Scunthorpe United: Karl Hawley back on goal trail - but results matter much more
Karl Hawley contemplated being a fireman when he was released by Walsall as a 23-year-old.
"I was thinking about career options and thought about going into the fire service," he stated in an interview in the Iron's matchday programme, ahead of Tuesday's demoralising 3-1 home defeat by League One leaders Tranmere Rovers.
Dumped back in the bottom four on the back of successive losses, Scunthorpe United are certainly in need of rescue ahead of today's tough-looking trip to the side second in the table, Stevenage.
Hawley, a month into a three-month contract, has settled in swiftly at Glanford Park.
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Having opened his account with a cushioned header that gave United the lead against Ronnie Moore's in-form Rovers, the striker hopes goals will now do the same.
"I want to score every time I go on the pitch, obviously. But to me, it's really all about the result," Hawley told the Telegraph.
"If I've contributed to that, which, most of the time, I feel like I have, that's the main thing."
Hawley finished as Carlisle United's top scorer in three successive seasons from 2004-2007, before following his Cumbrians boss Paul Simpson to Preston North End.
He netted 13, 26 and 12 goals at Brunton Park, but has since failed to be anywhere near as prolific.
A softly-spoken striker, whose quiet demeanour contradicts the strength displayed in games, Hawley had been praised by Alan Knill, the Iron manager, hours before netting his first Scunthorpe goal.
"Once he gets one, I think he'll get a load," he had said.
Hawley hopes such thoughts ring as true as his manager's opinion that a goal was just around the corner.
But if it doesn't quite pan out like that, it will be of little concern to the 30-year-old, whose midweek header was his first goal since November 12 last year, when a deadly double helped Notts County sink Accrington Stanley in the first round of the FA Cup.
"Goals are nice – I'd love to score on Saturday and then again in the next game – but I'm no mug, I know it doesn't always happen like that," continued the experienced front man, who has made six appearances for Scunthorpe since joining as a free agent a month ago.
"I've got one goal though and hopefully in the next couple of games I can get some more.
"Other people worry about things like that more than me.
"You hear little things, like people saying 'he's played four games and hasn't scored', but it just goes over my head now. I'm too experienced to listen to it.
"When I was at Notts County I went over a year without scoring, though it wasn't like I played every week.
"I let other people talk about that while I just get on with what I can do on the pitch. I'll always give my all."
Like his goals tally, Hawley is unconcerned that strike partner Leon Clarke has stolen most of the headlines since they have been paired together up front.
"It's not about me and Leon, it's about the team," is his assessment. "We're nothing unless the team gives us the ball and vice-versa."
His view on the Iron's fortunes, though, are of stark contrast.
Unbeaten in four games prior to last weekend's last-gasp loss at Portsmouth, Scunthorpe have now slipped to successive defeats and shipped five sloppy goals in the process – a return to the problems which blighted the opening exchanges of their campaign.
The manner in which they capitulated against Tranmere was the most disappointing element of an ultimately dismal night.
Hawley's goal was the highlight of a productive and impressive opening 45 minutes from Scunthorpe, but they then conceded twice in as many second half minutes and never looked like clawing anything back.
Character, as well as their defensive play, must be stronger, according to United's No. 22.
Particularly against the likes of Stevenage, a workmanlike side who have added flair to their strength and look well-placed to at least match last season's sixth-place finish.
"On our day we've got a good team – certainly good individuals – but you can't just turn up and concede silly goals, especially at home," assessed Hawley.
"At 1-0 up here you should be seeing out the game or getting at the very least a draw.
"Three points is what we wanted and on the back of the first-half performance against Tranmere we could have got that.
"But our second-half performance was totally different. Personally, I felt it was like a different team.
"When you concede a goal at home, to make it 1-1, everything is going to get a little bit edgy, but we've got to be stronger.
"We're all given jobs at set-pieces from the gaffer and we've got to do better. It's the same things we're saying every week.
"We had to keep it tight and make sure we didn't concede a second, but we did!
"After that we were fighting an uphill challenge. We had to chase the game, but we still made them look like Barcelona."
Hawley may have ended one drought in midweek, but another continues.
Scunthorpe head to the Lamex Stadium having now failed to score more than one goal in a league game for the past 16 matches.
Fire-fighting, it would seem, comes in many different forms.