The second instalment in our new ‘In our defence..’ series sees Iron fan Dave Spindley review the Iron’s defensive exploits against Oxford.
Saturday saw a much improved performance and result against a well organised and table topping Oxford United.
An unchanged team saw a defence of Gilks in goal, full-backs Levi Sutton and Conor Townsend and central defenders Rory McArdle. As in the second half of the previous home cup game, the players seemed much more comfortable with this formation.
The back four were ably supported as the whole team had to work hard to contain the confident opponents. Special mentions are given to both Bishop and Ojo who were both outstanding when harassing their opponents and breaking up play as Oxford started the game brightly (not surprising from table toppers yet to concede a league goal).
Chances were kept to a minimum until a Jack Payne effort was brilliantly tipped over by Gilks who surprised everyone as the ball seemed destined for the top corner. It wasn’t long before the keeper was making his mark and showing his leadership as he barked instructions, not only to the defence, but to the attackers as he reaffirmed what he needed them to do to aid his distribution. He could then regularly be heard (and seen), giving advice, instructions and encouragement as the team grew into the game.
At right full-back, Levi was again ably deputising for the injured first choice, Jordan Clarke. He worked tirelessly up and down the flank, supporting in attack and covering in defence. Oxford’s left sided attacking options were dealt with capably resulting in them looking to their right as their first option. Levi was quite rightly singled out by the manager in a radio interview after the game for his performance.
On the opposite flank, Conor had to work hard defensively as much of the Oxford build up came down their right. Supported by Josh Morris, the pair did well to limit the quality of delivery into the box. At the same time he overlapped and joined in the attack to good effect, putting in some teasing crosses which had the opposition defence scrambling.
In the middle, the pairing worked well together, winning the vast majority of the headers and shepherding the lively attack. Their developing understanding continues to grow and bodes well for the rest of the season.
In an attempt to secure the win, Cameron Burgess was introduced late in the game, but was able to make a positive contribution in a very short time as he won a couple of strong headers to clear the ball as Oxford probed for the equaliser.
A very pleasing and well deserved clean sheet was the reward for a dominant defensive team effort. Shots on target and corners conceded were kept to a minimum as the team look to build on each positive result.