Following Saturday’s gritty 2-2 draw at play-off candidates Port Vale, the Iron now face the formidable task of travelling to face top of the table Swindon Town in the re-arranged fixture, writes Owen Slipp.
The clash comes at a perfect time for Richie Wellens’ side who find key players returning from injury, after their game at Mansfield on Saturday was one of the fixtures to fall victim to Storm Jorge.
Unbeaten in their last four games since the 3-1 loss at Colchester at the back end of January, the Robins will be looking to extend their gap at the top of League Two and push closer to a return to League One 3 years after their relegation.
With a strike force containing the country’s top scorer in the form of Eoin Doyle, coupled with League Two’s second best defensive record, expect to see Swindon Town make the jump up in divisions come the end of the season.
Russ Wilcox’s side travel down hoping to produce what would be their biggest scalp of the season, and with 7 points from the last 12 available find themselves in lukewarm form. If the task of going to the league leaders and trying to get some form of a result wasn’t already tough enough, the side will be without two of their key men in Abo Eisa and Kevin Van Veen. Both having picked up worrying injuries at Vale Park – the latter of which is now deemed to not be as bad as initially perceived.
This presents opportunities for players waiting on the sidelines to come in and make their mark – none more so than Devarn Green and George Miller following their exploits at the weekend. Green, replacing the injured Eisa late in the first half gave the iron an extra dimension going forward and produced an excellent assist for the first equaliser. Miller finally got his first goal for the club in dramatic fashion to rescue the side a well earned point, a goal that should give the Barnsley loanee a big boost in confidence.
The injury to Eisa could also pave the way for Yasin Ben El-Mhanni to make his long awaited return to the first team squad – something looking all the more likely following his absence from the u23s for Monday’s fixture against Doncaster Rovers.
The form of club captain Andy Butler appears to have been rejuvenated under Wilcox’s tenure. He will have to continue his recent good run of form to help the defence try and find a way to shut out the league’s most potent strike force in Eoin Doyle and Jerry Yates.
Wilcox may turn to Cameroonian midfielder Yann Songo’o for his first start since his injury picked up in the derby in December, helping to provide an extra line of defence alongside James Perch.
Young Lewis Butroid and Jacob Bedeau could yet again find themselves in for a long 90 minutes like at Port Vale, as they are likely to face up against pacy widemen Lloyd Isgrove and Diallang Jaiyesimi. They will be looking for an extra bit of protection from the players in front – a key match up that could decide the end result of the game.
Last Time We Met
The last time the two sides faced off was the opening weekend of the season. Coming into the game with hopes of at least a play-off finish come the end of the season, iron fans were soon brought back to down to earth with their side being dealt a lesson in counter attacking football. With Jerry Yates and Keshi Anderson grabbing the goals in a 2-0 win for the Robins.
Set to be Wilcox’s toughest test at the helm so far, the clash under the lights at the County Ground will certainly lay down the marker to see just where this youthful iron side are. It is set to go one of two ways – we could be in for a very long and painful night or come away leaving a lot of people’s eyebrows raised. Here’s hoping for the latter, and then we can look forward to the big one…