Preview: Scunthorpe United

Two limp defeats in the wake of an already poor run puts pressure on the team not only to win this upcoming game against Scunthorpe but to follow that up with a winning streak. We know this side is more than good enough to be leading the pack, to be in danger of falling entirely out of the race for promotion is more than a little embarrassing.

There are issues but there is more than enough time left to sort things out and give this season the finish it deserves. We could do with maybe one or two signings, some tactical tweaks and Mowbray settling on his best team, but above all, it’s about desire and intensity if we are to return to the swagger with which we started the season with.

I do go into our issues and possible solution in more detail here, so onto the more specific matter of beating Scunthorpe United. With no new signings looking like arriving in time for this game and the possibility of another Murphy and Armstrong-less affair, Tony Mowbray’s going to have to work with what he’s got.

Maybe, Might Be, Could Be, Possible Line-Up
Maybe, Might Be, Could Be, Possible Line-Up (To Be Taken With A Pinch Of Salt)

In defence, that means that an unchanged back four is almost dead certain given that Aaron Phillips looks set to be on the naughty step for quite a while. It may not necessarily be the worst thing in the world despite the makeshift nature of it, it might be better to settle on a four at the moment to give them time to learn from their mistakes rather than cause more disruptions and tinkering with the side again.

With John Fleck still suspended, Bigi is going to have to put in a much better performance but could do with some help from Vincelot in aiding his efforts to get the ball moving from the back. Further forward, only Tony Mowbray knows who’s going to line up in those front positions? Surely James Maddison has to start but right now the only surprise would be an unsurprising team selection, which raises an interesting paradox if you think about it.

Last Time We Met

For the second season running we gave a Scunthorpe manager’s ailing tenure a shot on the arm with an unexpectedly abject performance. Mark Robins’ side, packed with almost as many ex-Sky Blues as Bury, did a number on us. Pressing us high up the pitch, restricting us to just three shots (all off target), somehow we escaped Glanford Park with just a 1-0 defeat. John Fleck made an avoidable error in front of his own goal, not that he’s prone to doing that sort of thing, and Paddy Madden scored a typical poacher’s finish.

How Are They Doing?

Once again Mark Robins proved himself to be a manager with a limited shelf-life at a football club. When he arrived last season he made some sensible decisions, signed some good loan players and had Scunthorpe flying for a bit. Yet once the initial surge wore off, Scunthorpe became a fairly dull, obdurate League One side, despite the club’s chairman backing Robins fairly strongly in the transfer market.

A 5-0 defeat to Blackpool two weeks ago confirmed at last to Scunthorpe’s chairman Peter Swann that things weren’t ever going to improve under Robins. Under caretaker charge last week, Scunthorpe beat Colchester 3-0, which is pretty impressive although three goals against Colchester’s leaky defence is like half a goal against most other League One sides.

Scunthorpe should be feeling pretty confident about exploiting our tetchiness regardless though considering the talented squad that Robins assembled. The most recognisable name in that squad (aside from our ex-players) is Paddy Madden who is an energetic striker and an excellent finisher who guarantees goals at this level. Robins spent much of his reign trying to convert him into winger.

Possible Line-Up
Possible Line-Up

In further, ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this’ news, Gary McSheffrey has returned from injury in time to come into contention for this game. Jordan Clarke is out of favour at the moment and is unlikely to start in this game. They do also have ex-loanee Luke Willliams who didn’t have the best of times with us but looked close to being a pretty good player and could be looking to make a point here.

Murray Wallace in defence is a commanding presence at the back who played a big role in cutting off our entire attacking threat in the last meeting between these two sides. The competitive Stephen Dawson and Neal Bishop in midfield give Scunthorpe a very solid look to them down the middle which will make them especially awkward to play against. Despite Scunthorpe’s lowly position, there is more than enough about them for them to cause us real problems.


Talk of instantly returning to our old swagger and swatting away one of the division’s also-rans is well wide of the mark. Scunthorpe have everything about them to set up just like Burton did, shut off the middle of the pitch and wait for us to make errors at the back. Or they could be more proactive and press us to turn an anxious home crowd against their team. This isn’t going to be good viewing, especially if either or both of Armstrong and Murphy remain unavailable for selection.

You would expect some reaction here and I think talk of a collapse is both premature and melodramatic. I really have no idea what kind of performance we are going to produce here, we could return to that old trend under Mowbray of just getting a result when the pressure is starting to build or this could set the tone for the rest of the season.

So I’m going to pick a scoreline out of thin air here (aside from the usual scientific approach I take with these previews) and call this a 2-1 win for the Sky Blues because why not?

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