Preview: Scunthorpe United

Another week, another win for Coventry City. The most pleasing aspect of the game against Yeovil was how it almost felt routine. Now that we are back at the Ricoh Arena we feel like the club we should be again, of course Coventry City should beat Yeovil Town and that was exactly what happened on Saturday.

With Reda Johnson in the team we will always be able to threaten from set-pieces, he managed to head in a Jim O’Brien corner despite being fairly well marshalled by the Yeovil defence. As the game wore on Frank Nouble had a greater influence on the game, terrorising the Yeovil back-line with his pace as well as physical presence, if he can build on his last two performances, he will be a menace in this division. Another plus point from Saturday’s game was Simeon Jackson getting on the score-sheet, the hope is that he can now become the go-to man for goals this season.

The star of the show was once again John Fleck, whilst I feel that he is still below the level he was at 12 months ago he has really risen to the challenge of playing in front of the bigger crowds at the Ricoh Arena. So many were robbed of the opportunity to see Fleck in full flow last season but even at 90% he is being rightly lauded as the key player for this team.

Momentum is building after another win at the Ricoh Arena.
Momentum is building after another win at the Ricoh Arena.

We now sit 5th in the division following back-to-back win at the Ricoh Arena. A seemingly straightforward week on the road with trips to lowly Scunthorpe and Rochdale present great opportunities to build on our current run of form. Complacency could be a killer here as both of our opponents will be desperate for home points and we will have to continue to work hard for results. This team though seems to relish battling for results, a credit to Steven Pressley’s recruitment over the summer.

Heading into this evening game at Glanford Park we are facing something of a crisis in terms of attacking options. With Shaun Miller likely to continue to be absent from the squad with an injury picked up in the Swindon game, Josh McQuoid had to be substituted due to concussion last Saturday and there are also concerns over Frank Nouble. Luckily, our depth in attack means that we will be able to put two decent strikers on the pitch against Scunthorpe in Marcus Tudgay and Simeon Jackson but ideally you would imagine that Pressley would have wanted to pair Jackson and Nouble after the two showed promising signs of a partnership against Yeovil. He may though still be able to do that provided Nouble can prove his fitness.

Otherwise we should be able to field a full-strength team although Jordan Willis limped off with an injury in the Yeovil game so Seb Hines may have a chance to make his first start for the club.

Possible Line-Up: (5-3-2) Allsop; Clarke, Willis, Webster, Johnson, Haynes; O’Brien, Fleck, Thomas; Nouble, Jackson.

Last Time We Met

This evening’s visit to Glanford Park might allow Steven Pressley to reflect on the progress made during his time with Coventry City. The last time we visited Scunthorpe was in Pressley’s first game in charge at the club back in March 2013. With the team still with a realistic shot at the play-offs, it was important that we got off to a winning start. Despite falling behind to an early Akpo Sodje goal, Carl Baker and Leon Clarke made it a winning start to life at Coventry City for Steven Pressley.

Following that win, Coventry City were able to pick up four points from the next two games to keep the team within spitting distance of the play-offs. However our hopes were dealt a body-blow after the club were deducted 10 points for administration and the season played itself out in a rather drab fashion.

We return to Scunthorpe once again looking to give our play-off/promotion hopes a real shot in the arm by taking three points. Only John Fleck and Jordan Willis from our current squad featured in that previous contest as we very much have become Steven Pressley’s Coventry City.

How Are They Doing?

Back then we faced a Scunthorpe United side who were going through a period of stagnation after a couple of good spells in the Championship during the reigns of Brian Laws and Nigel Adkins. Their eventual relegation during the 2012/13 season preceded a number of changes at the club which saw them win promotion last season at the first attempt. Chief among which was chairman Peter Swann taking the reigns in the boardroom. Swann funded last season’s promotion whilst handing the manager’s job to Russ Wilcox at a key stage last season. The longer-term future of the club has seemingly been secured with plans to move to a new 12,000 all-seater stadium in the next few years.

Russ Wilcox's job is on the line ahead of this evening's fixture.
Russ Wilcox’s job is on the line ahead of this evening’s fixture.

However the sense of momentum is under threat after a desperately poor start to the season. Whilst I tipped Scunthorpe to be something of a surprise package earlier this summer, a combination of managerial inexperience from Russ Wilcox and the loss of several of last year’s key players has led to the Iron sinking to 23rd in the division.

The key losses for Scunthorpe over the past few months have been selling top-scorer Sam Winnall to Barnsley and letting attacking foil Paul Hayes leave the club for Wycombe. Additionally injuries to creative midfielder Dave Syers and experienced centre-back David Mirfin have left Scunthorpe struggling to create chances as well as keep goals out at the back.

After containing Chesterfield fairly well for 45 minutes on Saturday and taking the lead early in the second-half, Scunthorpe eventually ran out of steam and conceded four goals in the final 35 minutes. This is a team that still has the potential to be awkward customers for those ready to underestimate them but confidence is very brittle, an early goal conceded might be too much for them to handle.

Key will be Paddy Madden in attack, their current top-scorer. It was a surprise to see him drop into League Two last January despite being the League One top-scorer the prior season but he is currently one of the rare sources of hope in this Scunthorpe United team. He will be supported in attack by ex-Sky Blue Gary McSheffrey who will have a point to prove after being placed in the ‘bomb squad’ last year by Steven Pressley.

Possible Line-Up: (4-4-2) Olejnik; O’Neill, Llera, Canavan, Dawson; Adelakun, Sparrow, McAllister, Williams; McSheffrey, Madden.


If we want to make the top 6 this season then you would have to say that we should be looking to win games like this. Scunthorpe are in disarray and we need to take advantage of their crisis in confidence. If we can win this game, then you can see some further momentum being built to go alongside the return to the Ricoh Arena and our current seven game unbeaten run. Three game winning-streaks in the league are a rare sight at Coventry City in recent years and if we were to win tonight it would be only the second time we have done so since relegation to this division.

The main worry for me would be the wounded animal argument in favour of Scunthorpe United. It all depends on how much their players want to fight for their manager or if they might want to make this the potential final straw for Russ Wilcox. Either way we are still a strong team with plenty of confidence and resilience, my prediction is a 2-0 win for Coventry City.

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