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Alexander reacts to point at Gillingham

26 September 2017

Manager Graham Alexander provided his reaction to iFollow Iron after the 0-0 away League One draw at Gillingham on Tuesday night.

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Photos: Gillingham (A)

26 September 2017

The stalemate at Priestfield made it seven points out of the last nine available, while United also made it seven clean sheets out of the last eight games in the league.

While pleased with those aspects, the boss was disappointed not to take all three points home from Kent.

ON THE GAME…
GA: We’re obviously frustrated that we didn’t have the quality over the course of the 90 minutes to break them down and score. I thought in the first half we were a little bit sloppy in our play and didn’t really get our game going. We gave some easy possession away at times. You have to give Gillingham credit though, they set up in a different way and I think there was an obvious reaction from their last result and the change (in management). We had to overcome that and I thought we did that in the second half. We played much better, with more composure and better attacking play. We just needed to get that goal at a vital time, and open them up a little bit. We had a couple of good opportunities. Their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves from Duane Holmes and Tom Hopper. They were difficult angles to score from, but they worked the goalkeeper and on another night we win 1-0. I spoke to the players at the end, and we know we didn’t play as well as we could have, but it’s important you take something from the game. We’ve done that – we have a valuable point and a clean sheet.

ON SEVEN CLEAN SHEETS FROM THE LAST EIGHT LEAGUE GAMES…
GA: It’s the basis of results, and hopefully winning games. You keep a clean sheet and you’re guaranteed a point, and tonight is a case in point of that, but we know what we want to do and how many games we have to win. Coming on the back of two fantastic wins, seven points from nine isn’t a bad tally and we know over the course of a season these points can be the difference in where you finish. We have to take the positives from it, but we know we can improve – especially on the ball and do things better. You have to give Gillingham credit though. They played in a way that contained us and prevented us from getting our game going – in the first half it worked, but we were better in the second half and got the upper hand. We just couldn’t get that end bit of quality in the final third around the box. When we managed that, we found a very big goalkeeper in the way.

"Coming on the back of two fantastic wins, seven points from nine isn’t a bad tally and we know over the course of a season these points can be the difference in where you finish."

Graham Alexander, manager

ON TOM HOPPER STARTING IN PLACE OF LEE NOVAK…
GA: It was with what happened at the weekend in mind. I was a little bit worried that it was a warning for us. We haven’t had Lee with us through pre-season and from the start of the season, so we don’t know exactly what he’s done (in terms of fitness base work), and that’s always a concern. He’s come into the team, played three or four games and led the line really well – working his socks off. He just had a little niggle of cramp. We brought him off on Saturday and I just thought with two tough games in quick succession, and having the good players we have who can come into the team, it was prudent to do that. I’d have loved to go through the game without having to use him, but we felt his qualities were needed at that time, and I thought we got a real foothold in the game when he came on. We just had to make sure he was okay. We don’t want to lose any players at this stage of the season.

ON THE 158 AWAY FANS…
GA: I didn’t think there would be that many, but it’s fantastic support and we really appreciate it. We know how long the journey is, especially for a midweek game down at Gillingham. After our last result here, I could forgive no-one coming down, but they came here and supported the boys. They’ve seen their team get another valuable point. Hopefully they’re content with that on the long trip back and we’ll see them again on Saturday.

ON SATURDAY’S GAME AT LEAGUE LEADERS SHREWSBURY…
GA: They’ve had a great start. We’ll focus on them now, but we’re looking to improve our performance. We want the same effort, determination and defensive solidity, but with a bit more composure and guile going forward. It will be two good teams going at each other, both going for the win. We look forward to it.

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