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McCall: The least we deserved

19 January 2019

Iron manager Stuart McCall was full of praise for his players after they battled back to extend their unbeaten run to five games, drawing 1-1 at home to high-flying Sunderland.

Josh Maja’s goal early in the second-half was cancelled out by a wonder goal by substitute debutant Adam Hammill in the closing stages.

McCall felt a point was the least United deserved, telling iFollow Iron: “It would have been an absolute travesty had we not got something out of the game. But I suppose when you’re 1-0 down with three minutes to go, you take it.

“Looking at the game as a whole, I’m really pleased with the performance. In the first-half, we created three excellent chances. Novs (Lee Novak) had a volley but it just arrived too high for him. Then we had another chance when Novs put George (Thomas) in one-on-one on the goalkeeper and their goalkeeper made a good save. We worked another corner and then Perchy (James Perch) headed over. 

“We came in at half-time a little aggrieved that we weren’t ahead against a good side on the break. They play 4-4-2 and have pacy wingers, and good players. The only disappointment in the whole game is we switched off for one second, and let Maja across us to score. 

“We showed clips of what he does and that’s what he tends to do, getting across the front post, so that’s disappointing. In the whole spectrum of the game, we kept a good side really quiet and even in the second-half we had another go, forcing opportunities and saves. CBJ (Cameron Borthwick-Jackson) met one at the back post, catching it under his feet, while Rory (McArdle) had a header from a wide set-play, which went inches wide. 

“We were knocking on the door and thankfully Hammy scored with a fantastic strike - one that deserved to win a game, but we’ll take a point. Hammy has fantastic composure and his finish was sublime. It was beautiful and a great goal.”

McCall stuck with the same team for a third game in a row, rewarding those who had played a key part in four straight victories before the clash with the Black Cats.

“I said during the week that they’d all trained really well this week – also the likes of Olufela Olomola, who couldn’t even get in the 18 today, and the other lads. That’s pleasing. Sometimes your football club is only as strong as your bench, and you can see how strong our bench is at the moment.

“We’re becoming hard to play against and we can actually play too. The lads are confident and played some really good football at times. The substitutes came on and played their part too.

“Sometimes you can win games scrappily but today the all-round performance gives confidence going forward and ahead. The lads are in a good place. As they should be, because a lot of them are playing at the top of their game at the moment.

“It was a big decision throughout the week, do we go with a different system? We knew they had full-backs who could bomb on and sometimes if you have that diamond, the full-backs can exploit that. We played slightly different and the work ethic in the middle of the park is excellent. You look at the chances we created in the first half, and we restricted them to very little.”

Next up for United is a trip to Fleetwood Town next Saturday, as Scunthorpe seek to extend their unbeaten run and get another victory.

McCall said: “It can’t come quick enough. Spin it back four weeks and you’re in a rut, you don’t want a game for ages. When you put in a performance like that it gives you confidence for the future. We’re looking to bring teams in above us. Fleetwood will be another difficult fixture but we certainly go in a confident manner, with players on top of their game.

“We have a behind-closed-doors game at Middlesbrough against what will probably be their reserve side on Tuesday, which is great and gives the lads who haven’t been starting a chance to get a full 90 minutes under their belts. It will be invaluable and give me more food for thought ahead of the Fleetwood game.”

Speaking about the crowd of 7,263, which was the best at the stadium for three years, McCall explained: “We knew Sunderland would bring a big vocal support but the fans really got behind us, even when we were a goal down. The all-round quality of the game and atmosphere was really good. We’ve not won but we’ve sent most people home happy and that’s what we aim to do.”

See much more from Stuart McCall, Rory McArdle and Adam Hammill on iFollow Iron. Click here to sign up.

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