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KEEP WINNING, SOONER RATHER THAN LATER

11 April 2014

Iron defender David Mirfin is refusing to look too far ahead in the build-up to Saturday’s meeting with Bury at Glanford Park.

With just five games of the regular campaign now remaining, United sit seven points clear of fourth-placed Fleetwood Town as they close in on an invaluable automatic promotion spot.



Despite the temptation to start dreaming of promotion, Mirfin is adamant his side must keep their collective feet on the ground, and told The Iron Player: “It’s a cliché, but we have to take each game as it comes.

“The good thing is we’re not relying on other results to move up. We know if we concentrate on ourselves and get a result, that’s the only thing that matters.

“I think it [Bury] is going to be a really tough game to be honest. They’re not fighting against relegation any more, but they don’t have the pressure on to come here and win.

“The form they are on makes them dangerous.”

Having spent much of the season languishing towards the bottom of the table, the Shakers have been on something of a resurgent force since David Flitcroft took the managerial reigns in December.

The Greater Manchester outfit were lying in 20th when the former Barnsley manager arrived, but now sit in 11th – having picked up 34 points from his 22 games in charge.

Those improved fortunes have left Bury with an outside chance of making the play-offs after three successive wins, and Mirfin added: “He’s done a fantastic job, and we know from the last game [between the sides] that they’ll never give up, even to the last minute.

“We’ve got to make sure we turn up and put in a really strong performance. Like I say, it’s going to be a really tough game.”

The meeting with Bury marks the beginning of a hectic Easter schedule for United, with three fixtures in the space of nine days set to define their season.

Given the Iron’s advantage over the chasing pack, a string of wins from those matches will see United secure promotion, and Mirfin admitted: “I’ve always said it will be decided with the Easter Monday game [against Oxford United].

“With three games in just over a week, nine points to play for is massive at this stage of the season. You would hope you get a bit of help from other teams dropping points, but all you can do is concentrate on yourselves.

“We know if we keep winning then we’re going to get promoted sooner rather than later.”

One of the key aspects in the Iron’s ongoing promotion charge has been solidarity in defence, with United having prevented their opposition from scoring in 20 of their 41 league matches this campaign to date.

Their defensive acumen has peaked in recent weeks, with five consecutive clean sheets aiding the Iron’s cause as they seek to complete a return to League One at the first time of asking.

The reliable nature of the United back-line has been key to the side picking up 13 points from the last 15 available, and Mirfin said: “For the stage of the season we’re at, and having gone half a dozen games without getting a clean sheet, it’s good.

“It’s a great time to be doing it. Obviously on Saturday a lot of credit goes to Sam [Slocombe] for saving the penalty, and away at Cheltenham as well.

“There’s an element of luck to saving penalties, but Sam’s got to take a lot of credit for doing his homework. If it wasn’t for that we’d have three [clean sheets] in five, which is still not bad but five from five is a good return.”

Such a run of shut-out’s means a repeat at the weekend will see United’s current crop equal the club record sequence set by goalkeeper Paul Musselwhite and his colleagues in 1988.

That remains a secondary consideration for Mirfin however, who added: “It would be nice, but it’s not something we’re talking about.

“With the run Russ [Wilcox] has been on as well, all these records or potential records are only worth it if we get promoted. That’s probably what’s going to get remembered at the end of the season rather than individual records.

“If you can get these records along with promotion, that’s when they might mean more and become more significant. As players, it’s all about getting promoted.”

See much more from David Mirfin, Paul Hayes, Paddy Madden and Russ Wilcox on The Iron Player.

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