ourselves on top in the Second half and against the run of play the home side took the lead once more, and this time I really didn't see us getting back into it.

Incredibly, within a couple of minutes of that goal we were level! Brilliant fighting spirit from our lads saw us deservedly back in the game thanks to Man City loanee George Evans.

So two fight backs from losing positions isn't so upsetting. Now we need to head to Crewe on Saturday and find our winning form again, it's been a while now. The William Hill football betting odds shows we are the very slightest underdogs as we sit at 6/4, compared to 7/5 for Crewe to win. Personally, I believe that's a great price considering our away form.

See you all in Crewe on Saturday ready to cheer the Iron to their first win since the Chesterfield one.

Up the Iron!

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Play Off dream has sidetracked us all from the real goal

And that goal, based on our shocking start to this season, is to stay in League One. 

It was by far the most disappointing loss under Mark Robins tenure on Tuesday night, there's no hiding from that. But we must take the positives out of the game, and move on.

We gifted Barnsley their first away victory in eight attempts. Eight! They were absolutely atrocious away from home and we had improved significantly in recent weeks at Glanford Park. So where did it go wrong?

We didn't take our chances when we were on top, and it was always going to come back and bite us on the bum.

But despite the loss, we are still only five points outside of the Play Offs. 

For me, we need to get to safety now as a priority over the dreams of the Play Offs. Realistically, the current squad is not good enough to go up this season. We aren't a million miles away from having a team that could compete at the top end of the table, and I honestly believe next season could be a year to make some lifelong memories. It could be OUR year. But this year is about safety. And that was what Robins was brought in to do in his first year - let's not forget that.

Saturday sees us welcome bottom of the table Yeovil Town to GP. They are a team we should be putting to bed easily, all things considered. But it's never that simple with Scunny.

Yeovil's Championship career ended after just the one year last season, and they have found life back in League One extremely difficult. It mirrors the last Iron team that came down from the Championship, as we too suffered a torrid time.

I'm bringing the girlfriend to what will be her fourth Scunthorpe game. So far, it's been three out of three. Forest Green away first, then Crewe at home before we travelled to Walsall to watch the emphatic 4-1 win last month. 

Going on that, enjoy a massive Scunthorpe win on Saturday folks - Lady luck is on our side.

Up The Iron!!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Barnsley game the perfect chance to bounce back quickly after Saturday's set back

Saturday saw us lose 2-0 at promotion hopefuls Preston North End, a game which the Iron can have few quarrels about losing.

Two second half goals from Johnson and Gallagher were enough to send us to our first away defeat since September the 27th (vs Oldham), as an incredible run of eight games undefeated away from home in the league came to an end.

I don't think I saw too many Iron fans deflated and moaning after this loss because, admittedly, it was a game few could see us getting anything out of prior to the match.

We've been treated as of late with great performances against the teams seriously pushing for promotion, but like they did when they came to Glanford Park earlier on in the season, Preston had too much for us to deal with.

The two goals we did concede were disappointing from a defensive perspective, but hey let's get serious here, we were 'relegation certainties' earlier on in the season, and now we are comfortably out of the drop zone with games in hand - we can hardly bemoan our fortunes.

So as always we look forward to the next game, and luckily we can bounce back quickly with a game against Barnsley at home tomorrow night to look forward to.

Barnsley, who are still on the lookout for a new manager since sacking Danny Wilson, come into the game 18th in League One, and recorded an important victory over Crewe Alexandra at the weekend.

The game against Barnsley will come too soon for our top scorer last term, Sam Winnall, so there will be no Glanford Park return this season for Winnall.

Kevin Van Veen was brought off at half time on Saturday which led to a few jumping to the conclusion that our Dutch forward had picked up an injury. Thankfully, Mark Robins has put those rumours to bed stating that the substitution was purely tactical, as Van Veen struggled to get a foothold in the game.

Hopefully we can get a good crowd to the game tomorrow and the three points to follow.

Up the Iron!!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Keep the 24th of May 2015 free in your diaries

Because the Iron are going to Wembley, and you heard it here first!

Okay, I'll admit I'm really not THAT confident of us getting into the Play-offs, never mind winning the bleeding thing, but what's wrong with a bit of optimism?

Last week I posted about how are home form needed to improve. Two games, Two home fixtures and Two victories later - I think Mark Robins and the team got the picture.

Defeating Swindon 3-1 was unexpected, but last nights result was a little more predictable.

Of course, had the Chesterfield team that knocked us out of the FA Cup shown up I probably wouldn't be writing such a positive article right now, but it seems that without Eoin Doyle and Gary Roberts in the team they're a fairly average side. Thankfully, the Iron took advantage of that.

Another goal for Canavan saw us take the lead early in the second half following a headed flick on by Kev Van Veen from O'Neill's corner, and Canavan was there at the back post to nod home. 1-0, and as we always say in Scunthorpe - One just ain't enough.

Thankfully Chesterfield's equaliser never came, but Paddy Madden made sure the points would stay deservedly in Scunthorpe when he smashed the ball past Tommy Lee whilst one-on-one with only three minutes to go.

The fantastic 2-0 win which lifts us to 14th with games in hand still on the majority of League one.

This Saturday we travel to PNE in what will be one of the hardest remaining fixtures. Preston are particularly hard to beat at home, but then again we are particularly hard to beat away from home, so good luck calling that one!

If you want to hear my radio chat with James Hoggarth prior to the game yesterday on BBC Radio Humberside, click here, and once on the page skip to 25 minutes in.

And yes, I did call a Scunthorpe win!


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Maintaining yesterday's second half performance momentum is imperative

First of many for Van Veen?

1-0 down at half time against one of the best teams in the division, you'd be forgiven for thinking Scunny would be lucky to get a draw at that stage - especially considering our relatively dire performances at home this season.

Somehow I sit here writing this piece on Sunday afternoon after a massive 3-1 victory for the Iron.

Despite starting the Second half a little like we ended the first, we finally got ourselves into gear, and following a sustained period of Iron pressure which saw Bishop hit the crossbar, we finally got ourselves back into the game. 1-1, and who other than Paddy Madden to be the man to get the goal. Funnily enough the corner we gained from Bishops effort which cannoned off the crossbar was the one that got us the goal.

So at half time you'd of been happy enough to get a point from the game but now you are at 1-1 with 30 minutes left to play. Do you go for all three points or try and hold what you've got, remembering that Swindon are a very decent side and a point wouldn't be the end of the world.

What happened next not many Scunny fans will have envisioned happening, especially considering our GP form.

Another corner brilliantly whipped in by Liam O'Neill was headed into the bottom right hand corner by Niall Canavan. Niall gets a fair whack of stick from our fans and sometimes it's warranted, but credit where credit is due, he's scored a huge goal for us here. Hopefully he can go on a bit of a run of form!

2-1. Let's be honest we all know one goal is not nearly enough to secure three points when the Iron are involved in a match. We saw the boys throw away two points in the 93rd minute on Tuesday and nothing other than another goal for us would settle the home crowds nerves.

Thankfully that clinching goal came in the 79th minute, and just thinking about it excites me. When your club spends big money on a player, you live in hope that the fee is worth it and the player proves it early on in his career at your club. When the player is a striker, you pray they bag their first goal quickly and kick on from there.

Kevin Van Veen. You can already sense he is going to become a legend at our club, and when he capitalised on a defensive slip he ran through on goal and chipped the Swindon keeper. You'd never have guessed it was only his first in claret and blue.

Despite late Swindon pressure we held on for three well deserved, valuable points. It gives us a chance once again to dream of a late play off surge, but if that is to happen then we need to continue the form of the second half yesterday into Tuesday (vs Chesterfield) and beyond.

Let's hope we reap revenge on Chezzy for the FA Cup exit and early season league battering at their place, whilst climbing the League One table.

Up the Iron - Viva Van Veen.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Swindon at home is the perfect chance to dust off the Glanford Park cobwebs

Glanford Park. Once known as the fortress of Scunthorpe. I remember those years in the Championship when teams feared the place. Maybe it was the look? Maybe it was the smell? Or Maybe it was the fact the pitch was smaller than any other in the league, so tippy tappy football was pretty redundant. All I know, is we were a force to be reckoned with at home, and now... Now we are scared.

We don't set up like a team playing at home, if you ask me. Robins has to start with a 4-4-2 formation and take it to teams right from the off - let them know they are in for a proper game, don't give them a minute to get a foothold in the match.

Against the 'better teams' in the division we've not performed too badly at home. Against Bristol City, the best team in the league apparently, we were incredible. I hadn't seen a performance like that at GP for years. Yes we lost, but under freak circumstances (Losing Sam and James to broken arms, didn't help the cause), and don't get me going on that dive for the penalty. Moving swiftly away from thinking about that game, as my blood pressure has only just got back to normal...

So why after that decent performance only a few weeks ago, are we now back to under-performing in front of our own fans again? The loss at home to Oldham all but ended any hopes we had of a late play off surge. That's the kind of team you should be beating at home.

Tomorrow, we welcome the divisions other 'best team' in the form of Swindon Town who will be looking to bounce back from their own loss to Oldham, last Tuesday.

But what Scunthorpe team will show up tomorrow?

The fearless one that outplayed Bristol City?


The frightful one who threw away a great chance to climb the table (twice this week) who lost to Oldham?

Let's hope for a cracking game, a big crowd - and most of all (even more important than Kevin Van Veen's first goal for the Iron) three massive, MASSIVE points.

Don't forget the offer for the game as shown in the image below:

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Up the Iron (Que Sera Sera)!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Can we start the season again?

Photo credit: Steve Hope
Last night the Iron slipped to their third successive league defeat at the hands of fellow promotees Fleetwood Town. First of all, despite the performance not being anything close to acceptable - it was an improvement on Saturday. 4-0 against Preston was a fair result, they battered us. But did we deserve to lose 2-0 last night? Not for me. Their first was a nice breakaway goal against the run of play whilst the second was a sublime flick of the head from an even better free kick. I'm not sure many teams in this league could have defended the second goal any better than we did, due to the quality of the cross. So if we didn't deserve to lose, did we deserve to win? Nope. We quite simply did not create enough 'good chances'. And the two we did create Canavan decided to squander, when both looked easier to put away. Don't get me started on Canavan.

We have McAllister and Bishop both playing in the middle. Individually these two are fantastic, but together - it just doesn't work. Neither are nearly forward thinking enough to give us that fine balance that we had in the side last year when we had Syers playing alongside McAllister. Okay so Wilcox has been a little unlucky that Syers picked up his season ending injury as I am sure he would have chosen him ahead of one of Bishop or McAllister in the past two games. But why as soon as Syers was ruled out wasn't he the first player we replaced? Yes we needed Winnall's replacement but we could have survived much better without Kee coming in (for now) - but we will not survive if we do not bring in a high quality attacking midfielder, and soon. It has to be the highest priority. And I'm afraid Nicky Featherstone is not that man - but admittedly a nice back-up to have. He'll probably start on Saturday if Neal Bishop's injury was worse than it looked!

On a more positive note I am happy with the signings we have made over the past few days. First through the door was Billy Kee from Burton Albion - whom we've paid for so fair play Swann for releasing the funds for that! Kee signed a 2 year contract and boasts an impressive goal scoring record at League 2 level. He made 117 appearances for the Brewers scoring 42 in total.
Swiftly followed on from Kee was the announcement of Luke O'Neill coming to the club from Premier League new boys Burnley on a three month loan deal. He impressed massively on his debut yesterday picking up the Twitter Man of the Match, as well as the sponsors award too.
Finally a few hours before kick off yesterday we brought in Peterborough United's goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik on a one month loan. The Iron were without a senior keeper after Sam Slocombe and James Severn both picked up injuries.

Welcome to the new arrivals and let's hope we can kick on after this dreadful start.

Up the Iron!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Iron close to signing experienced central defender Miguel Llera

Miguel Llera, the former Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons centre-back, impressed during his run-out for Scunthorpe United against Huddersfield Town. Picture: Steve Hope.
Is this man on his way to Glanford Park? - Photo: Steve Hope
According to BBC Humberside reports we are close to agreeing a deal with Spaniard Miguel Llera to bring the experienced man to Glanford Park.

Their official account tweeted:
We understand Scunthorpe United are close to agreeing a deal with former Sheff Wed defender Miguel Llera following his trial with the club.
Whilst their sports reporter Mike White went on to say:
It looks like Scunthorpe United could be close to agreeing a deal for centre-half Miguel Llera after all. No other details yet.
Llera impressed whilst on trial, playing for us in a friendly last Saturday against Huddersfield - a game we would go on to win 1-0, keeping a solid clean sheet against a team from the division above.

Wilcox made no mistake when it came to filling the whole left by Mirfin's injury as we announced the loanee signing of Miles Addison on an initial month from Bournemouth yesterday. So it may come as a surprise that we are going to add more depth in that area, but a pleasant surprise nonetheless. It could be that Mirfin's injury is worse than first feared, and Russ has identified that by choosing to sign the Spaniard quickly - before he is likely snapped up elsewhere.

Llera has made over 70 appearances in the Championship for Sheffield Wednesday in the last 2 seasons proving his experience at a higher level than what we find ourselves at. He may be 34, but this could be a huge signing for the Iron. He could be our modern day Andy Crosby.

Keep your eye out on the Any Old Iron Facebook page for any updates as they happen on the subject.

Up the Iron!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Scunthorpe sign Sheffield United's Lyle Taylor

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Taylor with his new Gaffer - Russ Wilcox

This morning the Iron announced their third summer signing as they convinced Sheffield United forward Lyle Taylor to move to North Lincolnshire as oppose to north of the border, where he had been rumoured to be a target for a few clubs.

Lyle joins the Iron after spending the second half of last season on loan at Partick Thistle in the SPL. He made quite the impact there as his 7 goals helped steer the club clear of relegation at the expense of Hibs (coincidentally both these teams were rumoured to be interested in Taylor).

In 20 appearances for his parent club Sheffield United he managed to hit the back of the net twice, although it is worth noting that the majority of these appearances for the Blades were from the bench. Prior to joining ‘the other SUFC’ last summer he scored a quite amazing 29 goals in 34 league appearances for Falkirk in the Scottish first division. Signed last summer by then Blades manager David Weir he would find first team opportunities hard to come by after Weirs sacking, and Nigel Clough’s eventual appointment – This then leading to his loan spell in Scotland.

At 6ft2 he offers a bit of height to a fairly small Iron attack. One thing it is worth noting is that this signing does NOT mean we are definitely going to sell Winnall. We released 2 strikers this summer and have replaced them with one. If Winnall goes – we will bring in another, probably a Premier League youngster on loan.

Welcome to Scunthorpe Lyle – Play your heart out every game and you’ll be a hit!

Up the Iron!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Scunthorpe United announce third kit for the 2014/15 season

Yesterday Scunthorpe United announced they will have a third kit to commemorate 20 years of the popular supporters group ‘Irish Iron’. The kit will of course be Green and will have the words ‘Irish Iron 20 years’ sitting nicely under the badge. This was great news and a deserved bit of recognition for a supporters group who tot up the miles supporting this club every season – but there was even bigger news to come.

For the past few years a large percentage of Iron fans have been petitioning for the club to leave the current 3D badge behind and return to our roots with the popular 2D badge. Along with the announcement of the new third kit there was the news that this shirt would don the old 2D badge for the season. 

The news has been met with a mixed amount of views. Most are chuffed with the new shirt and returning to the 2D badge. Some are happy about the badge but hate the green shirt. Some like neither. But at the end of the day you can’t please everyone, and this is yet more evidence that Iron Chairman Peter Swann is open ears when it comes to suggestions from a large percentage of the fan base. 

Hopefully when we move into our new stadium in the ‘near future’, it will be the 2D badge that is plastered everywhere.
News regarding the stadium has been a little quiet of recent. When the club announced yesterday morning that there would be a “big announcement in the afternoon", many jumped to the conclusion that this would be stadium news, including myself. Although it wasn’t news on the stadium at this particular time, I am told that things are still moving positively and there should be news on the subject in the next week or so.

Up the Iron!