Scunthorpe United will be determined to push on from their strong end to last season by aiming for promotion to the Championship this term. The Iron enjoyed a resurgence in the second half of 2015/16, finishing outside the playoffs in seventh place only on goal difference.
The team one spot above them in the table – Barnsley – went on to triumph to win promotion to the second tier by defeating Millwall at Wembley. Scunthorpe will have therefore taken heart from the fact that they were not far off from a return to Championship football for the first time in five years.
As a result, the latest League One betting markets back Graham Alexander’s men at 5/2 to win promotion back to the second tier of English football, especially given their solid start to the term. At the start of the last campaign United were aiming to build on their solid return to League One following their promotion from the fourth division in 2014.
Scunthorpe were to struggle in the early stages, losing six of their 10 opening fixtures, including a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. They appeared to turn the corner in October by winning five of their next six matches, but a run of two wins in their next 10 halted their progress.
Mark Robins paid the price for his side’s inconsistent form as he was sacked by the club, resulting in Nick Daws taking over until the arrival of Alexander on a permanent basis. The Iron had an immediate upturn in results under Daws, winning four on the spin before falling to a 2-1 defeat to Fleetwood Town. The club continued to be solid before the former Scotland international was appointed on March 22.
Under Alexander the surge towards the playoffs was on as United carved apart Swindon Town in his first match in charge, although a defeat to Bradford City at Valley Parade followed. The loss to the Bantams would be the final time the Iron dropped points in the campaign, taking a maximum 18 points from their remaining six matches, but it proved not to be enough to sneak into the playoffs.
Alexander made savvy additions over the summer, including the signing of Josh Morris from Bradford on a free transfer to bolster his midfield, while Harry Toffolo and Richard Smallwood were added in loan deals on deadline day. Morris has hit the ground running in the early stages of the campaign with four goals, including a brace in United’s 5-0 hammering of Gillingham.
The Iron continued their strong start to the season with an excellent 4-0 victory over Southend at Glanford Park. Paddy Madden and Kevin van Veen put them on their way, while Morris maintained his run of goals with a strike early in the second period before Richard Smallwood put the icing on the cake.
Scunthorpe have shown the form of promotion candidates in their opening six matches, winning three of their contests. The only blemish thus far has been their defeat to Port Vale, although Jordan Clarke’s dismissal in the second half played a huge role in the loss.
Alexander has been extremely successful in his brief time at the club, and should they maintain the level of play since his arrival, especially in front of goal, United could well be on course for a return to the Championship.