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Daws reflects on point against Bradford and discovering play-off opponents

5 May 2018

United’s interim manager Nick Daws felt a point was the fair result after the 1-1 home draw against Bradford City closed the regular League One season.

Matthew Kilgallon’s header gave the Bantams the lead early in the second-half but Conor Townsend soon levelled, showing tenacity to score his fourth goal of the season.

Saturday’s results meant the Iron finished fifth in League One and will face fourth-placed Rotherham United in the play-off semi-finals, with the first leg set to take place on Saturday, May 12th (12.30pm kick-off).

The game will see Daws take on his former club and he spoke to iFollow Iron about that, as well as the draw against the Bantams.

I thought it was a fair result. I don’t think we did enough to win the game, and I don’t think Bradford did either. Their biggest threat was from set-plays, with Tony McMahon’s delivery outstanding as we know. I’m pleased we got through unscathed and unbeaten over the last six weeks, which was important. I always knew it was going to be a difficult game, because ones like this are. All of a sudden, the temperature has doubled and we put five boys in there who have not played as regularly over recent months so that was always going to be a challenge and we stood up to that task really well. The only player physically that we had a question mark over was Marnick Vermijl, who had to come off but got 80 minutes in which was great. We started well and Josh (Morris) hit the bar. Our final pass was just awry, and that’s the overriding disappointment that our detail in the final third was just missing. Bradford went into the game in the right manner as well, they showed commitment and I expected nothing less. We’re pleased to come away with a point.

All the players have upped their game in recent weeks and Conor is one in particular who is such an attacking threat for us. He goes under the radar a little bit in terms of his personality. He’s had a spell out of the team this year, when Murray Wallace played instead of him which was frustrating for him. He looks like he’s getting better and better.

We needed to see how many of our squad could complete 90 minutes, or at least 60-70 minutes because if the team from Tuesday night is the team that starts against Rotherham, and that’s not certain in any way or fashion, and we get an injury in the first minute then somebody has got 90 minutes to play, and that could be any of the boys who played today or those who didn’t. I think it’s worked out just about right for us. It’s the reason we made the changes, we focused on players who were slightly at risk of picking something up in terms of their physicality. The ones we left in were strong and robust, and they got through it fine as far as I know.

I’m really looking forward to it. It’s my former club and the reason I moved over to South Yorkshire 17 years ago. I had incredible times there as a player, going back into the Championship and playing for three seasons with a great group of players. As a club, since then, it’s been an absolute rollercoaster. I was part of the staff there too and went through two administrations, numerous points deductions, a forced move to the Don Valley Stadium and we had to change on the side pitch of the Keepmoat Stadium with no training facilities. We just had to dig in. Since then, the club has managed to get back into the Championship and they have a strong set-up. (Their manager) Paul Warne is a good friend of mine, and the staff Richie Barker and Mike Pollitt, have done a fine job. Knowing them, I had no doubts they would get into the play-offs and with a fair wind they could have achieved even more. That shows how tough this league is. They have a good group of players and a squad with lots of threats, but so have we.

The only thing I know for certain is there’s no way, win or lose, that he’ll buy me a pint. I think he’s said that himself so he’s not giving away any trade secrets. We went for a coffee last May/June which he paid for, and I said I owe him one so I have no doubt he’ll remember that! That was just to talk about football, our futures, give each other advice and be sounding boards. That’s what it should be like, we’re all at the sharp end, and it can be stressful and time-consuming. You don’t get much time for family and holidays until it’s all over. My wife will be devastated because it’s our 25th wedding anniversary this summer and we were planning a nice two-week holiday, which we don’t usually get. I’m hoping it will be kyboshed because that will revert to a week at best if we get to the final. I’m really pleased though and looking forward to facing Warney.

It’s very rare that teams that have got into the play-offs have got back in there – for example Bradford, Fleetwood and Walsall. It’s hard bouncing back from a play-off defeat. Everyone has contributed, that goes back to all those who have left us. It’s been a bit of a rocky road but we’ve picked it up over the past six weeks which I’m really proud of. We’re now looking to finish the job.

It’s just a normal game, what’s gone before is not worth a penny. It’s the here and now for us, and that’s recovering tonight and tomorrow, and preparing again from Monday with the squad back in and building momentum in our training this week.

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