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McCall: We started so lacklustre

27 November 2018

“I’m really disappointed in the start we made to the game,” summed up Stuart McCall’s initial thoughts when he spoke after the 2-0 away League One defeat at Southend United on Tuesday night.

Timothee Dieng put the hosts in front with an early headed goal at Roots Hall, before James Perch was sent off for receiving two yellow cards.

The victory was sealed with ten minutes left on the clock when ex-Iron Sam Mantom smashed home a volley.

McCall told iFollow Iron: “You can throw all the excuses out there – long journey, a lot of people missing – but we just started so lacklustre. We wanted to be on the front foot – we know they’re quite fragile at this moment in time, but I was really disappointed and angry in the start we made. 

“They got a good goal from their point of view, with the midfielder arriving late. We talked about being aware of people coming into the box and putting our heads on the ball when crosses came in. Yet again, we lose another goal from a cross into the box and a free header. Even prior to that, and thereafter it, we looked edgy, nervy and were slow and ponderous on the ball. We weren’t sharp, bright and didn’t look to have any energy. 

“Obviously going down to ten men had a big bearing on us. We got to half-time and I don’t want to keep having to ask for reactions at half-time, but I think for biggest part of (the second half) you wouldn’t have thought we had ten men. Fair play to them about that, we had opportunities.

“We had players out of position – Rory (McArdle) at right-back, Perchy (James Perch) at left-back and George Thomas in the middle of the park because we’re low on midfield players at this moment in time, and Ike (Ugbo) playing on the right. It’s not a shape I wanted to go with tonight but because of a lack of people in certain areas of the pitch – key players in Funso (Ojo), Lundy (Matthew Lund) and the full-backs being out. We’ll have to regroup and look at what we do on Sunday.

“I think the overall thing was the disappointing start we made to the game and we weren’t up for it.”

Speaking about the dismissal of Perch for two yellow cards, he said:

“I thought the first tackle was a really good tackle and, watching it again, he gets the ball – no problem – but it’s from behind. The second time he wins the ball and the lad makes a meal of it. He could have given a warning for the second and I don’t think it needed to be a yellow card (resulting in a red) but that put our backs to the wall.

“In the last minute, the boy elbows Yas (Yasin Ben El-Mhanni) in the back and sends him to the ground – it’s a stonewall penalty kick – and he just plays on. Novs (Lee Novak) was wanting one for the cross that he felt resulted in handball too.

“However, I don’t want to blame anyone else but ourselves tonight for the poor start we made in the game – certainly in the first 30 minutes. We looked edgy and nervy, making wrong decisions and just had poor quality on the ball in truth.”

McCall was wanting to go with a different approach at Roots Hall but was rocked by two further injuries to Lund and Lewis Butroid in the run-up to the match.

He said: “After Saturday we knew two of the lads were out (Ojo and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson) and I had a way in mind in which we were going to play tonight. Then we came in on Monday and Lundy’s foot was like a balloon, and then Butty in training, although he felt it in the game on Saturday and flagged it up as a bit of stiffness, made a pass, slipped and his hamstring’s gone.

“It’s killed us a little bit, because we’ve only got one central midfielder in Horse (James Horsfield). We’ve tried to play George and Josh next to him to bolster that area up because we knew they’d go with three in there. I’d have had Perchy there and Butty would have stayed at left-back, with us going a different way.

“Lundy’s travelled all the way down with us today to try and give himself the best chance of being fit, but there was no chance with his foot the way it was. We had a scan on Monday and thankfully there are no broken bones in there, just severe bruising and massive swelling. He couldn’t get his boot on. But they are the type of characters we need – people who want to be here and try to be available.

“Butty is going to be a little while. It’s a pull to his hamstring unfortunately.

“CBJ (Borthwick-Jackson) might have a possibility (of being fit for Shrewsbury away in the FA Cup). He’s had a scan again today and come through clear with regards the bang on his foot. It just depends on his pain threshold but he might be possibly back for Sunday.

“Funso went for his scan today and we’ve not got the results of that back yet but I doubt he’ll be available (for the weekend).

“Dalesy (Andy Dales) has come off today and is struggling with his groin, which happened following a challenge on him. It was another impact one.

“It’s not a time to feel sorry for ourselves, we have a challenge on and we know we need to start getting back to picking points up.

“We were talking about today and looking up, and if we win today can we build up and start looking at getting into the top half, but we are where we are. We’ve got to regroup, hopefully it will become easier when we get the key players back, but up until then we have to fight, scrap and make the most of what we’ve got.

“We’ll have a rethink and really look to go to Shrewsbury, who have won tonight and will give us a tough game, and get through in the FA Cup to give us a lift.”

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