The Iron extended their unbeaten run to 25 games and drew level with Rochdale at the top of the League Two ladder on Saturday with the 1-0 win at Torquay.An energetic and outgoing Torquay United knew only a win would do them any favours at this late stage of the season with their Football League status looking ever more precarious and this bore out over the ninety minutes in a performance belying their position in the table.
Skipper Sam Slocombe was on hand once more to save from the spot in a busy afternoon, nudging the Iron on to their fourth win in five and fifth clean sheet in that same period.
United’s stopper was on hand post-match to pass judgement to The Iron Player on what was a close-run thing.
He said: “It wasn’t a pretty game. Torquay have everything to play for down at the bottom and they needed to win, which suited us and we expected them to come out like that.
"They gave a lot and were unfortunate not to come away with anything but that shows the resolve that we’ve got this season.
"These one-nil wins away from home are really what makes a promotion team. We’ve not done it yet and we keep enforcing things to make sure we do it but it was another morale boost.”
“Their right winger (Shaquile Coulthirst) had a great game to be honest and Marcus (Williams) had a great game up against him; he was tricky.
"I was a bit confused as to why they brought him off, we were buzzing when that happened.
"We were just solid and Russ (Wilcox) made the difficult decision at half time to make the change in our shape, which wasn’t down to anyone playing poorly, just that maybe we would be more comfortable in a 4-4-2. We saw it through with that, which is the main thing.”
With that fifth clean sheet on the spin, United tied for the best defence in the league, having conceded 37 all season; all whilst scoring only two less than the league’s top scorers Rochdale – an achievement to be pleased with according to Scunthorpe’s captain.
Slocombe was also keen to share credit for his part in the afternoon’s shutout, another penalty save to add to this season’s collection.
He stated: “It is satisfying. We have been solid recently. Today is maybe the first time that I was quite busy to be honest.
"The past couple of games, we’ve defended as a midfield and defensive unit and I had little to do. Today was a bit more testing with the weather and the way they played.
“It’s worked out well this season. It might be that next season I won’t save one but I thought with the position they were in at one-nil down that he might try to strike down the middle; it’s a good safe position to try and aim at.
"I tried to stand as long as possible and luckily I went the right way. Marcus did his job in following in, which I’m grateful for and we saw it out which is the main thing.”
With Rochdale only managing to pick up a point at home to York, United elevated themselves into an encouraging position level on points and goal difference with Keith Hill’s side. United’s stopper sees this as “a massive incentive” with five to play.
“What people need to know is yes, we want promotion but I’m sure the boys want to win the league as well," he said.
"We’re looking at the next five games as opportunities to pick up fifteen points. We know the other teams have a difficult run in.
"Chesterfield, for example, have to play Burton and Fleetwood so there will be points dropped there no matter what. We’re not looking too far ahead. Promotion is the main thing and we have to win games from that. Hopefully then, we can put ourselves in a commanding position to win it.”
The Iron’s travelling support was again in fine voice and treated once more to three points following long journeys to the likes of Plymouth and Cheltenham in recent weeks. Slocombe was delighted to send the fans home happy again, praising their commitment to the cause.
He continued: “One of the analysts said that we’ve got the second best if not the best away record in Europe so the travelling fans that come have been happy, not just today but all season.
"We’re so thankful for them for making the journey. We have to do it so we know how bad it is. For them to do it, massive respect to them. They were probably up earlier today having work commitments than what we were yesterday.”
See much more from Sam Slocombe, Russ Wilcox and Sam Winnall on The Iron Player.