IRON FINALLY AT THEIR BEST
MANAGER Graham Alexander believes Scunthorpe produced their best display of the season at the crucial moment as they beat Bolton to give their play-off push a much-needed shot in the arm.
The Iron have come in for criticism on the back of a run of six defeats in eight games – form which has allowed the Trotters to surge ahead of them in the automatic promotion race.
But three points earned via David Mirfin’s early header complemented a display reminiscent of those during the first half of the campaign.
“With the pressure we’ve been put under and the criticism we’ve received, which we think has been unjust, that was the best performance of the season for me,” said Alexander, whose side are four points clear of seventh.
“We controlled the game from minute one and the players can take great heart. I thought they were fantastic
“It takes a lot of courage to go out there and play like that. Nobody was expecting us to win but we have.
“Whether it’s a reminder to anyone else of our ability is not my concern, but it’s a reminder to my players more than anything that they are good.
“When they stick together and believe in themselves as a group, they are a good side to watch and a difficult side to play against.”
Bolton had won six of their seven matches going into the clash – a run which had seen Phil Parkinson named League One’s manager of the month for March.
Rarely though did they look like getting back on level terms as the Iron turned the form book on its head in a game of few chances.
The decisive goal came in the 11th minute, from a free-kick just to the right of centre.
Josh Morris – a player under Parkinson at Bradford last season – lifted it towards the far post and Mirfin headed home.
Conor Wilkinson hooked Wanderers’ only first-half effort of note wide of the target and, after the break, substitute Neal Bishop hit the foot of a post from range as the home side came desperately close to earning some breathing space.
They were thankful though to keeper Joe Anyon for a first clean sheet in almost two months as he dived low to his left to brilliantly push away a 73rd-minute header from Bolton’s Max Clayton.
“I thought Scunthorpe started a bit quicker than us and we conceded a soft goal – which is uncharacteristic for us,” said Parkinson.
“We had the chances to get at least a point and controlled the game for long periods.
“All in all, I don’t think the lads could have given any more than they did.
“We’ve had Southend away and Scunthorpe away in a week and come away with three points, which isn’t a bad return.
“We’ve still got the same lead we had over third place prior to the game, but now with a game less to go.”
STAR MAN STEPHEN DAWSON Scunthorpe DAVE’S THE HERO: Scunthorpe celebrate after, inset, David Mirfin scores the winning goal