“Just really frustrated, disappointed, angry. It’s a game we should never have lost,” was how manager Stuart McCall summed up his emotions after the 2-1 away loss at Oxford United on Saturday.
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Scunthorpe conceded two second-half Jerome Sinclair goals before George Thomas pulled one back late on, as they suffered defeat at the Kassam Stadium.
McCall told iFollow Iron: “We came in at half-time having controlled the game and kept them quiet. We thought the home side would come out and have a right go, but we took the sting out of the game and had a couple of opportunities.
“We drummed into the lads at half-time that we need to do more to win it, but what we can’t do is lose the game. We must keep focused. However, we lost to the two attempts they had on our goal – both from free headers. We’ve got to pick up and take responsibility in the box. We’ve worked on it all week but we’ve not done it today.
“Every game is important. We have to focus on ourselves and get as many points as quickly as we can. Large parts of that today, when we look back at it, were okay for an away performance. We are where we are - a mid-table to lower end team at the minute. At half-time, we told them not to go out there in a relaxed manner, let’s push on and take a grip of the game again, keep them quiet, they’ll have little moments in the game but when they’ve had their little moments we’ve not defended well enough and that’s been a crucial part of losing the game today.
“For all the ball play we had, we probably didn’t create enough. We had bits and bobs but the set-plays were poor today.
“It’s certainly a game where we should be going back up the road with a point, so the feeling is anger more than anything.”
The Iron had a penalty shout denied early on when the home shotstopper felled Kyle Wootton.
McCall added: “If it had been a centre-halve taking a centre-forward out it probably would have been (a penalty), but the goalkeeper made no contact with the ball whatsoever and wiped Kyle out. Was it in the box? I don’t know. I’m not going to go back and look at that, the things that makes me most angry are the two free headers the kid (Sinclair) has had to score both goals.
“You have to stay with your men in the box. He pulled off on to Tom (Pearce), yes Tom should do better, but Tom’s not a big physical stopping left-back. We had Harrison (McGahey) playing at right-back, who lost his man for the second goal, and we had Cam (Burgess), Rory (McArdle) and Perchy (James Perch) all in the box - all big lads who can deal with the cross coming in.
“We haven’t taken responsibility, we let him pull on to Tom and he had a free header. The second one, although it’s a good cross in, we’ve just dropped in and not stayed with him. We defend properly and we go back up the road with something.”
Three changes were made ahead of the game, with Tony McMahon (absent as part of the loan deal that brought him to Scunthorpe from Oxford, George Thomas and Adam Hammill making way for Pearce, Perch and Olufela Olomola.
McCall explained: “If you look back at some of the performances, especially away from home, we felt today we’re on a big pitch and if we played a diamond we could cause them problems. The plan was to get Tom on one side and Harrison down the other, and put crosses in. George has had a little bit of a quiet period playing as a ‘10’ and we felt Fela deserved his chance up front, and we thought with a big pitch he could get in behind.
“It didn’t materialise that much but when the balls were coming in from the flanks, Novs (Lee Novak) could be coming in from a ’10’ position, Kyle (Wootton) could be attacking the ball and we have Funso (Ojo) coming in and Levi (Sutton) backing it up. Again, when we look at it, we’ve controlled the game with that shape. They’re at home and are going to have little periods in the game, but I expected them to have more than they did today. That makes it doubly frustrating that we’ve lost the game.”
McCall also explained why Levi Sutton was withdrawn in the second-half and explained when Byron Webster should return to training after missing the match with a hamstring problem.
He said: “Levi tweaked his knee in the first-half. We looked at it at half-time, and he was fine to carry on. He’s actually come off with blisters from wearing a new pair of boots and trying to break them in. He hadn’t brought his other ones with him. He’ll never do that again in his career I’m sure. It’s something he’s got to learn from.
“We think Byron will be back to train in the middle of next week. He missed out with his hamstring today but it’s nothing untoward. He’s back running but didn’t travel with us.”
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