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Manager hails Iron resolve

16 December 2017

Boss Graham Alexander praised his players after Saturday’s 2-2 home draw against Milton Keynes Dons, which saw the Iron play more than half the game with ten men.

Match Reports

Report: Iron 2-2 Milton Keynes Dons

16 December 2017

United were 2-1 up after the first-half, as Hakeeb Adelakun and Kevin van Veen scored either side of a Kieran Agard equaliser.

Neal Bishop was sent off during first-half stoppage time, and then the Dons levelled through Chuks Aneke.

After the clash, Alexander provided his reaction to iFollow Iron.

One big positive was the performance from our team. We were 2-1 up and looking good going into half-time. Obviously, things conspired against us and incidents happened after the allotted time that was given for the first-half – three minutes were put up and the incident happened at three-and-a-half minutes. I don’t know why, but it was a precursor to a lot of stuff that went on today. We had to regroup and change a couple of things at half-time. I was disappointed to have to do that (bring off) to Kev (van Veen) and to Duane (Holmes), who were obviously having an impact, but we had to defend and control the opponent in a way that we saw fit with a man down. There were still incidents throughout that second-half that went against us consistently. Their centre-half committed a foul in the second-half that should have been a second yellow - the referee gave the free-kick but no second yellow. There was a penalty we should have had when Tom Hopper was fouled but he gave offside, even though Tom was three yards onside. He also flagged for Hakeeb (Adelakun) being offside but he hadn’t even gone for the ball. The free-kick they scored from was not a foul and then there were question marks over whether the ball went over the line or not. I’ve tried to explain everything I remember but there were lots of big decisions and game-changing points that went against us today.

I think Kev and Duane combined brilliantly for the first goal and Haks got into one of those goalscoring positions we’re constantly encouraging him to be in. We know he can score – he has great finishing abilities and great composure. It was a fantastic finish. The second was good play again, and Kev was there to knock in the rebound. At that point, we were looking comfortable to be fair, after a dodgy start. I thought they bossed the first 15 minutes and had a couple of opportunities, but once we got through that and scored the goal we were comfortable. The (Neal Bishop sending off) incident changed the rest of the game.

I think Bish got his arms up to protect himself from a challenge that came from behind. He went to head the ball and has caught the lad around his chest or the bottom of his neck. I thought it was 48 minutes of pressure from the (MK Dons) bench to make some sort of big decision against us. That’s what it was all game, so we’re disappointed about that. It was beyond the time though. At the end of the game, I could hear communication about there being four minutes (of added time) and there were five. A lot of things went on today that I’m not happy about but I don’t want that to take the focus away from our players and what they had to put into the game, against a very strong squad with lots of good players, to come out with a point.

"I’m delighted with all the players because they put a lot into today."

Graham Alexander, manage

They did really well. We knew we had to give up a bit of territory but we still carried an attacking threat. We got into a certain position where we missed a really good opportunity with the rebound off the goalkeeper as well (Adelakun’s shot was blocked before Cameron Burgess headed over), there was a penalty we should have had too. These are things where when you’re up against it with ten men, you have to earn. I think we did, but the decisions didn’t go our way. What I saw from the players was great. They stuck to their tactical instruction to the letter and made it really difficult. In the end, they were left to pumping balls into the box towards a couple of big men and got a goal out of it.

We had to use all the players that were on the pitch, but Matt Gilks put in a big performance today. He was fantastic and I’m devastated for him that we didn’t get the win. Even for the equalising goal, he fantastically reached it and there were question marks over whether it went over the line or not. I’m delighted with all the players because they put a lot into today. There was a lot of mental fatigue because of the concentration, and discipline required. When we did threaten in an attacking sense, we could have scored too.

Rory picked up something towards the end of the Walsall game last week. He didn’t think it was anything major, just a bit of tightness, but it kept him out of today’s game so we’re disappointed with that. We will address his rehab this week to see how he responds to it and if he can be part of the squad next week. Paddy Madden was ill on Friday during training. Bish will be suspended now, while Andrew Crofts had to come off after twisting his ankle a little bit. We’re up against it. We had 16 fit outfield players today and may have lost two of them.

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