After a miserable December and January, very early green shoots of hope came to the surface for Iron fans on Saturday as Grimsby were outplayed in a comprehensive 3-0 derby victory.
As the saying goes ‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer’ and indeed there continues to be much to scrutinise on and off the pitch at the Sands Venue, but for this weekend at least supporters can have a spring in their step and allow a sense of hope and local pride to enter their mindset.
The level of commitment, desire, energy and intent shown by the men in claret and blue was at levels not seen since November. Credit for the win must go to Cox, after much justified criticism this season his team selection, shape and tactics were on point. A revitalised Abo Eisa and Ryan Loft set the tone from the front and deservedly grabbed their goals.
In the middle of the pitch the partnership of Karacan and Beestin showed real promise, with the ex Galatasaray man providing much needed stability and guile; and Beestin displaying great energy and tenacity to get around the pitch in the faces of the beleaguered Grimsby players.
Whilst still very early in his official tenure and with his level of involvement in the poor summer recruitment still subject to obvious speculation, credit should also perhaps start to go to the club’s new Chief Scout, Will Swann. The signings of Taft and Karacan have already impacted the starting X1 positively and both were excellent in the derby day victory.
On Monday night the Chairman stated that the summer ‘recruitment could’ve been worse’, whilst this appeared to be a flippant throwaway remark to deflect the line of questioning (please get the Chairman some PR training), the strengthening of the forward line was totally inadequate (four strikers, with 9 goals in English professional football between them) and remains a key matter for the club to address in what remains of January.
On Saturday evening, Iron players and staff swarmed social media to toast their fine victory. The players and staff were right and justified to enjoy the moment, but they must remember how the derby was won and reflect on the dire performances over the Christmas period – and ask why? This should hurt the players, but frequently this season Neil Cox’s side have put on displays very similar to that offered by Grimsby in the derby defeat.
Too often, both home and away, basic mental attributes and energy levels have not been on show from the players. Indeed, the team’s ability to grind out a draw (2 draws in 24) or come from behind in games is shown to be almost non-existent in the season stats, which needs to be rectified in the closing months of the season to help ensure survival.
It will irk a lot of Iron fans to hear this, but now is the time to offer praise and support to the players and management in the hope that this praise and the derby victory inspires enough confidence to get 50 points on board.
As the Iron don’t do draws this season, it looks like a minimum of 8 wins is required from remaining 22 games. The returning Kevin Van Veen together with a couple more January signings should see the Iron through to survival – vital ingredients in the rest of the season.
When all fit, there is a core of 10-12 players in the squad good enough to get the points required but based on the season to date it’s very difficult to see a cruise to survival in March/April.
It’s going to be a struggle, but the pressure that was on this derby day win demonstrates there is definite hope for the Iron to build upon.
Up the Iron.