Iron bid to halt slide
JUST as Colchester United have been on the way up during the last three months, so Scunthorpe United have been tumbling in the opposite direction.The Iron were preparing for a season of struggle, having clinched promotion from League Two last May, but they began the campaign in positive fashion and, for a while, looked genuine play-off candidates.
By Carl Marston
JUST as Colchester United have been on the way up during the last three months, so Scunthorpe United have been tumbling in the opposite direction.
The Iron were preparing for a season of struggle, having clinched promotion from League Two last May, but they began the campaign in positive fashion and, for a while, looked genuine play-off candidates.
The downward spiral kicked in during the autumn, although the Lincolnshire club have steadied the ship in and around the Christmas period.
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They may have only won one of their last seven league fixtures but they defeated in-form Nottingham Forest 3-1 at Glanford Park before Christmas and bounced back from two-down to draw 2-2 with visiting Chesterfield on Boxing Day.
Billy Sharp has been the danger-man. Sharp has proved himself to be one of the hottest properties in League One, plundering 16 goals - three more than U's leading scorer Chris Iwelumo.
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The 19-year-old, who was signed from Sheffield United last summer, never started a league game for the Blades, although he did score nine goals in just 16 appearances while on loan at Rushden & Diamonds during the second half of last term.
Sharp is set to lead the front-line at Layer Road this evening alongside fellow 19-year-old Andrew Keogh, who has nine goals to his name. Dubliner Keogh, a six-footer, graduated from the youth team ranks at Leeds United.
Veteran striker Tommy Johnson, always a useful player to have on the bench, confirmed his supersub credentials by netting a last-minute equaliser against Chesterfield, which prevented the Spireites from usurping Colchester's position in the top six.
Johnson, who has played for the likes of Derby, Aston Villa and Celtic during his career, swept home the rebound after keeper Barry Roche could only block Neil MacKenzie's shot. Earlier, Ian Baraclough had given Scunthorpe hope with a 30-yard shot to halve the deficit.
Manager Brian Laws, despite this late equaliser, was not particularly happy. He insisted: “We should have won. We should have taken our chances.”
The Iron were knocked out of the LDV Vans Trophy at the regional quarter-final stage by Conference hosts Hereford United (2-0), but they have a glamorous FA Cup third round tie to look forward to at Premiership club Manchester City.