United manager Russ Wilcox expressed pride at his team’s showing against promotion hopefuls Bristol City despite seeing them go down 2-0 at Ashton Gate.The visiting side enjoyed the better of proceedings for long periods, with Gary McSheffrey rattling the post in the first half as he caused regular problems for the home defence throughout.
However, the hosts edged in front on 52 minutes courtesy of an Aden Flint header before sealing the win seven minutes from time when Greg Cunningham’s strike ended hopes of United salvaging something from the contest, and Wilcox told The Iron Player: “I think we played well for an hour, and was really pleased.
“Bristol City battered us for the first 15, and we were rabbits in the headlights but weathered the storm. We’ve spoken about getting through periods in games, and managed to get through the first 15 minutes.
“For the next hour we edged it chance-wise, certainly. We played some good football which we’ve worked on – getting Gary McSheffrey on the ball in that pocket behind Paddy Madden – but you have to take your chances when they come at places like this.
“We didn’t do that, Bristol got the second goal, and then got on top for the last 15 minutes.”
The Iron have endured a highly testing return to the third tier following promotion from League Two last season, with a number of injuries to key players making an already gruelling schedule even tougher.
Those absences have seen players pushed to their limits for the claret and blue cause, and Wilcox admitted: “It’s been a long four weeks. There are players out there for us who have played nine games in four weeks, so it’s a credit to them.
“I’ve moaned to the local press about the schedule, and it showed today in the last 15 minutes. You’ve got people like Neal Bishop who’s played a lot of games dead on his feet, and Niall Canavan has gone down with cramp.
“We won’t get many games as tough as we have had today, and need to build on the positives, of which there are plenty. We went to the death, and hoped to keep it tight as you always feel there will be one last moment to get that equalising goal at 1-0, but the second killed the game for us.
“The schedule we’ve had for the first nine games has been tough. We’ve played some good outfits, Preston and Bristol probably being the best two, and I’m proud of the players.”
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