Farewell then, top of the league. It was nice knowing you. United fought and fought but ultimately couldn’t turn over a poor Scunthorpe side. When we look back at the end of the season is this going to be the game we remember when it all started to go wrong?
The less pessimistic of you might say “but it was only one game, and we created loads of chances”, and whilst that’s true, we said “it’s only one game” after defeat in a similar fashion to Cheltenham, and we’ve have said “it’s only one game” after Port Vale if it wasn’t for Liam O’Neil’s stunning goal, so it’s not “only one game”, it’s at least three games now and the fact of the matter is we haven’t won a game at home since the end of January. These are the games we’ve been targeting for points, and the kind of game we need to be winning if we’ve any hopes of automatic promotion.
Is it all doom and gloom though? One one hand, yes. It’s hard to look past the fact that was undoubtably three points dropped. The season is already kind of out of our hands already due to the number of games in hand other teams have over us, but we shouldn’t be making it easy for them. On the other hand: no. We didn’t play too badly. We created a load of chances even though Wes Hoolahan wasn’t playing, something we’ve struggled with before. Hiram Boateng is getting closer and closer to full match fitness. We’re not going to dwell too much on the mistake that lead to the goal as this is League Two, and mistakes like this happen all the time. Could Burton have done better? Probably, but the odds were always against him in that situation.
Our problem yesterday seemed to be that the chances fell to the wrong person. Shilow Tracey looks like a player, but he’s not a striker and whilst he should have taken his chance, that’s not really his job. Same goes for Jack Iredale against Cheltenham. Joe Ironside had an off day yesterday, and Paul Mullin has carried this team all season and looks knackered. He’s quite clearly fixated on beating David Crown’s record for goals in a season (and rightly so) but this is causing him to shoot at every opportunity even when better options are available to him. It’ll come Paul, trust us.
So where do we go from here? On paper, Walsall on Saturday should be an easy win, but we’ve said that too many times this season to take anything for granted. Three points is an absolute must though, and fingers crossed Wes will be back, and Hannant may have discovered his magic again after his short midweek break. Bigger than that is our trip to Bolton the following Tuesday. It’s our last midweek game for a while, and against an opponent who is going to be up there at the end of the season. Everyone tipped Bolton to go straight back up this year, and despite a shite start they’ve been on a decent run lately and find themselves back in the playoffs. After that we’ve got a bit of a rest from the punishing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday schedule which can only be a bonus. These lads have been playing out of their skins all season, we’ve come too far for it to all be in vain now.
Man of the Match: Despite the result everyone worked hard and it’s hard to pick one standout such is the dissapointing nature of the defeat. Adam May did little wrong in midfield, and Jack Iredale and Shilow Tracey had a pretty good games despite the latter missing his chance.
Soundtrack of the Match: Oasis – Slide Away (we’ve gone for the Live @ Knebworth version because Stevenage did us a HUGE favour beating FGR last night)
United: Burton, Knoyle, Taylor, Drysdale, Dunk, Tracey, O’Neil (Boateng), May, Iredale (Davies), Mullin, Ironside