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Alexander reacts to play-off loss

7 May 2017

Iron manager Graham Alexander expressed a feeling of disappointment after seeing his side defeated 3-2 by Millwall in their play-off semi-final second leg.

Ivan Toney opened the scoring before Steve Morison’s brace and a Lee Gregory header put the Lions in control and whilst Stephen Dawson did grab a late second, that was how things remained.

Evidently downbeat with the eventual outcome, Alexander told The Iron PlayerHD: “I’m guessing everyone that is associated with our club is feeling exactly the same thing.

“That’s the pain of defeat and not getting the success that we felt was within our grasp because of what we’ve done over the course of the season.

“It’s a sore one because I felt we did a great job down there at Millwall (in the first leg) and if we’d performed as we’d performed in other games this season at home especially then we would have been good enough to go through.

“We didn’t really reach that level if I’m being honest and I thought the goal just before half-time gave Millwall a massive lift – it would have been different going in at 1-0.

“The two goals in quick succession in the second-half then really knocked us for a little period.

“I thought the players then picked themselves up, we were on the front foot and got a fantastic goal back from Daws but just needed that other break to take it into extra-time.

“I really believed that we were going to get that goal but Millwall defended very well and they go through.”

There’s no doubt it has been a sensational season for United, with the team maintaining a serious promotion challenge throughout the whole campaign.

Keen to highlight the positives of the year as a whole, Alexander was quick to heap praise on his squad of players, whilst acknowledging their frustration.

“There’s no way of cheering myself, the players or the supporters up but we have to take it on the chin,” he continued.

“In a few weeks, we’ll look back and think of all the good stuff we’ve done this season which there has been plenty of.

“We’ve just fallen at this hurdle and it’s a sore one to take.

“Each year, you want to improve and go one better and we’ve certainly done that. We missed out on the play-offs by goal difference last year and we’ve missed out on automatic promotion by one position this year so we’ve certainly improved.

“The players have been superb, the work they’ve put in since day one of pre-season, the way we set the pace for a long time, the way we responded to the dip to win seven of the last nine games was unbelievable from everybody involved.

“I had a feeling that we would be successful. I really believed that we would do it, but that’s the reality of football.

“We live on a knife edge and unfortunately we’ve fallen on the wrong side of the line of success tonight.”

The squad will now rest and recuperate following a frantic year before their return for pre-season training ahead of another push for third tier success in August.

Insistent that the team must get even better come the next campaign, Alexander stressed his belief that the chance to achieve their goals will arrive again.

He added: “We have to make sure we get it out of our system before we start pre-season training because the opportunity to be successful will be there again.

“We have to make sure we’re ready to take it but it will be difficult.

“We’ve had a fantastic season so to go on and improve again will be difficult but I believe we have a very good squad.

“The mentality of the squad is good, the technical ability is good and we’ll just have to improve to help the club progress.

“Everyone will be trying to get better and there are big clubs coming down and up so it’ll be just as competitive as it was this year

“I not really given much thought into after tonight but I’ll have a couple of days to get my thoughts together and then well sit down and see how we can improve.

“We’ll have to work hard but the players have shown this season that we’re not far away.”

See much more from Graham Alexander and Murray Wallace on The Iron PlayerHD.

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