The first game in this seasons Checkatrade Trophy saw the Iron line up against Sunderland U21’s with a total of nine changes from the team that were victorious at Plymouth on Saturday. This included the whole of the back five as there were games for Rory Watson in goal, a return from injury for Jordan Clarke at right back, an opportunity for Lewis Butroid at left back with a centre back pairing of Charlie Goode and, captain for the night,Cameron Burgess. One notable inclusion in the Sunderland line up was Jack Rodwell (who must surely regret his move from Everton).
As both teams probed looking for the early opportunity the new defence looked well organised and comfortable as they didn’t have to wait long to take the lead. While Sunderland looked to have some exciting individuals, any threats were dealt with without any major concern.
In goal, while not having a lot to do, Watson looked confident and capable. The saves that he was called upon to make, he made look pretty straightforward. His distribution was good on the whole as he looked to feed his back line and long punts upfield were kept to minimum. Overall, he put in a solid looking performance, his confidence growing as the game developed. There was very little he could have done to prevent the goal the Iron conceded.
Clarke started the game confidently, defending competently and covering well at the same time as taking every opportunity to get forward. Sunderland looked to get the ball wide as Rodwell showed his quality in midfield spraying the ball wide with good effect. The wide man was closed down quickly and there were few opportunities created from width. His partnership with Holmes developed nicely as they worked tirelessly together and supported each other in defence and attack.
On the other flank, Butroid performed competently without being spectacular. It was clear he was focused on his defensive duties as his attacking contribution was limited, partly due to the attacking threat from the opposition. He demonstrated good positional play and tracked the runners with consistency. He worked well with his central defensive partner as they combined to stifle any threats quickly and effectively. When in possession, he tended to look downfield first instead of playing through midfield, so the outcome was mixed.
In the centre, Goode and Burgess were dominant in the air, but were more stretched when the smaller, nippier opposition front line interchanged quick passes. Communication seemed effective as the Captain marshalled his defensive colleagues. Defensively, Goode looked solid and worked hard to nullify any threat quickly, however his attacking limitations were noticeable again, and his distribution was normally a long ball into the channels with limited effect.
Burgess looked more confident on the ball, looking to feed the ball on the floor either into midfield or to the wing. The only time either of the pair looking wary was when they were being run at directly as the looked for someone to take responsibility for closing down. Indeed, this was the reason for the goal conceded as the attacker was allowed to cut in from the right before unleashing a quality strike.
The defensive unit can be satisfied with their performance both individually and as a group. It would have been nice to have kept a clean sheet, but it’s reassuring to know that we have a solid ‘second’ back four, each of whom could step in and do a job if and when they are needed.