Good at drawing might be fine on your child’s school report but not for getting in the play-offs. Four draws in the last five league games, culminating in Saturday’s last-minute heartbreak at Shrewsbury, has just about put paid to our hopes of finishing in the top six and simply suggests we are not yet good enough to consider ourselves promotion contenders.
Not having a realistic play-off aim takes some of the gloss off the remaining games. Of course, for the rest of the season we’ll continue to ‘play for pride’, and while we can still cling to that phrase which only seems to appear at this stage of the season – mathematically possible. But it will all feel a bit like going through the motions, starting with Saturday’s visit of Chesterfield.
They are 10 points behind us in the table so we should be capable of beating them. But to do that – and in the long term challenge for promotion – we need to start showing greater solidity, authority and consistency. And stop making silly mistakes.
It wasn’t just Daniels’ drop which cost us on Saturday, but Wootton losing the ball near halfway to set up their late equaliser, and no-one taking responsibility to deal with the eventual cross which led to that goal.
Chesterfield will certainly take advantage of any errors, because they’ve been on a bit of run under Danny Wilson, who took over from Dean Saunders in December, and are unbeaten in five games before Saturday’s 4-1 home defeat to Walsall, in which they were down to 10 men for the last 30 minutes.
Top scorer on 13 goals is Lee Novak, on a season-long loan from Birmingham City. He’s a player who works hard and, our defence please note, is good in the air. And he says the Iron can expect a different proposition from the Spireites side we beat 3-0 at the Proact back in October. “They’re a good team, they beat us earlier in the season,” he said, “but we’re playing a different way now. We should be confident after the results we’ve pulled off in the last six games. We’ll go there with no fear.”
The former Wolves striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is the team’s second top scorer with 10 goals but he has started the last two games on the bench.
One final thing worthy of note about Chesterfield, given the recent row at Scunny about OAP ticket prices. From next season Chesterfield are giving a free season ticket to any fan over 80. A nice touch.
Message to Scunthorpe
Talking of season tickets, Shrewsbury’s chief executive Brain Caldwell, who joined from St Mirren in February, has brought with him some ideas and beliefs which Scunny would do well to heed.
He has already raised the age for season-ticket concessions to 18 and says generally: “We need to look at how we grow our fanbase here,” he said. “The average age of our season ticket holders is, dare I say, too high. We need to encourage young people. We did a lot of work with them at St.Mirren and engaged the local community and we have a great opportunity to market the club.
“Even if they might have an affinity to Manchester United they’re not going to be able to go there every week, whereas they can come to Shrewsbury. Improving the match-day experience is also on my hit-list. We have great facilities here and we can make the experience even more enjoyable and make sure people come back.”