Scunthorpe United warned to be wary of giving away free-kicks as they attempt to go one better in latest meeting with Carlisle United
MANAGER Brian Laws wants Scunthorpe United to complete a job they started just over a fortnight ago when they take on Carlisle United at Glanford Park tonight.
It is just 18 days since the two teams met previously, on a bitterly cold afternoon at Brunton Park.
Honours finished even that day, as a stunning free-kick from Blues substitute David Symington cancelled out Karl Hawley’s close-range finish, but the Iron boss thought his side were deserving of more than the solitary point they brought back with them to North Lincolnshire.
With the opportunity to move five points clear of the relegation zone the prize for a home victory, there can be no bigger incentive to be more clinical than previously against the Cumbrians.
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“A win would give us the chance to move up a couple of places, which is encouraging,” said the United manager.
“It’s going to take nerve and positivity. Building on two wins would make you more of a positive player than a negative one.
“It’s only a fortnight ago that we played them, yet it seems a lot longer than that.
“At Carlisle we were unlocked by an absolute wonder strike – so we’ve got to be very mindful of that.
“We’ve had two goals against us of late that have been wonderful strikes of the ball (the other an equally applaudable free-kick from Portsmouth’s Liam Walker a week ago), but we haven’t allowed it to affect us.
“If we keep progressing as we have been, without getting carried away, I’d like to think the Gods above us will hopefully even things out.
“But we’ve got to put in the hard work. There’s no question about that.”
Although frustrated, Laws had nothing but praise for Symington’s stunning strike after the 1-1 draw, labelling it ‘goal of the season’.
The young professional came agonisingly close to repeating the feat with a similar set-piece from almost identical range at the weekend, but his effort in Carlisle’s 2-1 win against Stevenage cannoned off the crossbar.
It was a timely reminder, not that Laws needed it, of the midfielder’s ability. So he has warned Scunthorpe’s players they must keep their discipline and deny Symington the chance of a free shot at goal should he come off the bench tonight.
“We’ve warned the players not to give away any needless fouls – certainly if he (Symington) comes off the bench,” Laws smiled.
“I’ll be telling them not to give any free-kicks away from the halfway line onwards.
“We’d already seen a couple of clips where he’s hit the woodwork from a similar position.
“They’ve got a player there who can come off the bench and score out of nothing so we’re very, very mindful of that.”
Victory for either side tonight will provide those penning match reports with a noteworthy statistic.
Scunthorpe, buoyed by back-to-back home wins for the first time in two years, can achieve three successive victories at Glanford Park for the first time since March 2009 by beating the Blues.
Carlisle, whose weekend win against Stevenage was preceded by an impressive triumph at leaders Tranmere seven days earlier, are yet to win three games on the trot in Greg Abbott’s four-year reign as boss.
Should the latter occur tonight, Abbott, perhaps somewhat ambitiously, has suggested the Cumbrians may be primed for a late charge for the play-offs.
“Another couple of wins and we can start thinking about finishing in the top eight or nine. In fact, let’s set our targets even higher than that,” he stated this week.
Should the Iron though prevail, and move to within four points of their visitors, Laws says Carlisle may instead be better served by focusing more on what happens below.
“It will be a physical battle,” added the Iron manager.
“Carlisle will show good form themselves. They’ve won two on the bounce so we know they’ll come to us full of spirit, but we’ve got to make this a difficult place to come.
“They know if we win it will really pull on their shirt tails. If that happens we’ll grab hold of them and we could drag them back into the thick of things.
“It’s a big game for both clubs.”