As the worst season in the Iron’s recent history draws to a close, CambsIron rates the performances of permanent squad members and provides a hopeful take on what the Iron’s squad could look like next season.

GOALKEEPERS

Rory Watson (12 League appearances) – Once again Watson was installed as the club No.1 heading into the new season and he put in a match winning performance at home to Carlisle in September. However, by the end of October Watson had lost his jersey following a series of costly errors and heavy defeats for the Iron. The combination of an inexperienced Goalkeeper playing behind a sometimes very inexperienced defence was not a good one. On average Watson has conceded 1.9 goals a game this season whilst averaging 1.64 goals a game during his time at Scunthorpe. His commitment cannot be questioned, but sadly his all round ability can be. Watson has spoken of a desire to play more games and be a No.1 Goalkeeper either at Scunthorpe or elsewhere. A move away would be perhaps best for all parties involved, the fans would wish him well. Season Rating: 5/10


Mark Howard (33 appearances) – Howard’s arrival in October heralded an up turn in form and defensive stability, he was the experienced Goalkeeper most fans had been requesting. Indeed, the average goals conceded per game dropped to 1.03 with Howard in the sticks. Whilst Howard’s arrival has unquestionably been a success and a key reason why the Iron have survived, there has though been a number of bloopers and a lingering worry in terms of his ability to come for crosses and command his area. He will turn 35 in September and a big decision about his future beckons – are there better options out there which can fit into the budget? Season Rating: 6.5

FULL BACKS

Jordan Clarke (24 appearances, 1 goal) – In terms of games played it has been a positive season for club captain Clarke. The 24 League appearance is his most since the 2017/18 campaign. At times he lacked his usual sharpness and dynamism when playing at Right Back, but he thrived as a make-shift Centre Back as the Iron had a positive February and March.  Scored vital late winner at home to Barrow in December and was lucky not to see red the derby game at Blundell Park. Always a concern fitness wise given the torrid time he has had in previous years, unfortunately injury returned to curtail his season in April. Added experience and determination at the most fruitful times of the season, but given the budget cuts and injury record it’s tough to see Jordan being at the Sands Venue next season. Season Rating 6

Jai Rowe (24 appearances, 1 goal) – Only 19, Rowe has made a healthy 24 appearance this season. Still developing physically and has struggled at times defensively. Rowe has offered little in the way of attacking threat or quality on the ball to often rushing to make the pass, header or clearance and then losing possession. Hasn’t shown enough to prove that he should be a starting League 2 right back next season, perhaps the loan signing of Teddy Howe in January indicates that the Manager thinks the same? Season Rating 5

Mason O’Malley (28 appearances) – A shining light of quality and hope in a dismal season, O’Malley has now made the Left Back spot his own. Showed promise in pre-season games and saw off initial competition for his place from Lewis Butroid with ease. Has quality above League 2 in terms of delivery from set pieces and open play and has shown flashes of ability to make raiding late runs forward. Far from the finished article defensively, but has shown a good attitude and commitment during the club’s dismal April. Received recognition for his form with a Rep of Ireland U21 call up in March. O’Malley turns 20 in March, will the club cash in? Season Rating 7

Junior Brown (14 appearances) – In the midst of dire a October, Brown returned to the club in a scramble to bring in experienced reinforcements. As was the case in his previous spell Brown didn’t let the Iron down, with his arrival coinciding with unlikely away wins at Oldham and Port Vale. His presence allowed the opportunity to rest O’Malley when there was a downturn in the youngsters form or fitness. It’s also worth noting that the Iron only lost 4 of the 14 games Brown played. Should never have been released at the end of 2019/20 season, but will likely be released again this summer due to age and injuries. Season Rating 6

CENTRE BACKS

Manny Onariase (26 appearances, 2 goals) – Onariase has been a key player for the Iron and arguably he has been the pick of the bunch from last summer’s recruitment. Strong in the air and reads the game to a decent level, he was missed when not in the team. Was injured when brought into the club and has suffered with fitness and niggles throughout, perhaps too often asked to play when he simply hasn’t been fit. Has shown enough ability to persist with him at the heart of the defence for another season, especially with a full pre-season behind him. Turns 25 in October, so his peak years are still to come. Season Rating 6

Harrison McGahey (15 appearances, 1 goal) – Simply hasn’t been fit enough and with fitness returning, like Onariase, he has at times been rushed back. McGahey would’ve been a key player in the planning for this season, but 14 appearances has been a frustration for all involved. Having arrived in the 2018/19 League 1 relegation season, McGahey’s time at the club has unfortunately coincided with its decline – through no fault of his own. Out of contract in the summer and will be on his way. Season Rating 4

Jacob Bedeau (33 appearances, 1 goal) –  Without an experienced partner or Goalkeeper and playing with the hapless Tyler Cordner, Bedeau suffered a rocky start to the season with form and decision making suffering. With transfer rumours swirling, the penny appeared to drop with Bedeau in February/March with mistakes largely cut out from his game and him showing a new authority in possession of the football. It’s easy to forget Bedeau is only 21, as such, he is a good asset to keep hold of and a new contract offer seems likely. Whether Bedeau wants to be at the Sands Venue looks debatable. Season Rating 5.5

George Taft (15 appearances)  – A breath of fresh air when he arrived on loan in January, the deal was soon made permanent. Has added experience, balance and height to the back line. Unfortunately, Taft picked up an injury in February and has not looked like the same player upon his speedy return in April. All involved will be hoping a rest and full pre-season sees Taft return to form next season. Career history to dates indicates he is a proven mid-table League 2 performer. Season Rating 6

CENTRE MIDFIELD

Alfie Beestin (39 appearances, 5 goals) – Along with O’Malley, Beestin is the only other U23 graduate (albeit not home grown) to make a telling breakthrough into the first team this season. A surprise package, Beestin has shown an eye for goal and an ability to get on loose balls in and around the penalty area. Decent, but not fully polished on the ball, Beestin needs some work defensively to play centre midfield on a consistent basis. Weak in the air and can leave his partner a lot of ground to cover. Has scored some vital goals and has taken his opportunity this season very well. Season Rating 6.5

Lewis Spence (40 appearances, 1 goal) – An unknown upon arrival Spence has proven to be a combative and busy centre midfield option. Has delivered a handful of eye-catching performances, particularly a Man of the Match showing away at Salford City, but the dynamism shown that day has not always been there. On the ball Spence keeps it simple, perhaps too simple, providing little in the way of attacking impetus or craft. Has struggled for consistency and seen his game time reduced due the arrival of Jem Karacan. Scored a thunderbolt at home to Harrogate in the halcyon days of February. Like Beestin, Spence is under contract for next season, but this season has demonstrated it can really only be either or in the starting X1. Season Rating 6 

Jem Karacan (24 appearances) – Jem’s arrival at the club was met with skepticism by some due to his lack of recent game time – the fans need not have worried. Karacan proved his fitness, quality and commitment to the cause in double quick time and put in a series of standabout performances. The best passer and most composed player on the books; he also provides a degree of nastiness/know how and leadership to the team. Along with Howard, Jem’s arrival played a massive role in the club retaining its League status. He also provided the most honest and honourable moment season with his post match interview at Morecambe. A ‘no brainer’ for the club in terms of offering a new deal, it should’ve been offered  weeks ago, along with the captaincy. The abject performances of April and the lack of an early offer may see Jem want out – who would blame him. Season Rating 7.5

WINGERS

Alex Gilliead (44 appearances, 1 goal) – The captain for the majority of the season and the club’s most consistent performer. The best carrier of the football ball in the team and one of a few that can show composure in first touch and pass. Has seen his attacking threat reduced playing in a more central role at times and has looked leggy as the season has drawn to a close. Out of contract this season, statistically with only 1 goal and 4 assists Gilliead shouldn’t be hard to replace, but in reality he will be. Season Rating 7

Abo Eisa (39 appearances, 9 goals) – 9 goals and 3 assists in 39 appearances is a good return, and in the midst of those stats were a handful or match winning performances and a superb derby day free kick at the Sands Venue. However, despite his ability, Eisa’s play does become predictable and his defensive work off the ball has been inconsistent in terms of desire and intensity. Mid-season comments to the press indicated a lack of focus and commitment, with Eisa seemingly looking forward to getting away in the summer. His goals will be tough to replace especially with budget cuts this summer. Season Rating 6

Devarn Green (35 appearances, 3 goals) – Pace to burn and thus a headache for opposition defences. The key issue with Green has been the quality in his final shot, cross or pass which in the main has not been up to League standard. Physically he looks like he can make the grade, but next season Green will turn 25 and it will be time for more consistent quality and better decision making. He will have big shoes to fill given the pending departures of Eisa and Gilliead. Season Rating 6

Myles Hippolyte (25 appearances, 1 goal) – A goal at Walsall and a 10 minute time-wasting cameo at Bradford were heights of Hippolyte’s opening season at the Iron. A versatile player who shows willing, but League quality is yet to be shown in the main. Hippolyte arrived at the club after Cox so one assumes the manager signed the deal off. The fans will be hoping for more next season and it would be a worry if he was to be a starter come August. Season Rating 4.5

STRIKERS

Ryan Loft (40 appearances, 8 goals) – Had a majestic spell in front of goal in late January and scored a screamer on the opening day. When fit and confident, Loft has shown pace, energy and physicality to unsettle a defence and provide a threat in behind. However, his hold up and link play is not yet up to scratch and too often he seems keen to drop deep rather than lead the line.
At the moment Loft appears to be the epitome of a confidence player, 8 goals in 40 games could easily have been 12-15 if he hadn’t suffered from these slumps. It must also be acknowledged that for a long periods Loft has played as an isolated lone striker in a team lacking composure and quality in the final third. The jury is still out for many, he needs more support and quality around him next season. Season Rating 6

Kevin Van Veen (19 appearances, 1 goal) – The cult hero has had a dismal time this season. Back from injury with a flourish at Oldham, but that proved to be the high point in the season. Like so many others he has suffered badly with injury and then returning to the team too early. Van Veen won’t be rated or remembered on this season, it will be the fond memories of seasons gone by and that knee slide at Blundell Park that will go down in the history books. A quality operator that cares about the club and fans. Season Rating 5

Jordy Hallam (13 appearances, 2 goals) – After Van Veen, Hallam looks to be the best finisher at the club. He grabbed two smart and vital goals (delivering 4 points) in his limited game time this season. However, as all will be aware Hallam’s time at Scunthorpe has been ravaged by injury. As with Olomola, when working to a reduced budget it’s hard to see how a new deal can be justified. Only 22, so has time on his side to come again.  Season Rating 4.5

Aaron Jarvis (13 appearances, 2 goals)  – Looks like a poacher type striker in his stature, but his movement and performances have suggested otherwise. Notched a couple of goals and showed willingness to run the channels, but quality and not having a standout physical attribute (pace, power, height, energy) are a concern. Again, it would be a concern if Jarvis starts as Loft’s strike partner next season. Season Rating 4 

John McAtee (29 appearances, 1 goal) – Hit his stride and showed his capabilities towards the end of the COVID hit 2019/20 season, fan expectations were high this season. Alas McAtee has not delivered and he has spent a season treading water on the fringes of a poor team. A lethargic showing as a substitute at Walsall was tough to swallow for some fans. There is though an argument that the team has not been set up for him to play his game, playing with an AMC the team has struggled leaving McAtee to operate a high as a CF or deep as a CM – with him not a natural in either position. A talent at 21, and has some quality and technical ability in the final third. At an age where a contract offer should be forthcoming. Season Rating 4.5

THE REST

Lewis Butroid (1 appearance) – Made his debut back in 2016/17, Butroid has again failed to impact the first team. Outshone by O’Malley in pre-season, Butroid was out in the cold again by October having made only 1 League sub appearance. A loan move to Hereford appears to have worked well, with Lewis having a trip to Wembley to look forward to. Despite early promise, Butorid has now been not fancied by a series of Managers and will most likely be on his way in the summer. Season Rating n/a

Andy Dales (0 appearances) – Affectionately referred to as ‘Dalesy’ in club interviews, but seldom seen on the pitch. Given the number of injuries, COVID, quality of the squad and form of the squad it’s been even more bizarre that he hasn’t been given an opportunity. Had a nondescript loan spell at Altrincham alongside former Iron badboy Ryan Colclough. Season Rating n/a

George Hornshaw (8 appearances) – A strong pre-season resulted in managerial praise for Hornshaw with fans optimistic that we may see a home grown talent given a chance. Played as a makeshift Right Back in opening games, Hornshaw was clearly uncomfortable. Last seen at Walsall in December and has now disappeared. Season Rating 4

Kenan Dunnwald-Turan (5 appearances)- Signed after what must’ve been a stellar pre-season performance at Watford, however, he has fallen by the wayside after only a handful of appearances. Openly criticised by the Manager, but not really given a fair crack on the pitch for the fans to fully judge. Bizarrely has another year on his deal, but hard to see him being at the club come August. Why? Season Rating 2

Olufela Olomola (5 appearances) – Another season curtailed by injuries, it’s been a sad situation for Fela throughout his time at the Sands Venue. Will move on in the summer with the best wishes of the fans, there is a player in there.  Season Rating 3

Kelsey Mooney (0 appearances) – Probably pipped to the post by KDT as the worst signing of the season (due to KDT’s contract length), Mooney clearly isn’t fancied by the Manager. To be behind Jarvis and KDT in the pecking order at the start of the season says it all. Will be released and a return to Non-League beckons unless his football agent father, Tommy , can pull another rabbit out of the hat. Season Rating n/a

CAMBS IRON’S SQUAD FOR NEXT SEASON

Given the press reports and recent interviews with the club hierarchy, it seems unlikely that Gilliead and Karacan will be at the club next season. Nevertheless the fans live in hope (rather than expectation) and the club has to try their best to retain the services of these two key players. The future of Mark Howard is also a critical call the club needs to get right, if there is nobody better out there he should be retained, but on balance I think there probably is. Whilst six new signings have been mentioned Mr Swann, there is a clear case for at least nine new signings.
GK – EXPERIENCED GK, BACK UP GK, Collins
RB – EXPERIENCED RB, Jai Rowe
LB – Mason O’Malley, EXPERIENCED BACKUP
CD – Manny Onariase, George Taft, Jacob Bedeau, EXPERIENCED BACK UP, Charlie Barks
RM – Alex Gilliead, Devarn Green
LM – WINGER, Myles Hippolyte
CM – Jem Karacan, EXPERIENCED CM, Alfie Beestin, Lewis Spence,
CF – STRIKER, STRIKER, Ryan Loft, John McAtee, Joey Dawson, Harry Jessop
OUT: Howard, Watson, Kelsey, Butroid, Clarke, McGahey, Butroid, Brown, Hornshaw, Dales Eisa, Van Veen, Olomola, Hallam, KDT (potential loan/release), Mooney, Jarvis (potential loan/release)
Enjoy the summer and up the Iron!
CAMSB IRON