After an impressive Iron fight-back to draw 2-2 late on – coming from behind twice – Russ Wilcox reviewed the team’s performance away at in-form Port Vale on Saturday.
Speaking to iFollow Iron, Wilcox gave his take on the match. He said: “The players have shown tremendous character, coming to a place like Port Vale who’ve lost one game at home all season. Going behind twice and then coming back, I can’t speak highly enough of the players.
“I said to them after the match, it feels like a win,” Wilcox stated. “Especially when we went behind again after equalising. We wanted to be solid at 1-1, but then when you go 2-1 down, and a lot of teams would probably buckle under that pressure, but we stood firm and got a deserved point.”
The substitutes who came off the bench for the Iron proved to make a huge difference, with Devarn Green’s assist, and George Miller’s first goal for the club. Wilcox acknowledged the confidence boost that their performances will generate.
“The important thing to touch on, is that they are young players,” he stated. “There’s going to be bumps in the road because they’re young players learning their trade, but today they showed quality.
“Dev’s (Devarn Green) pass for Gilliead’s goal was outstanding, as was Gilliead himself, taking it around the ‘keeper. After that, you think ‘brilliant, we’re back in the game, can we go and nick it’. George (Miller) came on after Kev pulled his groin, he worked hard and got his just reward at the end.”
George Miller’s work-rate hasn’t faltered all season when called upon, and finally, it appears the Iron loanee got what he deserved, earning his side a point on the day.
Wilcox declared: “Sometimes that’s not always down to George (not scoring). Sometimes you need a run of games in order to get your touch right, your runs how you want them, and your hold-up play right. Kev could be struggling, and if he is, George will get his chance.”
It was John McAtee’s cross that found Miller, who converted with the deftest of touches in the final minute of the 90, and Wilcox confirmed that was the plan heading into the latter stages of the match, needing a goal.
He said: “There wasn’t long left, so it became about getting balls into the box. McAtee put a great ball in, George found some space and got the slightest touch. Saying that I thought it was a well-earned point - we deserved it – they (Port Vale) have beaten many teams here. The main thing that shone today was the character of the group.
“The (Iron) team that ended the game was a young one, and that’s going to be the way forward. We’ve got to help them learn but you can’t coach character, belief, or hard work, it’s got to come from within. The players showed that in abundance, and hopefully the fans that travelled went home happy.
“I don’t think many people will have given us much chance today. We lost (Abo) Eisa quite early in the game, and Kev early in the second half, who are two outstanding players. The young lads stepped up to the plate today though, and performed really well.”
On the two players injured across the course of the game, Wilcox gave his verdict on what he knew straight after the final whistle.
“Kev’s picked up a little groin injury, we’re not yet sure what the extent of that is. Eisa’s is a hamstring injury, so I’d say both are major doubts for the next two games,” he said.
“It’s really disappointing. The group is quite young at the moment, so to lose two players with good experience is hard to take. We just have to deal with it, and work with the younger lads.”
Alfie Beestin is another player who joined the list of injuries pre-match, not deemed fit enough for the matchday squad, he was replaced on the bench by Tom Pugh. Wilcox confirmed: “It’s another little twinge. There was some tightness in his hamstring, but again, it’s an opportunity for Tom to get involved, and Jai Rowe who was on the bench.
“They’re a couple of my lads from the Under-23s, we’re obviously young in terms of the squad but they’re working hard for each other.”
See much more from Russ Wilcox, George Miller and Devarn Green on iFollow Iron. Click here to sign-up.