Marcus previews Saturday's visit of Scunthorpe United
I seem to say this every time but this is the most important game of the season so far. That is the reality of life at the top or the bottom of a division; your next game is always the most important. I probably say that the next game is going to be the toughest quite often too but rarely will we see a team in such good form as fifth placed Scunthorpe are now.
A good partnership between Funso Ojo and Neal Bishop in the heart of the midfield is central to the success of the Iron. The pair are part of a tight group of eight players that have played a part in every League One game Scunthorpe have played. A further three players have taken part in eight of The Lincolnshire clubs League One games this season. Lee Novak is the only squad player outside these groups to score with two goals in 3 starts and 3 sub appearances.
In the league, Scunthorpe have only been beaten once and when they were beaten, by Blackburn, it took an excellent goal that relied on a good delivery and finish. In their only other defeat this season, a classy looking Middlesbrough beat them 3-0 in the League Cup. Each of the Boro goals were excellent so it looks like we need to really be at our very best to get anything, even at home.
Scunthorpe have kept seven clean sheets this season in League One, that's 70% of their games. They have only conceded in three league games this season and on each occasion it was just a single goal. In away games it's 80% of their games that end in a clean sheet, just one away goal conceded in the league this season. In their last eight League One games the Iron have kept seven clean sheets.
Josh Morris is a former Blackburn Rovers trainee who has played on either wing and is also comfortable in front of goal. His career has an interesting pattern with a relatively sparse return of goals with his first six clubs contrasted by his haul of 22 goals in 54 games since joining the Iron in June 2016. He's a player who likes to make space for himself to operate wherever his is on the pitch and he's supplied three assists to add to his three league goals.
Not so many of these of late, they scored nine times in six games in August but this month has seen them in a less generous mood in defence and going forward. In the six games played in September so far, the Iron have scored five times but have failed to score on three occasions.
Of the seven goals United have scored in away games, three of them have been scored in the last fifteen minutes. They haven’t conceded in the first half of any match so far in the league but they have conceded twice in the first fifteen minutes of the second half.
Scunthorpe have managed to go through their ten league games without having a player sent off and they've also had five caution free games out of their ten played in the league. From their six games in September Scunthorpe have received five yellow cards and 0 red.
Graham Harwood from Luton. Games this season: 8. Yellow card average: 3 per game. No red cards this season.
Neither team has any new injury worries.
Scunthorpe are a bit like we are, a team that works for each other and I like the way they play. Certain areas of their game look similar to our own; if they don’t have the ball their fist instinct is to win it right back. Their next instinct is to look for the quickest way to hurt the opposition, always looking to put the ball in those difficult to defend, pressure-inducing areas.
Their individual ability worries me a little too, Lee Novak is a forward in his prime and at possibly a lower level than he deserves but maybe that shows Scunthorpe's ambition. Josh Morris is a player with Premier League and Championship experience and at 25 he's just getting to peak age for a forward oriented player.
I wouldn't be surprised to see this one end in a stalemate, an entertaining one though between two hard working teams that aren't afraid to pass the ball. Both teams are capable of keeping things tight but I think we're going to have to pull out all of the stops to get anything here. I have to be honest, after the season we've had I could forgive a defeat by a team in such great form. I thought the same about Blackburn and Wigan but we got something good out of both games. I really hope that most of the fans that came last time will come and cheer Town on, it obviously has a positive impact and it's excellent fun!
Shrewsbury Town 2-2 Scunthorpe United