As Nathan Smith rolled round the back of Alex Gillead to head in on 78 minutes yesterday afternoon, most watching on, including myself, thought the Iron were heading for yet another disappointing away defeat on the road.
But substitute and subsequent saviour George Miller did just enough to get on the end of a wonderful John McAtee delivery to give the Iron a share of the spoils at Vale Park and in my opinion, deservedly so.
But what did we learn from yesterday’s battling away performance in Staffordshire?
The formation dilemma
Formation wise, I don’t like the way the 5-4-1 plays out both with and without the ball for us. Alex Gillead as we all know is much better when deployed out wide aiming to get as much chalk on his boots as possible but when the Iron are without the ball, I feel he is a very different player.
Add that to playing him more centrally, it doesn’t work. I fully understand the Iron are extremely light on numbers and have been for large parts of this season. We are especially, in the middle of the park, even with the addition of Middlesborough loanee Ben Liddle. In my opinion, Russ Wilcox must revert back to either 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 away at Swindon on Tuesday evening.
Jordan Gabriel and Lewis Butroid both had difficult games at wing backs on either side of the pitch, as David Amoo especially in the first half constantly testing the young full back Butroid. It was Amoo’s initial delivery into the Iron’s box that was knocked back by Gillead resulting in the hosts taking the lead. Sloppy and statue like defending to say the least…
A big miss was most certainly Harrison McGahey too, as I feel his ability to bring the ball out of the back four at times is something the Iron need in order to generate attacking phases of play, something not in the capabilities of Rory McArdle and Andy Butler.
Attacking wise, it was another quiet afternoon for the clubs leading scorer and fans favourite Kevin van Veen as he was forced off to be replaced by Miller in the 53rd minute holding his groin as he exited the field. Something all of us Iron fans can agree hope isn’t as serious as first seems.
James Perch was again okay but I feel he requires somebody more creative either in front or beside him to make the Iron tick a little bit better with a touch more urgency going forward especially. Liddle was okay when he was introduced but I feel we are yet to see his full potential in an Iron shirt. The same can also be said about new signing Devarn Green, who looked very lively when he was introduced for Abo Eisa just before half time.
Green cleverly picked up the ball and charged at the Vale defence before sliding in Gillead for the equaliser on 71′ and is someone I would definitely like to see more of heading into the latter stages of the campaign, at the end of the day, what have we really got to loose?
What next for Russ?
As the home re-run of derby day fast approaches next weekend and the short matter of league leaders Swindon in a couple of days time too, games are again coming thick and fast and losing both Kev and Eisa yesterday afternoon isn’t an ideal situation interim boss Russ Wilcox will have hoped to of faced.
It does however mean Wilcox may have to delve further into the U23’s pool once again, could we see the introduction of Yasin Ben El-Mhanni for one of the first times this season at some point. Again it begs the question of, what’s the worst that could happen?
He’s very much a forgotten man it seems at Scunthorpe as he has spent most of the campaign featuring in the development squad. But if Abo Eisa and Ryan Colclough face lengthy spells on the sidelines again I would personally like to see some of the flair that he often showreels on his social media pages.
A midfield headache
If Levi Sutton is fit and able come Tuesday evening I fully expect him to rejoin Perch in the middle of midfield as it is no secret how much Russ is a fan of the 22-year-olds capabilities.
Yann Songo’o still looks to be regain some of his match sharpness with appearances in the U23 now coming thick and fast after a lengthy spell on the sidelines. He is yet to feature since his set back in the 1-0 away win at Blundell Park back in December.
In my opinion Yann is someone we could most definitely do with come next Saturday lunchtime, a player who does the dirty work and could be pivotal in allowing our attacking players to hurt Town going forward.
Attendances and atmospheres will of course be raised once again as we look to complete a league double over the Mariners, but we must be up for it from the off. Can Wilcox ignite a passion and fire we have been lacking as of late? I guess only time will tell.