Michael Collins returned to the starting line-up to face Oxford on Monday in what turned out to be a crucial victory in the Iron’s push for promotion.Russ Wilcox brought the 27-year-old into the side for some vital experience; an astute piece of tactics, with Collins helping gain three points against tough opposition.
“Oxford are a good side on the verge of the playoffs so it was always going to be difficult. The most important thing is we got the three points,” he told The Iron Player.
“There were spells today that showed what a good team we can be when we get the ball down and play, but as you find in League 2 there will be periods where the opposition will dominate."
The victory puts Scunthorpe “in the driving seat to go up as champions” says Collins, who also insists there is now no better incentive to get the three points at Exeter next week. A point in next Saturday’s fixture will secure promotion for the Iron, but he and his teammates know “the job’s not done.”
He said: “There are a lot of positives to take off the back of today’s result and there’s a real buzz in the dressing room, but the focus is now on Exeter."
Matt Sparrow gave Scunthorpe the lead on 15 minutes, with the early goal settling Scunthorpe’s nerves while lifting the impressive crowd.
He stated: “We’d built up a lot of momentum at the start and it’s important to capitalise on good spells with a goal, which is what we did. Unfortunately we weren’t able to grab the second goal but that’s football.
"The lads dug in and put bodies on the line so you have to credit the back four. They’ve kept so many clean sheets this season which gives us a platform to go on and win games."
Collins has been in the Iron ranks since 2010, making him one of the most experienced squad members, something often considered essential in a successful squad. He said he just aims to “do his bit as and when needed” whilst looking to feature as much as possible.
“I was disappointed not to start last week and to come off against Torquay but I understand the decisions," he stated.
"You can’t afford to sulk as teams are not about individuals. I pride myself on my professionalism and will always do a job when needed so I’m pleased I could contribute to an important victory that hopefully gets us one step closer to promotion."
Scunthorpe have lost the least amount of games in the whole of England following Chelsea’s defeat to Sunderland at the weekend. Collins was quick to give credit to his manager, the staff and his teammates, but insisted it is a squad effort.
He said: “The unbeaten run itself is phenomenal; it’s a huge lift to everybody going into games. But it’s not just about the eleven players on the pitch as there are a lot of disappointed people who’d love to be playing but have remained professional and drove the lads on."
He also praised the fans that came to support their team on Monday. He said: “The crowd was brilliant today, but they’ve been like it all season. We’ve put them through the wringer on a few occasions, especially when we’ve not managed to hold on to three points from winning positions, but they’ve stood by us.
"We’d love to reward them by winning the title and giving them something to shout about.
"Being one of the players to have been here for a few seasons, I, along with everyone else, want to put the club back in League One and give everyone a platform to build on.
"We’re very close to getting the job done but until it’s a definite we just need to keep pushing.”
See much more from Michael Collins, Matt Sparrow and Russ Wilcox on The Iron Player.