Who’s next? Fleetwood – hopefully not a banana skin


After Stamford Bridge, now we’re playing at Highbury. Unfortunately, that’s the Fleetwood version, the smallest stadium in League One, where we travel in hope of another three points to boost our late play-off push.

However, this is Scunthorpe United we’re talking about, and it would be deflatingly typical if, having beaten promotion-pushing Coventry, Southend and Millwall, we were to lose to a team fourth from bottom of the table whose last league victory was six games ago.

Maybe, though, this is a different United. Finally rid of the previous self-doubt and as shown at Millwall, able at last to hold on to a lead under pressure. In which case, extending our winning run to five games under Daws(son) and moving closer to the play-offs should be more than possible.

The other Cod Army are having an awful season under manager Steven Pressley and took drastic measures during the January transfer window to improve a striking rate of just 34 goals scored in 29 league games. They swooped to bring in former Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi, 34, after he left Championship side Bolton because they could not offer him a new deal in their current parlous financial situation.

According to Pressley, “He gives us a focal point we can counter from. But it’s not just his performance. In the dressing room before the game and at half-time he’s got a voice and he’s a really important character. I really believe he’s going to be a brilliant signing for us.”

This week Fleetwood also added Bristol City striker Wes Burns on loan and the Wales Under-21 international, who has scored one goal in 17 appearances for the Robins this season, could make his debut against us.

Another part of Fleetwood’s problem this season has been the number of injuries, with up to five first-team players out at one point. Gradually they are coming back, the latest being former Chesterfield midfielder Jimmy Ryan who is hoping to return against us. There could also be other new faces in the team for the game as Pressley looks to bring in a full-back and centre-half.

One other crumb of comfort for Fleetwood is that although they are fourth bottom of the table, they have two games in hand on all the other clubs in that bottom seven bar Oldham.

Having said all that, however – and hopefully this isn’t tempting fate – we should be expecting to pick up all three points up on the Lancashire coast.

One of Fleetwood’s most famous former players is, of course, Jamie Vardy, and there was an interesting tale this week in the Newcastle Chronicle about how the striker’s path to the top could have been totally different had it not been for the persistence of the former Leeds defender Neil Aspin.

Aspin, when manager of Halifax, had been tipped off about this young striker Vardy playing for non-league Stocksbridge Park Steels. However, the only games Aspin could get to in order to scout him were in midweek and every time Aspin turned up, Vardy was never in the team.

Puzzled, Aspin eventually sought out the reason. Which was, that Vardy was on a 6pm curfew after getting involved in a spot of bother ‘defending’ a mate outside a pub which led to a criminal conviction for assault.

In weekend games Stocksbridge even had to pull him off after 60 minutes so he could get home in time for the curfew. Aspin eventually saw Vardy in pre-season, immediately recognised his talent, signed him up and the rest, as they say, is history.

Our Nige is starting to struggle with his other SUFC project. Just one win in the last five games leaves his blunted Blades five points of the play-offs, just one point ahead of us and we have a game in hand.#

Sheffield United’s latest setback came on Tuesday with a 1 -0 defeat at Bury which was so bad – just three attempts on goal with not one troubling the keeper – that one player even felt the need to publicly apologise.

Nigel, your halo is slipping.

Written by Matt Blanchard

Part of the team since 2007, before becoming editor in 2013. Undertaken the role of match summariser during Scunthorpe United live match commentaries for BBC Radio Humberside. Seasonal contributor to football titles FourFourTwo and When Saturday Comes and a finalist at the Football Blogging Awards in 2014.

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