Iron defender Niall Canavan believes his side has the quality to find a way past even the most resilient defences ahead of their meeting with Northampton on Saturday.United have rediscovered their goal-scoring form in recent times, having found the net 12 times in their past five matches.
Having failed to score in three of the four games immediately preceding those, a renewed potency in front of goal has breathed new life into the Iron’s ongoing promotion charge.
Such form has helped Glanford Park – where United are unbeaten in their last eight – become something of a fortress once more, and Canavan told The Iron Player: “You can see from a lot of the times teams have come here they have tried to sit behind the ball, and be harder to break down as they know that’s a strength of ours.
“That really poses a challenge to open them up and create something, so if they [Northampton] do that Saturday we’ll have to be prepared for that. If not, and it’s an open game, then that might play into our hands and hopefully we can stick a few in the net.”
Northampton have struggled in League Two this season, and go into Saturday’s meeting with the Iron in the relegation zone – four points adrift of safety.
That is despite an impressive recent run under new manager Chris Wilder which has seen the Cobblers accumulate 10 points from a possible 15, and Canavan added: “Since they changed manager, they have picked up.
“They made some good signings, and will come here full of confidence. An ex-manager [Alan Knill] returns again as an assistant this time, and I’m sure they will be looking to make an impression. It’s up to us to go out there and stamp our game on them, create chances, and put the game to bed.”
One area in which the Iron have appeared more fallible in recent times is in the latter stages of games, having conceded equalisers in the dying minutes of each of their last two matches.
The second of those equalisers saw Chris Zebroski rescue a dramatic point for Newport on Saturday, and Canavan said: “Having gone in front with 10 minutes to play, you would like to think we’d get the job done.
“To be fair, we were pretty comfortable in the game, and it’s a set-piece which has undone us in the end. It’s disappointing, but that’s their strength, and they played to it.
“If you were at the game, you could see that. They just looked to get it into the box from anywhere really, and it’s the third phase [of the corner] again which is disappointing, but we’ll take that and move onto Saturday’s game.”
The 22-year-old defender is adamant an apparent trend in regards to conceding late on isn’t a major concern, and added: “I think a lot has been made of it, and obviously as a team we want to address that.
“It’s a stat which is maybe a target for the opposition, but all the goals that have gone in late on in games have been different. As I said, it was a set-piece at the weekend, and on last Tuesday they caught us on the counter-attack.
“It’s not the same area which they are coming from, and they are varied. I can’t really put it down to anything, it’s just the way it goes sometimes. You can look at it the other day; we scored the one at Accrington and I’m sure people are asking questions there.
“It’s one of those things in football. That’s why people love the game, and it’s also why some fans hate the game.
Despite two successive draws, United remained in touching distance with league leaders Chesterfield courtesy of the Spireites 0-0 draw with Portsmouth on Monday night.
Results such as that have created something of a bunch towards the top end of the table, and Canavan added: “It’s been a bit of a trend this season that teams tend to mirror each other’s results.
“If one of the teams drops points then two or three of the others drop points at the same time. That’s what has kept the league so tight and so interesting. I think a lot of people tipped Chesterfield to run away with it early on, and then when we hit the top a lot of people tipped us to open up a gap.
“It just shows how competitive and how unpredictable the league is at a pretty late stage of the season. Everyone has something to play for; whether you’re at the top or the bottom there are valuable points at stake, and hopefully we can get another three on Saturday.”
The stalemate between Chesterfield and Portsmouth also reflected how any team within the division is capable of causing an upset on their day, with Pompey taking a point away from the Proact Stadium just 10 days after suffering a 5-1 hammering at Glanford Park.
Canavan is eager to replicate that ruthless streak when Northampton visit Lincolnshire this weekend, and said: “On TV they classed their [Portsmouth’s] game here against us as a blip, but I think it was more credit to how we played.
“We really forced them into mistakes, and hopefully we can do that again on Saturday against Northampton. When we get the chances, we need to punish them.”