Niall Canavan made his first start since September in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with MK Dons.The returning central defender was relieved to be back playing following a shoulder injury he picked up at the start of the season.
He partnered Andrew Boyce for the full 90 minutes in the centre of the Scunthorpe defence as he helped the team earn a point against a Dons side that could have gone top of the Sky Bet League One table had they won.
An opener from Iron striker Tom Hopper had put the Iron ahead but a Kyle McFadzean equaliser twelve minutes from time brought the sides level at Glanford Park. Canavan was happy with the team’s performance and was also pleased with his personal contribution.
He said: “I’m just happy to be out there for the first time in a long time. It’s been a long time back and a little frustrating but the lads have been doing well and hopefully I can continue playing well and keep myself in the team.
“I thought we were well in the game and probably on top for most of it against a MK Dons team that could go to the top of the league. I thought we acquitted ourselves well and were unfortunate not to take the three points and we’re a bit disappointed in how we conceded the goal to be honest.
“I think with the general performance we are quite happy but we’re disappointed with the way their goal came. It was a needless set piece to give away and then we concede from it so that’s the disappointing aspect.
“I thought me and Andrew (Boyce) did well. Jonson Clarke-Harris didn’t have too much to work off, which was the same for the other lads that came on for them. We limited them to quite long range shots and Luke (Daniels) got hold of them so I don’t feel they caused us too many problems.”
Canavan and his defenders knew they were in for a tough test on Tuesday night as the visitors came into the fixture as the division’s highest scorers. In fact, AFC Bournemouth and Watford are the only two sides in the entire Football League this season that have scored more than Karl Robinson’s side but they struggled to penetrate the Iron rear-guard and it was only through a corner that they managed to score their only goal of the game.
Scunthorpe’s 23-year-old defender felt they matched up well against the quality of their opponents but also stood up to the physical challenge that the MK Dons brought to the game.
He stated: “You could see that they have some quality players but I thought that, credit to us, we had a good go at them.
"We maybe didn’t come out of the blocks as quickly as we’d have liked but second half we certainly turned up a bit more, we put them under pressure and I think you can see that we’re not far away.
"Being a centre half, the physical side is something you should usually like. They looked to mix it up a bit, which is something they perhaps do away from home when they go to smaller pitches but it’s something I enjoy and I don’t think we were far off. For the goal Paddy has done well, I think he caught the ‘keeper unawares and he was switched on and played Tom (Hopper) in who finished it well.”
The point moves Mark Robins’ men up to 17th in League One with games in hand on all of the sides around them. The Iron are currently five points behind 10th placed Notts County having played two games less, meaning a run of form like the 11 match unbeaten spell between November and January could significantly push the side up the League One table.
Canavan is aware of the current position of the side and is relieved to see the team in a much better position than they were when he was side-lined with his shoulder injury in September.
He added: “It’s one of those strange ones. If we win our games in hand then we’re ahead of a few but whilst there are still games in hand nobody knows what is going to come so we’ve got to make sure we knuckle down and kick on for this second half of the season.
"We’ve put ourselves in a much better position than where we were and if we can take advantage of our games in hand and kick on then we can have a good finish to the season.”
The 1-1 draw against the MK Dons saw the debut of new goalkeeper Luke Daniels, who highlighted his ability in his first appearance in an Iron shirt by earning the man of the match award.
Daniels was signed by manager Mark Robins earlier this month from Premier League side West Bromwich Albion on a two-and-a-half year deal.
Canavan was impressed with the 27 year old ‘keeper’s debut and thinks he should also be happy with the way he played.
He said: “I thought he did well. He had some tricky ones to deal with, a few that bounced in front of him and he made them all stick so I think he’ll be happy with his debut.”
Scunthorpe’s next fixture is this Saturday against 22nd placed Leyton Orient at the Matchroom Stadium.