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McCall: It was a flat game

16 February 2019

Manager Stuart McCall was disappointed with defeat away at Gillingham on Saturday afternoon, but also believes his side were unlucky to lose, in a game which provided tough playing conditions for both sets of teams.

The Iron fell to a 1-0 defeat at Priestfield, as Mark Byrne scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half with the Gills’ only shot on target in 90 minutes to seal the win. 

Speaking to iFollow Iron after the game, McCall provided his assessment of the Gillingham encounter and said: “It was a scrappy game, I thought there was only going to be one goal in it - it was just down to who was going to score first. Unfortunately for us, they scored it with their only shot on target. It was a good strike, we let them get out on the far side, and we could have maybe got a tackle in earlier, but the boy has hit it sweetly from 25-yards straight into the corner. 

“Then, Tom (Pearce) hits a shot for us, it was a great strike, and the goalkeeper pulls off a fantastic save in the top corner. I think the pitch didn’t produce the best football, but we didn’t do enough to get back into the game.  

“It’s a bit sore when you lose to their only shot on target, and other than that, they didn’t really threaten us. The same can be said for us, though I thought we were good from set-plays. Rory (McArdle) had a header in the first half saved, and then a near post header that went just wide. Kyle (Wootton) then had a header wide, as did Cam (Burgess).  

“We thought they might play with a diamond, and we needed to get the wing-backs high to get them on the ball, but we didn’t switch the play enough.  

“The pitch was lively and bumpy, but the touch on the ball wasn’t ideal at times. We then started to push a bit higher up, however the final ball was lacking. Overall, it was disappointing in a flat game, and it was never going to be high scoring on that sort of pitch, with a lack of creativity from both sides."

He continued by saying it could have been a different outcome on another day: “We have to pass the ball from one side to the other when we are playing against a diamond. We knew how they were going to play. I tried to get the boys at the back to step in as well because on surfaces like that, you can’t be playing the ball around the back. 

“They were a handful up front, so I thought the three defenders did well to handle their threat. We tried to change it in search of getting something from the game by putting Fela (Olufela Olomola) on and the two wide men (Adam Hammill and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni), but they managed to get their noses in front, and held on. It was disappointing because we could have created more chances to get back into the game.” 

Going into the match, McCall was forced into making one change from the side that beat Accrington last time out. Lee Novak picked up an injury in that game, and was replaced in the starting eleven by Kevin van Veen, who was fresh from netting his first goal since re-joining the club in January.

Speaking about that, the manager said: “Kevin worked hard enough, but we didn’t get enough control of the play to give him enough service. Fela has also been doing well in training and in the games, so we thought we could use his pace and run in behind, but it didn’t quite work out that way.” 

However, looking ahead to next week, the Iron host local rivals Doncaster at Glanford Park, as they look to return to winning ways.

He added: ‘We had a word today about next week, but every game is important, and I hope we can get as many points as we can, as quickly as we can. Next week against Doncaster will be a different game completely.  

“We’ve played against them a couple of times already this season in the league and the cup, and we know the atmosphere will be big because they have a good following, so we will be ready for that.”

See much more from Stuart McCall and Jak Alnwick on iFollow Iron.


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