Iron manager Paul Hurst commended his team’s determination against a top side in Forest Green, as United extended their winning run to five successive matches.
United won 2-0 at the New Lawn - and in convincing fashion - thanks to screamers from Alex Gilliead and Abo Eisa. The home side sat in second place heading into the clash, but it was the Iron who emerged victorious on the day.
The manager told iFollow Iron: “It was a very hard-earned victory, but two fantastic strikes that were worthy of winning a game of football. We had a little scare right at the end, but I wanted that clean sheet for the players.”
With neither side able to break the deadlock in the first half, the Iron conceded a penalty early in the second period, but Jake Eastwood did well to deny Matty Stevens from 12 yards.
Hurst said: “Jake saved it and people will say it’s not a good penalty, but if he dives out of the way, it becomes a good penalty. That seemed to give us a bit of encouragement, to up the game a bit.
“We started to keep the ball better, and scored two very good goals. I thought the penalty was soft, someone said there was a tug but I’ll have to have a look again, it doesn’t matter because he gave it, but thankfully Jake saved it.
“I think the referee’s been almost fooled today, so many people thought they had some kind of relationship with the grass, rolling around on it. It made the game difficult for either side to get a rhythm.
“Every game is different and they’re not all pretty, I don’t think it was our best performance, but if you come to second in the league, keep a clean sheet and win the game, you’re doing something right. The players' organisation, discipline and resilience shone through, as well as carrying a threat.”
Both goals were undoubtedly goal of the month, and potentially season contenders, and the boss was delighted with the finishes.
Hurst stated: “They were great strikes. I thought in the first half we didn’t put the ball in the box enough, the few times we did, they looked a bit edgy. I wanted more of that second half, but as it turned out, the two goals came from players who would offer that route to goal."
In added time at the end of the match, Levi Sutton picked up his second booking of the match for a harsh foul in the middle of the pitch, and the manager certainly considers his side unfortunate in that sense.
He said: “We seem a little bit cursed in there (midfield) at the minute, but he (Sutton) says he got the ball, but I think we knew what was coming, I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone. I’m disappointed for him, he grew into the game and did better as it went along, but now another change is required for next week.
“Yann (Songo’o) is back training, hopefully we can get him feeling good through more training this week. There’s John McAtee there as well, but I just thought away from home, Levi probably suited how we’re lining up currently.
“It’s a squad game though, which is what I keep telling them. People might be sat there thinking, we’re pretty settled at the minute, but there can always be a change.”
Six Iron players were booked in total, across the 90 minutes, and it seemed like a red card was always a possibility given the pattern of the match. The gaffer said: “I think with the very first booking, I said to the fourth official, he’s kind of set his stall out there. I thought they missed a lot of pulls on shirts, they eventually booked the right back, who consequently didn’t re-appear for the second half.
“Stood here now I’m frustrated, but Levi in all honesty wasn’t the one I was thinking about replacing, that was James Perch and Kevin van Veen. We said early in the second half, we’re wary of the situation we’re in. Unfortunately, Levi’s given the referee a decision to make, and I can understand why it was given, but even if he did get the ball we can’t appeal because it’s two yellows.”
The Iron were previously in action against Blackpool in the Leasing.com Trophy, which left a 10-day gap until the Forest Green fixture, and the boss said: “I thought we were rusty and it took us quite a while to really get into the game. I know what people think I can be like at times, and we did well in some ways, but it wasn’t our best performance.
“On the ball we can be better, and we were in the second half. It looked like we needed that first 45 to get back into the swing of playing games.”
In the second half, the referee stopped the game momentarily to discuss alleged racial abuse coming from the stands, and the boss gave his take on the matter.
He said: “I wondered what was going on initially, and then the referee came over. He said the fourth official had been made aware of a racist comment towards Jordan Clarke. The referee said there were no plans to stop the game at the time. I felt the announcement (over the tannoy) helped everyone understand it in the stadium, and have some sympathy.
“People then understood why he halted the game. I have to say, some of the Forest Green fans behind the goal were singing towards the individual who made the comment. It is unacceptable, we all know that, Forest Green have been very good after the game. I’m sure if they can find the individual then they’ll be dealt with.”
Hurst continued to insist that this incident was an isolated one, and other Forest Green fans shouldn’t be tarnished with the same brush.
He added: “It’s unfair on them. Forest Green get a lot of positive press, and rightly so. They do things differently, and there’s a lot of good that goes on here. I don’t think that one individual reflects Forest Green.”
See much more from Paul Hurst, Alex Gilliead and Jake Eastwood on iFollow Iron.