Well after all the build up and excitement of recent games, what a massive let down that was…
- Rovers started lively but were soon deflated by Madden’s 20th minute goal. While there was more than a touch of offside about his close range finish, the ball should never have been allowed to get as far as the back post in the first place. Alcock had diverted a similar cross behind for a corner only moments earlier and this should have been a warning sign.
- Following the goal Rovers really were woeful with nobody having the confidence to bring the ball down and try and play it. Rovers attacking trimutive of Williams, Tyson and Grant were completely marked out of the game.
- Rovers were ponderous in possession allowing a sea of yellow to engulf any player who did find himself in a decent position. In comparison the Iron often found themselves in acres of space and if anyone looked like scoring before half time, it was the visitors.
- Harry Middleton has been excellent during Rovers resurgence but this perhaps was a game too far for the young midfielder. Too often he was overran in the middle of the park and it probably came as a relief to him when he was sacrificed at half time for Paul Keegan.
- Rovers started the second half brightly with Keegan offering a calming presence in midfield and Copps finally leading by example (the least you would expect of your captain in a local derby) with some excellent passes as well as a couple of good tackles.
- Nobody comes close to Paul Keegan in the tackling stakes though and one particular cruncher just inside Scunthorpe’s half was almost the catalyst for a Rovers come back as the Black Bank roared its approval.
- Further substitutions followed and while Stewart and N’guessan were an improvement on Lund and Tyson it always felt like an equalizer would be just beyond Rovers grasp. Cameron Stewart came closest with his long range, curling effort thumping off the bar and out for a goal kick. Not our day.
- Andy Butler is an excellent defender but in a formation that calls for quick, counter attacking football, his lack of any kind of actual footballing ability is becoming a problem. Too many times Butler headed blindly forward when he had the time to bring the ball down and play it.
- Whilst it jars against Rovers perceived dominance in the second half, Scunthorpe actually had more possession and more shots on target than Rovers over 90 minutes. A more telling statistic is Scunthorpe’s 3 bookings and 13 fouls compared to 0 bookings and 7 fouls for Rovers. It may not have been pretty but local derby’s rarely are. Which side truly wanted it more?
James Coppinger – Probably Copps best 45 minutes of football since the glorious second half against Leeds as he took the game by the scruff of the neck and almost grabbed Rovers an equalizer with his excellent turn and volley that was well saved by Luke Daniels.
Paul Keegan – Calm, assured, accurate passing. It remains to be seen whether Paul Keegan has the legs to fit in to Darren Ferguson’s 5-3-2 formation but on this evidence, Middleton should receive a well deserved rest against Oldham on Monday.
The Black Bank – Despite Rovers turgid first half performance the Black Bank never stopped singing. Obviously buoyed by recent events against Crewe and Burton, the Rovers fans remained vocal right until the end.
Scunthorpe’s defence – Probably the best defensive performance I have seen all season. Scunthorpe pressed high, gave Rovers no time on the ball and formed a yellow brick wall at the penalty spot even as Rovers surged forward more and more. Pains me to say it but a deserved win the Iron.
Conor Grant – Something had to give with the Everton loanee’s mightily impressive recent performances and sure enough he was totally anonymous against Scunthorpe on boxing day. With his talent you would think this is a blip rather than a downturn in form however.
Mitchell Lund – Despite playing some of his best football, Lund has been subbed in each of Rovers last three games. You feel that as soon as Ferguson finds a replacement, the youngster will have to settle for a place on the bench.
Nathan Tyson – Cut a frustrated figure throughout and other than one first half surge offered little against a resolute Scunthorpe defence. Could have been sent off for a petulant kick out just before being hauled off by Ferguson. A world apart from his hat trick in this same fixture last season.