Can nearly-men Scunthorpe United win promotion from League One?
Scunthorpe United have been short on luck in the past two seasons. In 2015-16, the Iron missed out on a play-off spot to Barnsley on goal difference alone. A year later, they blew a second-leg lead to Millwall in the play-off semis.
So fans of the Iron won’t be getting ahead of themselves just yet. But with the side currently on course for a play-off spot, there are reasons to believe this could be their time for promotion…
Knocking on the Daws of promotion
It’s exactly a month since the Scunthorpe board gave Graham Alexander his marching orders after more than two years in charge. Many were surprised, but so far the appointment of Nick Daws as caretaker boss looks like a smart move.
Previously Alexander’s assistant, the 48-year-old knows this squad very well. But he’s also added a new dimension to the side since taking the job – with instant results.
Under his stewardship, the Iron have tightened up at the back. They’ve conceded just twice in four games, with back-to-back wins to nil against Charlton Athletic and Walsall in the last two matches.
He’s not made any crazy changes, sticking with the side’s tried and tested 4-4-2 formation. But the whole side look more organised, underpinned by the solid centre-back pairing of captain Rory McArdle and Murray Wallace.
And history suggests it could be a good system. In 2015-16 Barnsley won promotion through the League One play-offs after bringing in Paul Heckingbottom as caretaker boss.
While the Glanford Park club were narrowly beaten by Millwall in last year’s play-offs, the big-game experience will likely have provided good experience for the Iron players.
Key men from last season like Josh Morris, Tom Hopper and Hakeeb Adelakun have continued to play a big part for the Lincolnshire club this term. And on this point, history is again on Scunthorpe’s side.
Their conquerors last term, Millwall, had lost the previous season’s play-off final before going on to secure promotion at the second time of asking.
Added to that is the fact that Scunthorpe have a healthy record against some of their potential play-off contenders.
Head-to-Head record and run-in
For starters, their victory over Charlton Athletic 10 days ago ensured the Iron did the double over the Addicks this term. They’ve also lost just two of the last 17 meetings with Shrewsbury Town.
Their play-off spot isn’t quite confirmed yet, but Daws’ men have it all in their own hands – and a kind run in.
Next up is a trip to seemingly relegation-doomed MK Dons on Saturday. The Dons have lost four on the trot, and it’s 23/20 for an Iron victory.
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