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McCall reflects on Luton clash

26 December 2018

Iron manager Stuart McCall felt it might have been a different story had his team taken advantage during their spell of dominance in the first-half of the home clash against Luton Town.

United had chances during that period but eventually lost 2-0 to the high-flying Hatters at Glanford Park, with Andrew Shinnie and Harry Cornick on target.

McCall told iFollow Iron: “We grew into the game, got a little bit of a foothold in it and then missed a glorious chance. When you’re down where we are at the moment and not winning games and not scoring goals, you have to take the chances when they come along.

“Yas (Yasin Ben El-Mhanni) volleyed over the bar at the back post from four yards and it could have been a different game if we’d managed to get our noses in front.

“They then scored a good goal from their point of view, we came in at half-time and I was actually pleased with the effort and togetherness that was shown against a good side.

“In the second-half, the goal we gave away was like something from a bloopers video again. We have to take responsibility, someone has to take the ball, There was absolutely no danger in the middle of the park. It’s either Levi’s (Sutton) or Charlie’s (Goode), they both leave it, and the boy runs on, shoots and it’s a goal.

“From then on they were in comfort mode and showed what a strong side they are. They know their roles. We’re nowhere near that level at the moment but would have still had an opportunity at 1-0 down to keep going and trying to get a goal. The second goal again flattened everything.

“It’s disappointing because they all gave their all in the first-half. We had a couple of little chances and looked as if we could get something out of the game. We didn’t chuck it or anything but as soon as the second goal goes in it makes it an uphill battle. We’re all aware that we’re not only giving soft goals away but we’re not scoring. It’s a bad mix at this moment in time, but we just have to stick at it. We’ll be in tomorrow preparing for Saturday and hopefully we can get something against Wycombe.”

He added: “We’re in a tough place at this moment in time naturally but all you can do is demand the best from each other and that’s what we’re trying to get out of them. Saturday is another opportunity to hopefully get something on the board.

“It’s so frustrating because the crowd appreciated the effort of the lads in the first half especially and got behind them. It’s hard for everybody - the staff, players and certainly the supporters. We have to stay together and stick at it. You can’t feel sorry for yourself, you have to keep demanding and demanding.”

There was one change to the team ahead of the game, with McCall explaining more about the injury that ruled Jordan Clarke out.

The manager said: “It’s desperate for Jordan. Unfortunately in the last five minutes at Bradford he just flicked at a ball and felt a bit of pain in his knee. After a scan, it revealed his lateral ligament had been damaged and he’ll be going for an operation next week at some stage, and will be out for a minimum of three months. We’re feeling for Jordan and it’s a nightmare for us because he’s one of our better players.”

Ben El-Mhanni came into the side for Clarke, as United changed system, and McCall added: “He’s exciting and bright. There are lots of positives going forward but the negatives can be the defensive side of it, which you get from wide men. He gave what we expected today. He was positive and not affected by a lack of confidence because he hasn’t been playing. We swapped him in the second-half and played him on the left so I could talk him through the game because he naturally doesn’t know the game as such in terms of where to be and positionally. They have two attacking full-backs that bomb on too.”

Wycombe Wanderers are the next visitors to Glanford Park on Saturday and McCall’s hoping that will be the moment when the form turns.

He stated: “We have 60+ points to play for, you put a couple of wins back-to-back and you can get out of that bottom four and start looking up the table.”

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