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Cox provides update as Iron gear up for Cheltenham at home

25 February 2021

First team manager Neil Cox has previewed the home encounter against Cheltenham Town this Saturday, as his team look to make it four Sands Venue Stadium successes in a row for the first time since April 2017.

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Buoyed by recent victories over Grimsby Town (3-0), Port Vale (2-0) and Harrogate Town (3-1) they face a Robins side presently sitting third in the division.

He told iFollow Iron: "We will make ourselves positive and we're looking forward to the challenge against Cheltenham Town. We're on a good run of form at home and we face one of the top sides in the division.

"We know it will be a tough challenge but they're a good side that's been together a long time. I know they have one or two injuries but they've settled well, attack well down the flanks and last year they did really well to get in the play-offs. This season they'll be looking to go one further.

"The ball will come into our box from long throws so we need to defend well and be really good with the ball. We need to push ourselves up the league and get back on a run of form again.

"I might have to freshen it up a bit but we'll still have the same focus of being threatening going forward and defending really well. When we get our wingers running at people and have people running in behind, it causes anybody problems."

Emmanuel Onariase missed the midweek loss at Bolton Wanderers with a groin problem, and Cox provided an update on the central defender, as well as his defensive colleague Harrison McGahey, who played only his second 45 minutes since December on Tuesday.

He said: "Manny was on the training pitch on Thursday morning and is still a little tender in the groin area, but he's trained. We'll have to look and assess him. We have a lot of games coming up and we don't want to rush him back.

"'H' (McGahey) is fit again now and we'll have to see what decision I make, as there are a lot of people raring to go.

"I need to pick and choose the games for some people because there are some with tight backs for instance with the volume of games we're playing, but I'll choose the strongest side I can to try and win this game.

"I felt for JB (Jacob Bedeau) a bit as he gave the penalty away (at Bolton), which shouldn't have even been given, and he's trained really well. I'll have to look at who's fresh on Friday.

"We played a behind-closed-doors friendly against Doncaster on Wednesday so the boys who haven't been playing got 90 minutes in, which is good. There were no injuries.

"We have 18 games left and are going to need everybody, so it's good to get some minutes into them and one or two of them put a thought into my head about changing it in the next couple of games.

"Fela (Olufela Olomola) played 80 minutes, which is good, and will need more minutes before I bring him into the first team squad. The Under-23s play Salford next week. Joey Dawson played 45 minutes and Dalesy (Andy Dales) played well at left-back, doing a job for us, while Fin Shrimpton came back from injury and played well at centre-half."

Finally, speaking about the penalty decision which changed the course of the game at 0-0 at Bolton on Tuesday, the manager added: "I spoke to the EFL's Head of Refereeing this morning and they told me it was never a penalty, and I think that decision changed the game really. I know Bolton were on top, but they never really caused us problems in the penalty area, though they had a lot of the ball.

"That decision is made and they go 1-0 up. We came out for the second half and changed it but it meant they could sit in and play on the counter-attack.

"That's ten penalties we've given away this season and we've been told seven shouldn't have been. We've only been given one and they're saying we should have had two or three more definite penalties.

"It's disappointing because the boys are having a right good go, and the decisions have gone against us. They say it usually evens itself up, but ten penalties compared to our one doesn't seem very even to me at the moment."

See much more from Neil Cox on iFollow Iron. Click here to get your Iron v Cheltenham Town match pass.

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