United extended their unbeaten league run to 20 matches following the 2-2 home draw with Southend United, but Russ Wilcox feels the result overshadows the impeccable run his side have been on.Midfielder Matt Sparrow, who came into the squad for the injured Sean McAllister, gave the home side the lead just two minutes in and Sam Winnall doubled the lead with the faintest touch from a Gary McSheffrey free kick.
However, the visitors who hadn’t won on the road since Boxing Day, struck back with two “fluky” goals including a 40 yard screamer from defender John Egan before John White’s cross went in off the back post.
Wilcox felt the game had similar connotations to Saturday’s home draw with Northampton Town, however, his side performed much better during the first half.
He told The Iron Player: “I think so the result is very similar to Saturday although I would say tonight’s performance was much better than Saturday.
“The first half performance was probably the best 45 minutes we have produced during the 20 games I have been in charge.
“We were on the front foot, we got right at them and we played with drive, determination and quality,” Wilcox continued.
“We spoke at half time that we didn’t have to be as good during the second half as it is difficult to get back to that level again.
He added: “I personally think we were unlucky tonight.”
The United boss knew what to expect from Phil Brown’s side this evening and that is what prompted the changes to the team from Saturday.
United’s defence dealt with the pressure from the Shrimpers and a lot of credit there goes to the back four, especially the centre half pairing of Niall Canavan and man of the match David Mirfin.
“They have put a lot of balls into our box tonight and we have dealt with the majority of them really well,” he said.
“Their lad has volleyed a 40 yard screamer – something which he’ll probably never do again during his career, while the second one is a cross that comes off of the back post touching Dave Mirfin on its way in.
“Credit to Southend, they had a right go at us in the second half and we knew they’d come and respond – it’s a little bit like what we did at Accrington,” he continued.
“We knew all of a sudden that when it went 2-1 it was going to be game on.
“I thought it was a fantastic game to watch and be involved in but we are obviously disappointed not to pick up all three points.
Wilcox added: “We deserved that early goal and we were definitely deserved to be 2-0 up half time.”
On Saturday Wilcox was critical of the Iron’s defence as they gave away a number of cheap free kicks, but he was far from critical of his players tonight.
He continued: “You look back at the game and Sam Slocombe’s not really to make any saves. There was a lot of pressure from them in the second half but we have been strong, resolute and together.
“I think you look at the group of players we have out there and they are all together.”
He added: “The fans will be disappointed but they should be proud of what we have achieved. Whatever the players lack in quality or skill they make up for determination and drive.”
See much more from Russ Wilcox, Matt Sparrow and Gary McSheffrey on The Iron Player.