Silverware eludes Iron again
Playing at Wembley Stadium. It’s what every youngster up and down the country dreams of. Perhaps pulling on the white jersey with three lions on your chest, or else leading your club to its first silverware in decades in a thrilling cup final.
No Scunthorpe United fan really thinks that the Iron can lift the League or FA Cup this season, but thanks to our drop down the divisions, we should have been challenging for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Alan Knill’s men had a great start in the first round thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win over Hartlepool, back when Bobby Grant was in scoring form. However, a month and a bit down the line, the goals up front have dried up, and the attacking trio of Grant, Nicky Ajose, and Andy Barcham all squandered opportunities at home to Oldham on Tuesday night. Shefki Kuqi’s goal for the visitors proved the difference, and with that, fans’ hopes of a Wembley cup final appearance were gone.
Knill has said that Ajose isn’t quite match fit yet, and that looked the case, as he sometimes struggled to get into the game. Perhaps he should’ve been kept to cameo roles for the time being, because on the basis of Tuesday’s start, he’s not really offering any sort of attacking alternative to Grant or Dagnall.
Ajose is still only nineteen, and delivered the goods at Bury, but until he looks comfortable, he shouldn’t be starting in the cup or in the league.
Last weekend’s 2-1 victory at Stevenage came with many positives. Goals are still coming in from various parts of the field, and it was great to see Eddie Nolan get his first for the club. Now that Northern Ireland international Michael O’Connor has found the net, hopefully he can keep scoring, just like last season.
Mostly, the game showed the determined nature of the players. Stevenage pushed hard for an equaliser, but the defence held strong. It was a grind at times to keep them from scoring, but the performance of the back four can’t be faulted, and Sam Johnstone had his best game at the club so far.
Hopefully Knill will keep him on once Lillis comes back from injury, because it’s nice to have two quality goalkeepers for a change. Johnstone looked much more assured, and commanded his defenders well. He’s going on to do great things, that youngster. Hopefully they’ll be with Scunthorpe.