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Opinion: Analysing the Iron defensively and offensively against Posh

Scunthorpe’s defence failed to hold firm once again as they fell to defeat against deserved winners Peterborough on Saturday.

Although the Iron had decent spells in the game, they never really tested Posh too much as they lacked ruthlessness in the final third of the field.

On the other hand, Steve Evans’ side were a professional outfit, who bided their time, worked opportunities and put them away when it really mattered. The away side were the better team over the 90 minutes.

Analysing Scunthorpe defensively

First half: United didn’t actually have a bad first half on the defensive end. They limited the time Jason Cummings and Matt Godden had on the ball, particularly in and around the penalty area. The two centre-halves were dominant in the air and, dare I say it, the defence looked reasonably comfortable.

Alongside Charlie Goode and Rory McArdle, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Jordan Clarke didn’t have to do an awful lot at full-back, as Posh really struggled to get anything going before the break. In midfield, Funso Ojo and Matty Lund pressed well and didn’t allow the Peterborough’s central midfielders any real freedom on the ball.

Second half: It all changed after half-time, though. The Iron stopped doing the simple things and allowed Posh to get a foothold on the game. The first 15 minutes would be absolutely crucial and the Scunthorpe defence really let the side down in this period.

For Matt Godden’s first goal, the whole defence, barring Goode, should have done much better. To begin with, Clarke, without any help from the right winger, failed to stop the cross coming into the box. McArdle made a miserable attempt at clearing the ball, before Alnwick let the ball run across his six-yard box, to reach the foot of an unmarked Godden, who Borthwick-Jackson had just let go. Criminal from all of them.

Then just seven minutes later, after Posh had already been pushing for a second, Godden notched another goal. This time Goode was at fault. The striker was afforded too much time on the edge of the area and managed to hit his shot into the bottom corner of the net. Alnwick will not need telling that he should have done an awful lot better with his attempted parry.

As the game wore on, the defence looked increasingly unconvincing. If Posh didn’t take their foot off the gas or had taken a couple of opportunities better, it could have been embarrassing for United and their defence.

Analysing Scunthorpe offensively

First half: The Iron were probably the more likely side to open the scoring in the first half, as they had more opportunities with the ball in offensive areas. That being said, they did not use the ball anywhere near good enough. Too many people were focused on being the hero and took shots that simply were not on, from tight angles or areas where they really should have been looking to play the pass. The 18 shots attempted, with just four of those on target, says it all.

Ryan Colclough did look dangerous and he had the Posh left-back exactly where he wanted him, on the backfoot and uncomfortable making challenges on the tricky winger. But when the midfielder did get into good areas, he regularly made the wrong option, instead opting for a shot.

Stephen Humphrys and Lee Novak, despite Scunthorpe being the better side, failed to have much of an impact in the first half. Let’s be honest, neither of the two are out and out goalscorers and it showed yesterday. They spent most of the first half too far apart, as Novak looked to come short and Humphrys had already made a run out wide or in behind.

Josh Morris was certainly not at his best. The winger never really got into the game and his delivery was quite poor. As for the central midfielders, the application was there from Ojo, as he tried to play balls through but they didn’t really come off. Matty Lund put himself about, but never got into threatening areas in the first half.

Second half: Things only got worse after the break. The two early goals for Posh seemed to deflate the Iron going forward and they ended the game on a whimper.

For some reason, Colclough switched to the left for the entire second half, even though he had the beating of the opposition left-back throughout the majority of the first half. After that switch, the youngster looked uncomfortable hitting the flank on his left foot and was extremely quiet for the rest of the game.

It was a similar story for the strikers in the second half as it had been before the break. The communication just doesn’t seem to be there when they do get into decent areas. The pair can be good separately, but it just isn’t working together.

Andy Dales came on and tried his best, but by the time he started getting on the ball, the game was already dead. Then the arrival of Cameron Burgess screamed desperation. The Iron hoofed the ball forward long to the makeshift centre-forward, which he made very little of.

All in all, a poor day for the Iron. There were some good signs in the first half, at both ends of the field, but an incredibly disappointing second half display overshadowed that. You can see our players rating from the game here.


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Written by James Murray

Aspiring journalist and Scunthorpe United fan studying at the London South Bank University.

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