Scunthorpe United meeting the opposition.
The previous game between Tranmere and Scunthorpe was played at United’s ground in late August 2021, a performance from Rovers that screamed that there were plenty of problems to be sorted out.
Now in January 2022, the hosts this time round sit in a much more comfortable position in the table and the positive momentum has resulted in Micky Mellon being named as the league’s manager of the month for December.
In the opposite dugout sits Keith Hill, a man who Rovers fans know plenty about as he returns to Prenton Park looking to frustrate his previous employers.
I spoke to a Scunthorpe supporter, Toby Skelton, about the on and off pitch situations at Scunthorpe United before he gave his thoughts on how he can see the game panning out and much more.
What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now as we enter the second half of the campaign?
My expectations were always fairly low. After a poor end to last season and even more budget cuts over the summer, I think every Scunthorpe fan expected to be in a relegation scrap this season. To survive again this season would be a great feat.
What are your thoughts on those in charge at The Iron. Keith Hill is the newly appointed manager whereas Peter Swann is the chairman.
Keith Hill has been a breath of fresh air since coming in. He’s massively increased the fitness levels of the squad which was one of the major issues under Cox, and he’s made us defensively competent, which is a complete turnaround from the previous regime. As for Swann, he’s always been a contentious figure. Perhaps over the last few months however, he has gradually begun trying to rectify some of his previous mistakes, and adding popular supporter Simon Elliott to the club board has certainly helped relations between the fans and the chairman.
Scunthorpe’s danger men?
Good question! I’m not even sure I could tell you. We’ve been toothless up front all season. Top scorer Ryan Loft was sold during the week, so we’ll have to see what new loan signing Sam Burns has to offer if he gets a start.
The last time these two clubs met was in August, the hosts (yourselves) winning 1-0. How would you describe the way that game was played?
It was a fairly boring affair. Tranmere passed it around well and their players showed some good touches, but looked very poor in attack. We got a slightly fortuitous penalty which was converted by Miles Hippolyte, but overall, we did have a few chances but Joe Murphy in goal was in top form, making some key saves.
How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out? (Score prediction) and why, if you do, do you think this meeting will pose different questions than the previous encounter did?
I think it will be 1-1. Under Hill we’re very hard to beat and I imagine he will be very up for this match against his former employers. I expect chances will be fairly limited for both sides. Keith Hill has been somewhat of a 1-1 specialist for us, and I would not be at all surprised if he got another draw under his belt.
What starting eleven do you think Hill will select and how would you describe his playing style in the time he’s spent at the club so far? Rovers fans will know a little bit about this considering he was manager of Tranmere last season.
It’s very difficult to predict the starting line up as we have a few covid cases so predicting a starting line up would be a complete stab in the dark. I would expect Hippolyle to be the focal point for us, trying to feed balls through to the strikers. Our fitness levels are very good now too so I think we will certainly try and run at the
Rovers defence with players like Devarn Green. We tend to be a second half team nowadays, so if you are 1-0 up at half time, do not take the win as a given, even despite our lowly position in the league.
How would you describe the matchday at Prenton Park too, if you have experienced it in the past?
I’ve actually never been! It will be my first time going there on Saturday and I’m very much looking forward to it.
As we have now entered the January transfer window, who would you like United to sign this month? Would you say there are positions that you’d like to be strengthened?
We certainly need a new striker, that’s for sure. I would like to see an experienced central midfielder in the building, plus a new centre back as George Taft has been fairly unreliable so far this term, and captain Harry Davis has a questionable injury record.