Iron Preview - Home, 26th April
For Scunthorpe, bridging the gap between League One and the Championship was much like the gap between Championship and Premiership last season for Watford. Scunthorpe, as Adrian decalred earlier in the season are a 'proper club, a meat and potato pie club.` They`ve gone about things the wrong way, and had it not been for finances ruling the club, they could well still be in this division.
The sales of Andy Keogh to Wolves last January and Billy Sharp to Sheffield United last Summer were massive dents in the Iron`s hopes of staying up. It`s a bit like taking Marlon King away from us, we`ve struggled since, irrespective of his want to play at a higher level. Except, it`s twice as bad, because Scunthorpe have lost the entire partnership. Unlike Luton last season though, Nigel Adkins men have kept the rest of their squad virtually in tact.
Martin Paterson was the man brought in to replace Sharp and in his first season at professional level, the Stoke academy graduate has done well. Tony Pulis breeds big, strong frontmen and the young Ulsterman is another example. Thirteen goals has been an excellent return for a player who cost the Iron nothing, whilst alongside him, Paul Hayes has been the nippy one of the two, but managed just the five goals since his loan move from Barnsley was made permanent.
So there`s one problem ironed out, [get the pun?], a lack of goals, though Paterson has more than our top scorer, Darius Henderson! In midfield, Ian Morris has chipped in of late and a speculative half way line effort the other weekend against Sheffield Wednesday was a joy to behold. Signed on a free transfer from Leeds United, the midfielders only other pro` games had come at Blackpool between 2005 and 2006.
Alongside Morris, is Scunthorpe 'veteran`, Matt Sparrow. Now in his ninth year at the club, the diminutive central midfielder has racked up over 200 league starts for the club and notched 31 goals from midfield. His place in the team comes after competition from the experienced heads of the side, Jim Goodwin, and Ian Baraclough.
Goodwin has enjoyed eleven years in the game, making his pro` bow for Celtic before leaving in 2002 before joining Stockport and then moving onto Scunny. His leadership has been evident this season, captaining the side on several occasions, and in a squad as young as Nigel Adkins, experienced heads are needed.
There come no more experienced therefore than Andy Crosby, now 35, the centre half has racked up nearly 600 league starts for various sides, 155 of those made for the Iron. You would have thought at that age, and with the step up in class, 'Crozzer` would have been left behind this season. Not likely, Nigel Adkins captain has been a virtual ever-present alongside the twice red-carded Cliff Byrne.
This season may have been a step to far for the Northerners, but they will be back…
Lee; Doyley, Shittu, Bromby, Stewart; Smith, Eustace (c), O`Toole, McAnuff; Henderson and Priskin.
Murphy; Izzy, Hobbs, Crosby, Williams; Sparrow, Goodwin, Morris, Hurst; Hayes and Paterson.