Alex Cole (@alex_scunny) reflects on the opening 4 games as the Iron have come flying out of the traps.
Will the real Scunthorpe United please stand up? Here we are, after the 4th round of fixtures and we’re not sat in the relegation zone!
For once the pre season optimism has transferred onto the pitch and the Iron currently sit top of the table, scoring an impressive 10 goals and conceding just two in the process.
You could’ve been forgiven at half time of the opening game at Tamworth for thinking it was another false dawn, as the Iron were battered and bruised by their fired-up hosts. As it transpired, it was perhaps our first glimpse of a new Scunthorpe United as we turned the game on its head and fought back impressively to win 2-1.
Boss Jimmy Dean has found a system to suit the expensively assembled squad of players signed in the summer and deserves enormous credit for beginning to answer the doubts that were asked of him last season. Furthermore, in the face of off field adversity he’s ensured nothing has spilled out onto the pitch so far.
They say consistency breeds success and Jimmy has been able to field an unchanged team for the past three games, which can surely be one of the factors attributed to this good start.
On the pitch, keeper Ross Fitzsimons looks set to be one of the best signings of recent times. Over the past five years we have had many ‘keepers take the gloves at Glanford Park. At times it has almost been a poisoned chalice but Fitzsimons looks an outstanding keeper making saves at crucial times in every game so far. Commanding and experienced, we can feel safe with him in our goal.
In defence, Will Evans and Maxim Kouogun have formed an impressive partnership with both looking impressive in the air. At fullback, Tyler Denton has also impressed with his reading of the game, ability on the ball and tenacity off it and topped off his displays so far with the most sublime of goals at the weekend.
A word on Alfie Beestin too. After a difficult few years, it has been so pleasing to watch him glide about the pitch and return to form with a couple of goals to boot. Providing the injury picked up on the final whistle against Rushall isn’t too serious, long may that continue.
I questioned in my season preview as to whether Danny Whitehall or Elliott would be chosen to lead the line. As predicted, Elliott did indeed start the season however Whitehall quickly took over as soon as his deflected overhead kick found the net at Tamworth. He has kicked on from that, and despite a penalty miss has scored four in four, leading the line impressively throughout.
Although it’s slightly embarrassing we find ourselves at his level, what is never embarrassing is winning games of football. We’ve been conditioned into losing over the past five years and to get that winning culture back is so important. If it has taken dropping to this level to find that, then so be it.
We have found it difficult for periods of games, especially in the away fixtures at Tamworth and Rushall Olympic. We’ve probably not been as fluent as we may have hoped, but these were two tough games against newly promoted teams on the dreaded artificial pitches. The fact we’ve come through with six points speaks about the new born spirt within this Scunthorpe United side.
There is no doubt however that there will be bigger tests ahead and we will have to improve to keep picking up those points on the road.
I’ve seen enough in the two home games to see that if we’re to remain at Glanford Park we won’t have too many problems to face at our ground. Having completely controlled both games with chances aplenty, performances of a similar ilk will see us win a lot of games there this season.
You could also argue a number of the ten goals scored have been rather fortunate and we have got the rub of the green at crucial times in games. We cannot rely on this luck forever and will need the goals to come more naturally as the games progress.
This is not a criticism, but an observation that will hopefully be quietened soon enough. The 3rd goal against Darlington was certainly not luck and we certainly could see more goals like that in the near future with the talent Dean has at his disposal.
With momentum and excitement growing amongst the fan base we sadly cannot ignore the huge court case the club faces at the end of this month. If the case doesn’t go our way, it’s very hard to see how the implications will not be catastrophic.
Financially, the club’s income will almost certainly drop substantially which could mean huge problems further down the line. Sportingly, the club would also lose its home advantage which will be so crucial for getting out of this division at the first time of asking.
Jimmy Dean acknowledged the off field issues for the first time after Saturday’s win, which shows how crucial a period the club are entering.
Things are looking good on the pitch and we can only hope things go our way off the pitch too, otherwise the good work so far is at risk of being undone.
Up the Iron