|Image source: Damon Campion/ Scunthorpe United|
Saturday saw the return of the 4-4-2 formation that many supporters had called for, following our draw against AFC Wimbledon.
That return yielded good first half results with the Iron on top for the most part; goalkeeper Matt Gilks seldom called up in the first 45 minutes.
Certainly, the inclusion of Neal Bishop and Josh Morris was surprising to me given their uncertainty regarding injuries.
The influence of the two were polar opposite as Bishop, once again, impressed. The central midfielder won his fair share of battles in the middle of the park which allowed our more creative players to do their thing going forward.
In contrast, Morris was disappointing and frustrating. A lack of end product in the final third left many away fans writhing in the stands. On more than one occasion, he found himself behind the Rochdale backline but unable to pick out any team mates who were in the box.
Paddy Madden was presented with a half chance when a short back pass tested Josh Lillis’ awareness in the Dale net. Unfortunately, Madden was unable to get closer to that illustrious position as one of the Iron’s all-time top ten goal scorers, when the Dale number one narrowly beat the Irishman to the ball.
Following the first half, I eagerly anticipated the second period. This optimism was swiftly extinguished thanks to Steven Davies’ goal, after a corner we failed to clear ended on Davies’ head. It was sloppy from an Iron perspective.
The game changed after the inclusion of Duane Holmes. The link up with his full back was something that we hadn’t witnessed when our number 11 was in action. His bravery when attacking was eye catching to say the least. After only 2 minutes on the pitch he slid the ball under an onrushing Josh Lillis to send the away end into raptures.
The next 10 minutes were positive for the Iron, who pushed strongly for a goal to take the lead. Our build up play from defence through to the final third was impressive. However, we just lacked the final ball to leave a player with a clear chance to find the net.
In the end, a draw was probably a fair result, and either team could have nicked it, especially with the late surge of Dale set pieces which saw our fans looking on through a pair of hands.
Man of the Match – Neal Bishop. He was involved in most of our good play through the centre and wasn’t adverse to switching the focal point of the attack to the flanks. As always, he heavily contributed to our defensive play, providing the screen in front of the backline to protect the centre backs which led him to intercepting many promising balls from the opposition’s backline.