Iron winger Gary McSheffrey believes he is edging closer to top form ahead of the clash with Bristol Rovers at Glanford Park on Tuesday night.The 31-year-old was recalled to the starting line-up for the visit of Portsmouth on Saturday following his impressive performance off the bench in the comeback win at Accrington Stanley, and continued where he left off by playing a key role in a thumping 5-1 victory.
That win moved United level on points with league leaders Chesterfield once more, and McSheffrey told The Iron Player: “It was a good performance from the team, and from myself.
“I was happy to get 90 minutes, and to get some confidence flowing with an assist, so it was a good weekend all round.
“Hopefully with a couple more games I’ll be at my peak fitness, and be ready to finish the season strongly. The match-fitness is getting there; it’s another 90 minutes under my belt.”
The assist provided by the former Coventry winger – coming in the shape of an exquisite back-heel which released Sam Winnall for United’s second goal of the afternoon – displayed a growing sense of self-confidence, and McSheffrey added: “Obviously if you’re playing you’re happy, so my objective is to play as many games as I can and stay in the team.
“You have to make sure the manager can’t leave you out, so that’s the aim from now on.”
The combination play between McSheffrey and Winnall – sandwiched between a clinical first half brace from Dave Syers – gave United a deservedly healthy 3-0 lead at the break as Pompey struggled to contain a rampant Iron attack.
Things would get better shortly after the interval when Paddy Madden reacted quickest to prod home his first goal in claret and blue, and McSheffrey added: “He [Madden] worked his socks off, and didn’t give their defence any breathing space whatsoever.
“He did a great job for the team, and got his rewards with a tap-in which he fully deserved.”
However, the star of the show was undoubtedly Syers, who completed a superb hat-trick with 35 minutes still remaining when he calmly swept in a cross from the dangerous Hakeeb Adelakun to take his personal tally for the season up to eight.
Of those eight, an incredible five have now come against Pompey, with the ex-Doncaster midfielder also netting a double at Fratton Park in November as United came from behind to begin life under Russ Wilcox with a win.
McSheffrey was full of praise for his 26-year-old teammate, and told The Iron Player: “He’s a goal-scoring midfielder, and he deserves it.
“He’s been working hard, and he pops up in good areas, so fair play to him.”
With United having effectively sealed the win just 10 minutes into the second half by being five goals to the good, many Iron fans were clamouring for Portsmouth to be put to the sword.
The hosts were forced to settle for five however, with a late goal from Pompey substitute Michael Drennan taking a hint of gloss off what had previously been a flawless performance.
Despite that late disappointment, McSheffrey remained satisfied with the eventual outcome, and added: “It could have been a lot more, but we’re more than happy with the 5-1 win.
“Their goalkeeper made a few good saves, and Hayesy [Paul Hayes] could have had a couple himself towards the end. The fans appreciate it when they see good football, and they saw that on Saturday.
“You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth, and although we enjoy it when we win we’ve got to stay professional and work hard for them every game.”
Having capitalised fully on Chesterfield slipping up against Wycombe Wanderers over the weekend, United are set to once again play host – this time to Bristol Rovers – knowing a win would crank up the heat in the League Two title race.
The Pirates’ form has improved of late, with seven points taken from their last three matches, but McSheffrey added: “If we win, we could get a bit of a gap going from fourth place.
“That’s the incentive to respect the opposition, to work hard, and to be professional. If we do all that then I think we can win the game.”
See much more from Gary McSheffrey and Russ Wilcox on The Iron Player.