Sunday, 17 July 2011

Halifax Town 1 – 0 Scunthorpe United; 16/07/11.


Revenge can often be strange and contrived. I walked into the afternoon's lectures with a big ol' sadface when I heard that at lunchtime, Alan Knill had suddenly left my "other" team, Bury, to help save Scunthorpe United from relegation. That weekend the Iron lost 6–0 at Norwich, and Alan Knill's new Barmy Army finished the season 24th on goal difference, dropping down to League 1. It'd be a bit of karma to beat the highest-ranked team in our friendly list this season with Knill still at their helm.

Several individual performances stood out from a watchable game. The first was that of injury-dogged Nicky Gray, who with his head up narrowed himself between two Iron defenders and hit the right post with his edge-of-the-box shot. Throughout the match, Vardy had the attention of an umpteenth full-time outfit, continuously dodging defenders and laying up precise crosses. Simon Eastwood's clean sheet was one he worked on keeping, and the Matt Smith lookalike had a nimble edge over the departed #1 Jonathan Hedge, coming up to collect a close Scunthorpe shot, which he saved again on the rebound twice to a relieved applause.

However, even the meekest Scunthorpe team, ie. the one we saw yesterday, could build up a few attempts, even if they were just by chance. Around the 75th minute, one of their numberless substitutes that came on in a Knill's mid-half line-up overhaul was adjudged to have trod on Greg Anderson's bootlaces before he calmly put the ball past Eastwood. Laughs turned to worry again towards the end, against the Vardy-led run-of-play as Scunthorpe found an opening but hit the post.

Scunthorpe substitute half the population of Scunthorpe.

Then came this:

Liam Hogan intercepted a pass and ran with it down the right. Looking like the flag of the Isle of Man, he took it in a straight line from 70 yards to 30 yards: there he gave it a bash and in it went off the bar. Possibly the best goal I've seen at the Shay, and it was from a centre-back during pre-season. Magic it was!

1–0 at 88 minutes, and the ref blew soon after. After a handshake with Neil Aspin shorter than most fist-bumps, Alan Knill plodded into the dressing rooms looking more like a distressed Woody Allen than a football manager.


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