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McCall’s post-Gillingham assessment

8 December 2018

Manager Stuart McCall said the way his side started the game was the most disappointing aspect of the 2-0 home defeat to Gillingham on Saturday.

Second-half goals from Tom Eaves and Dean Parrett gave the Kent side the win at Glanford Park. Eaves could have scored another goal, but he missed his penalty kick in the 79th minute.

McCall told iFollow Iron: “Naturally, like everyone, I’m hugely disappointed. Like every game is, no matter who you play, it’s a chance to get three points and start climbing the table. 

“I think the biggest disappointment is the way we started. I expected us to come out and be on the front foot and aggressive – put a marker down, play in their half, get balls into the box and opportunities at goal. We played a diamond system which allowed us to get two up the park and match up with them really, but individually they had the far better players on the pitch on the day and there’s no doubt about that. 

“I think we got away with it in the first 20 minutes because they could have got a couple of goals. We then came into it and it was even up to half-time, with us at least showing a bit more and putting a few passes together. 

“Obviously, confidence is not at the highest but you get to half-time and you regroup. We’ve had a couple of good second-half performances here and that’s what we’re after, but it’s killing us, losing the first goal. We needed to get that and the manner was so disappointing – we were fortunate when the boy had a great effort which came back off the post, but the ball came in and we can’t let the top goalscorer (Eaves) in the league have all that time to bring it down on his chest and put it in the goal. It’s just not acceptable and not good enough, and we know that.

“To lose another one straight after just flattens everything. After that, we huffed and puffed. We had to put four up the park and were always going to be open to the counter-attack. In our first games (after taking over), we were going ahead, and then it gives you something to build on. When you’re on a run like we’re on, losing games, you need to get the first goal and something to grasp hold of, and we’re not doing that at the moment. It’s about getting a result, getting that belief and a spark again.

“It’s our job to lift the crowd, and get them excited. We didn’t do that. It was a really poor day. It was a limp performance really throughout the game. We didn’t create too many opportunities, although we had a couple of free headers we could have done better with. Overall, it was scrappy from us.

“You’re not going to see free flowing football at the moment because the confidence is not high and we’re losing games. We need to find a way to win, but first and foremost the two goals conceded so quickly did the damage and mentally we have to be stronger.”

McCall explained Matthew Lund was withdrawn during the second-half due to a knee issue. 

He said: “We had Lundy and big Charlie (Goode), who on Thursday both had a 30 per cent chance of playing, but they came in on Friday and declared themselves fit. Lundy is Lundy and would play with a broken leg if he had to – that’s his attitude. He has a problem with his knee and will get it scanned on Monday – hence the reason we brought him off. Charlie just healed up (hip flexor) and both were desperate to play.”

Next Saturday sees United make the trip to take on local rivals Doncaster Rovers (12.15pm kick-off), and McCall and his staff face the task of picking the players up this week.

He continued: “The lads’ heads are down naturally and we have to find a way this week again. It’s hard work and basics. 

“Everyone will have Doncaster down as a home banker after their result today, but that’s football. As a coaching staff, we have to motivate these players. In the first 25 minutes, we looked so flat and then improved, but the two goals did the damage. Nothing other than hard work will get us out of this, and putting 11 out there next week for who this means everything to them. We’ll be massive underdogs the way we’re performing at the moment, but Doncaster don’t concern me, it’s us who concern me and we have to be better than we are.”

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