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Interviews

Wilcox speaks after Grimsby game

7 March 2020

Russ Wilcox provided his reaction to iFollow Iron after the 2-0 home defeat to local rivals Grimsby Town, secured through goals from former United players Charles Vernam and Luke Waterfall.

He said: “It was a disappointing day. I’ve managed over 100 games now and this is the lowest I’ve been, because of what’s at stake. It was a game for the supporters. I’ve spent 12 years at the club and know what it means to everybody. 

“It was a typical derby game to start with. They matched our system up so it was hard to find pockets of space for both teams. It was a case of earning the right to try and play, winning first contacts, picking up second balls and it was very scrappy. It wasn’t a game that was enjoyable to watch, certainly in the first-half.

“To come in at 0-0, you think this now becomes a 45-minute game. We huffed and puffed, as did they, and there weren’t a lot of chances created. Over the 90 minutes though, being honest, they were better than us on the day.

“It’s hard to put a finger on why at this moment, as I obviously need to look back at the game, but we lacked quality today and didn’t create enough chances or put enough balls into their box. We’ve watched their last four games, where they’ve conceded 11 goals, but we didn’t create a good opening today.

“Credit to Grimsby, they made us play back to front and into their strengths, which is their three centre-backs. It was a bad day at the office.”

Wilcox continued: “We did feel we had enough quality, going with (John) McAtee as a 10 and a front two (of Kevin van Veen and George Miller). We tried to be adventurous and take the game to them but they were disappointing goals we conceded.

“For the first, we should defend the cross better than that. The second shouldn’t have been a corner, and Jacob Bedeau has to do better, by letting the ball run off or controlling it. After that, we should have picked up Waterfall, who’s their main strength (from corners) and he scores a free header in the six-yard box.”

Levi Sutton was sent off soon after coming on as a substitute, for a foul on Elliott Whitehouse, but Wilcox felt Luke Waterfall should have been dismissed for an earlier one on McAtee.

He said: “21 minutes in, it was a reckless challenge which for me was a straight red. It was a worse challenge than Levi’s, though having seen Levi’s live and watched it back too, I have no arguments about that, it was a red. He’s slightly high, but Waterfall’s was a reckless, dangerous challenge.”

Abo Eisa missed the second match in a row following a hamstring injury picked up at Port Vale last weekend and will be assessed before next week’s trip to Colchester United, while on-loan Regan Slater got some game time for Sheffield United’s Under-23s on Friday night as he returns from an ankle injury.

Wilcox said: “Abo’s done some light work this week but was never close to playing today. You have to be careful with hamstring injuries. It’s his first one and we’ll monitor him as the week goes on.

“We went and watched Regan last night. He played an hour and did okay, but is a little bit short. He certainly won’t be ready for another two weeks or so. The plan is for him to play for our Under-23s at Rotherham and then in Sheffield United Under-23s’ next game.”

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