Scunthorpe United 2-0 Plymouth Argyle Six Things: Iron make the play-offs

Hakeeb Adelakun –

Scunthorpe United booked their League One play-off spot whilst effectively ending Plymouth Argyle’s hopes of joining them with a 2-0 win at Glanford Park; here’s six things from the game.

Scunthorpe’s strong start

Scunthorpe started on the front foot, with Ryan Yates and Funso Ojo controlling central areas. Ivan Toney posed a threat with his channel running and after the striker beat Zak Vyner in the air, his deflected cross found it’s way to Hakeeb Adelakun, who fired wide of the near-post on the turn. The home side’s prominence was rewarded though on 32 minutes, when Adelakun broke in behind Yann Songo’o and Antoni Sarcevic; when Vyner failed to close down the academy graduate, he rolled the ball inside the near-post.

Plymouth’s poor possession usage

Argyle responded quickly to falling behind, with Graham Carey getting in behind Jordan Clarke after a one-two with Joel Grant to produce a fierce snapshot that was well saved by Matt Gilks. However, if a front three of Carey on the left, Grant on the right and Ruben Lameiras as a false nine was going to work for Derek Adams’ side, those players needed to receive the ball to feet. While the midfielders and defenders were willing to keep possession, they didn’t do so with the kind of composure required to play accurate passes into the attacking trio, who were therefore isolated for long spells.

Fletcher’s brief impact

Plymouth’s only spell of sustained pressure was led by substitute Alex Fletcher; the young striker gave them the physical presence that enabled them to play simplistic balls into the box that they hadn’t been able to earlier. As a result, Murray Wallace and Rory McArdle, imperious for much of the contest, had to drop back a yard and that allowed Ruben Lameiras get on the ball more in dangerous areas, with the ex-Coventry man seeing a shot deflected wide on the hour mark.

Toney hits the right note

Duane Holmes’ pressing had been excellent all evening, so it was fitting that it contributed to Scunthorpe’s second goal that killed off the contest. The former Huddersfield man beat Vyner to a loose ball and when visiting right-back Gary Miller, another half-time substitute, was forced back, home left-back Conor Townsend was given space to swing in a dangerous cross which Toney guided into the far corner.

Pilgrims making progress

Plymouth were unable to respond to the second goal, so they were condemned to a result that significantly reduces their play-off place, which will be beyond them baring an unlikely six-goal swing to Charlton on the final day. Considering that they were bottom as recently as December however, the Devon club should be proud of the strides they have made. Further progression will depend on the coherence of the team’s ideology next season; they must either improve their passing from deep or revert to an attack that prides itself on simplicity.

Scunthorpe book their place

Nick Daws’ side picked up a victory that saw them move up to fifth, five points clear of seventh-placed Argyle and therefore guaranteed a play-off spot. Their semi-final opponents are most likely to be Rotherham – but possibly Shrewsbury – and either side, the Iron should have the level of. They have looked well-balanced under Daws: enough rigidity in their rear-guard to record four consecutive wins to nil, but enough fluidity of movement in their attacking quartet to ask questions in the other direction.