'More the merrier' says Scunthorpe United boss Brian Laws as Iron look to reel further clubs into League One relegation battle
IT IS viewed by many as the opportunity to take a significant step towards League One safety.
The chance to open up a points advantage bigger than any other that has separated Scunthorpe United and the bottom four all season.
Victory though for the Iron in their rearranged game with Carlisle United tonight could cause as much of a stir amongst the sides immediately above them in the table as it does those below.
Three points against the Cumbrians, against whom Scunthorpe had to settle for one on their travels a fortnight ago, would move them five clear of Oldham Athletic, the club currently precariously positioned in fourth bottom.
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It would also take them above Colchester United and Shrewsbury Town and potentially level on points with Preston North End, who are in action at in-form Yeovil Town.
According to Brian Laws, the Iron manager who seems happy to engage in mind games while his side do the same with momentum, what at one point looked like being a six-horse race to avoid finishing in the four relegation positions now potentially stretches into double figures.
For sides like the Shrews (two wins in 11) and at painful Preston (an even poorer one win in 13), he says, the going could be about to get mentally tougher.
“I hope it gives us a psychological advantage, because some sides have not experienced it, while we’re overcoming it,” Laws assesses in the splendour of Glanford Park’s executive lounge, a room which has enjoyed the sort of facelift a manager of the Iron would love to be to afford to his squad.
“We’re getting over the disappointment of our bad results and being in bad form, but we’re building, whereas the teams that we’re trying to draw in have been very indifferent and not got on a great run.
“It certainly makes them more nervy, for sure.
“A few weeks ago I’m sure a few teams were breathing a sigh of relief because they were thinking there were enough points between themselves and the bottom four. Now it’s a fag packet away.
“We’ve got to breathe down the necks of those teams above us very heavily.
“We’ve got a fantastic opportunity to do that against Carlisle.”
On Saturday, during their 2-1 victory over Crawley Town, those of a claret and blue disposition were breathing more a sigh of relief as Scunthorpe came from behind to win for only the second time this term.
But it is scenarios like that, Colchester’s third win in four games, against Preston, and managerless Oldham’s 3-1 triumph against MK Dons that leads Laws to sense maybe the start of shift in survival power – something that so often becomes prevalent at this stage of the season.
“A few weeks ago I would have said we were maybe looking at six clubs fighting to stay out of the bottom four places,” he adds.
“Now we’re starting to put a run together and Colchester and Bury have done the same, all of a sudden it’s been condensed and you’re probably talking about 10 teams, not just six.
“The more the merrier as far as we’re concerned. That means somebody is going to get nervous and probably go on a bad run.
“We’ve got to maintain what we’ve done since the turn of the year and maintain the results we’ve had at home.
“We’re not particularly playing well – we’ve played a lot better and lost – but I think everybody will agree that the result is more important than the performance.
“That’s how we’re looking at it at this moment in time.”
A similar story tonight would suit just fine.
Except, of course, in both Preston and Shrewsbury. Amongst others.