Scunthorpe United v Doncaster Rovers: ‘Iron aren’t safe by any means’ – the opposition view?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The big games keep on coming for Doncaster Rovers and next up is the small matter of a local derby

Tuesday, 19th February 2019, 11:40 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th February 2019, 11:42 pm
Stuart McCall

The prospect of a third win of the season against Scunthorpe United is a tantalising one but Iron are a much-improved outfit since December’s 3-0 win for Rovers at the Keepmoat.

We spoke to the Scunthorpe Telegraph’s Iron reporter Paul Crute to find out about the upturn in form.

Q: Scunthorpe's form has certainly picked up since the last meeting between the two sides. What do you put the upturn down to?

PC: It is hard to pin it down as it is virtually the same group of players that are playing since the teams last met.

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We brought in eight new players and results have improved, although Tony McMahon and to a lesser extent Harrison McGahey have been the only two new signings that have commanded a regular starting spot, otherwise it is the same group of players McCall had when he came in. 

Maybe the fact that the new players came in put pressure on the players in the side to up their performances.

The defence looks a lot more solid with Rory McArdle looking more settled with former Bradford team mate Tony McMahon alongside him.

The luck has also been with them with a couple of goals coming from either goalkeeping errors of deflected shots.

They ground out a scrappy 1-0 win against Wycombe just before New Year and that was the kind of win they needed to try and build on and they have done just that.

Of course with the wins, confidence has also returned to the squad, which was understandably low before the winning run.   

Q: Has the threat of relegation passed now in your view?

PC: Not at all. Although we sit in 14th place at the moment we are only seven points above the bottom four so are not safe by any means. A couple of defeats and we could be right back in trouble.

The bottom half of the league is really tight so plenty is bound to happen over the next few months.

After the Doncaster game, Scunthorpe face Oxford and Bristol Rovers and will be hoping to get positive results from those matches to put more distance between themselves and the bottom four.

McCall's first target will be to get to the 50-point mark - we are currently on 40 - and then they can maybe breath a little easier. 

Q: Has Stuart McCall won over supporters?

PC: As Stuart McCall came in without much time in the transfer market, the majority of fans were willing to give him until the end of the January transfer window at least to see how he could do.

During January, results took a massive upturn, as McCall won 13 points out of a possible 15 which saw him get the manager of the month award. This was on the back of seven straight defeats.

I don't think there was any major pressure on McCall and I think many felt he was right for the job. The fans were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until the end of January and he delivered in terms of bringing in new players and getting the results. 

If results hadn't improved during January, then it might have been a different story. 

Q: What system and style of play does McCall favour?

PC: McCall likes to change his formation regularly so it is anyone's guess!

In the last two games he has played a 3-4-1-2 formation but performances with that style have not been great. 

They beat Accrington 2-0 but McCall only described the performance as average, while the display against Gillingham was very flat.

He may revert back to a 4-4-2 diamond now that James Perch is back from suspension, with Perch playing as the defensive midfielder and George Thomas in the hole behind the strikers which is his best position compared to out wide. However, if we went back to this formation he may have to forego a bit of width.

Q: Who are the dangermen for Scunthorpe?

PC: If they play together Kyle Wootton and Lee Novak who both play upfront.

The duo have built up a great partnership over the last couple of months and both seem to have a great understnading.

Lee Novak has 11 goals for the season, although missed last weekend's loss against Gillingham in a bid to get him back up to full fitness.

Meanwhile Wootton has been developing into a really good player alongside Novak and does hold the ball up well.