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Alexander delighted with reaction to setback

23 December 2017

Manager Graham Alexander was delighted with the way his team reacted to a setback and went on to beat Southend United 3-1 on Saturday.

Match Reports

Report: Iron v Southend United

23 December 2017

Scunthorpe went behind to a Jason Demetriou strike, but Kevin van Veen equalised before Conor Townsend notched and Michael Turner scored an own goal.

Alexander provided his reaction to iFollow Iron after the game, as United started the Christmas period in style.

The players were superb today. We went 1-0 down to a deflected goal against the run of play, but we didn’t let the disappointment affect us and continued in the same vein. We deservedly won the game, were excellent on the ball and moved it really quickly. We looked after it and I felt the two strikers were exceptional in the way they brought the others into play and the threat they offered. That was the base of the rest of the team really – individually I could go through every single player and talk through their high points, because they were superb. The goal was against the run of play, because their goalkeeper made a couple of great saves. We should have been leading at that point. It would have been easy for the players to think ‘here, we go again’. We talk about reacting well to disappointments, not letting it affect our focus and concentrating on the game. I thought we did that on the day, and that’s why we won the game. We stuck to what we were doing and had other opportunities to score. I’m really pleased for the players because they’ve worked hard this week. We’ve been depleted on numbers but they found a way to win a tough game of football.

He’s come into the team with a real zest to do well. It was frustrating for him against MK Dons last week, starting in the league for the first time in a long time, and having to come off at half-time because of us going down to ten men. He was really positive about it, understood and has trained very well this week. He took that training performance into the game. Personally, I felt that was his best game for us. I told him when he came off that he was fantastic. I thought he and Hops (Tom Hopper) gave us that edge up front and it gave the team a lot of confidence. The way the players played off them, they were the hub of the good play going forward and allowed the other lads to get into good attacking areas. I was delighted to see that today. Josh Morris and Funso Ojo were excellent on the ball, moving it quickly into areas where we want to play, and they were really solid. It was a really good day for us and I’m pleased for the fans that they saw us do it on the day.

Funso has been a frustrating one because we thought we’d have him back a week or 10 days ago, but it wasn’t the case. We know what he brings into the team. He has composure, experience and tactical nous. When you ask him to take things onto the pitch, he really does – he has that knowledge. We felt with the change of shape, Conor Townsend would suit that position going forward and he was superb, as was Duane Holmes on the other side. They were an attacking threat, as well as committed to the defensive duties. We felt the formation suited the players we had available for this game and we wanted to get as many good players out on that pitch as possible to take the game to Southend. I felt we did that. Funso will be fine. He’s a tough lad and has been so frustrated at being out of the team with this niggle he had. He didn’t want to admit that he was actually injured – we had to draw it out of him but he was definitely affected. He’s been chomping at the bit to be back involved in the team. We could have possibly risked him last week but if we’d have lost him for a significant period of time it would have been a double blow. We look after the players properly and don’t risk their health and fitness. He connects the play from back to front really well.

Me and Nick (Daws) on the side were screaming to wait, but it was a great spot from Haks and Conor showed great composure. It’s brilliant to see players taking the initiative and understanding the game. It takes courage to do that. It was a great bit of play from both those lads, and I’m glad we took the lead because we deserved it.

I didn’t see the goal properly until afterwards but it was a great delivery. Our set-pieces were better today and the lads making runs were disciplined with their runs. We’ve been a bit loose on that in the last few games and just decided to do something different. They all have positions and runs that interlink with each other so we can get into areas and score goals. We did that really well today. It was a great ball from Hakeeb and a goal we deserved.

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