Scunthorpe v Blackpool: Morris and Longstaff magic

Longstaff looked satisfied with his strike at Donny – blackpoolfc.co.uk

League One has been kind to Newcastle United academy graduates. In 15/16, Adam Armstrong had a breakthrough season with Coventry. In 16/17, Sammy Ameobi and Shane Ferguson were part of promotion-winning teams. This year, the third tier Tynesider is Sean Longstaff. The loanee has scored in each of his four league starts for Blackpool – and the last three have been very eye-catching strikes.

Those goals show the cohesion with which Blackpool are playing. For two of those goals, Kyle Vassell made a horizontal dart to distract the defence and create space for Longstaff to shoot. For his solo goal against Wimbledon (0:17) last time out, the movement of Nathan Delfouneso was key.

As a striker by trade, one would expect he would want to find a goalscoring position as soon as Longstaff picked the ball up. Instead, Delfouneso held the left-wing position to occupy Wimbledon’s right-back, giving Longstaff space to run at the right-sided centre-back. When defenders started to get near the Newcastle loanee, he had the skill and presence of mind to drag the ball back and find space to fire it inside the near post.

The question is whether he’ll have the same joy against a solid Scunthorpe defence that has only conceded two goals in five league games. Levi Sutton has played well enough to keep Jordan Clarke out of the right-back slot and should be savvy to Delfouneso and Longstaff’s tricks. Murray Wallace remains a model of consistency while Rory McArdle does not give many chances away, even if he is guilty of giving the ball away at times.

McArdle’s no-nonsense performances encapsulate the way Scunthorpe play. They aren’t going to dominate many teams for 90 minutes – in fact, they are yet to score more than once against 11 men. If they are going to get promoted, they are likely to do it in similar style to Russ Wilcox’s class of 13/14, who weren’t pretty but kept a clean sheet in almost half their games and had a match-winner at the other end.

That year, the talisman was striker Sam Winnall, whereas this year winger Josh Morris is most likely to grab the headlines. Clashes with Oxford and Bury were heading for goalless draws in the last 10 minutes, before he produced a moment of individual quality. Those games sandwiched a 4-0 win at Home Park, where Morris was the team’s main creative outlet against 10-man Plymouth.

While Longstaff will benefit from his teammates stretching play on Saturday, Morris plays in a defensive system and may be asked to do that little bit more on his own.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-1