September’s Loan Watch: Norwood and Johnstone at Scunthorpe United

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By Ross Gibson, creator of Scunthorpe blog Any Old Iron.

Sam Johnstone

Johnstone missed Scunthorpe’s first league game of September, but in the four following fixtures the month turned out to be a very profitable one for the very talented keeper, no question.

It was a somewhat baptism of fire at home to Sheffield United. The Iron were down to 10 men for over an hour and we had to endure one-way traffic for the entire second half. He could do nothing with the blades tap-in goal. It was a top debut from the young goalkeeper, he commanded his area brilliantly under incredible physical bombardment.

He was growing in confidence and going from strength to strength as we travelled to Rochdale for the next game. He made several fine saves keeping Alan Knill’s side in the contest. It was a poor outfield performance from Scunthorpe and we were deservedly beaten. Johnstone might be disappointed with himself for Rochdale’s goal, but he’d earned his gold long before Dale’s opener.

Four days later Scunthorpe travelled to Walsall. Both his strengths and weaknesses were highlighted in just one game. His strong points being great communication and shot-stopping, but in crucial moments his decision making (mainly due to over-eagerness) left something to be desired. He cost Scunthorpe the first goal following a deadly Superman impression; his only mistake, but had the strikers not been incredibly wasteful, it wouldn’t have mattered one jot. Peter Schmeichel on stilts wouldn’t have saved their second.

On the final Saturday of the month Scunthorpe faced Yeovil. Johnstone defied his tender years putting in a great performance. We were dominated, but with Johnstone coming to the fore and a little fortune we were able to secure our first league victory of the season. The performance was a great way to cap his first month at Glanford Park. If he can maintain his form and continue to progress there is no reason why can’t be a real asset for much bigger clubs than Scunthorpe.

Oliver Norwood

Norwood also made his debut against Sheffield United. He adapted brilliantly for what was not just a new club, but also alongside new signing Damien Mozika in central midfield. He was a creative influence of a 5-man midfield, although he appeared to tire at the back end of the game, with his set pieces notably dipping in quality, but this was only after a great performance.

Persisting with 4-5-1 against Rochdale, it was a real disappointment to see the entire midfield dominated. Norwood was by no means exclusive as a number of his team mates were also poor. Perhaps he is a player that will struggle when those around him are under-achieving.

Away to Walsall saw a marked improvement in Scunthorpe’s performance, although Knill seemed insistent on trying to squeeze square pegs into round holes. Norwood was a useful asset on the wing, which is not his natural position. However, his distribution was sound and. set-pieces were back to being top quality again.

By the final game of the month against Yeovil, Norwood had started to form a positive understanding with Mozika. Despite severe pressure he went about his business rather nicely. It was refreshing to see a calming influence at times. He more than contributed to an absolutely invaluable win.

Norwood is progressing as an all-round box to box midfielder. He has been a key member in our recent upturn in form. He is not a winger and he will need to stamp his influence when others are playing poorly. It may seem harsh, but he is on loan from Manchester United after all!

I and the majority of Iron fans would still sign him at the drop of a hat. The same goes for Johnstone. Long may it continue.

Check the latest Reserve team statistics here.
Check the latest U18s statistics here.

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