ADVANTAGE SCUNTHORPE AS GREGS MISSES ONLY CHANCE IN TIGHT AFFAIR
TO DESCRIBE this goalless draw as dour would be one of the bigger understatements of the season, but that’s perfectly fine by Scunthorpe boss Graham Alexander, who claims his game plan worked to perfection.
The Iron stifled Millwall in a clash that never looked like getting out of first gear and put themselves in the box seat ahead of today’s second leg at Glanford Park.
The only clear opening came on 26 minutes, but Lee Gregory’s shot was blocked by the legs of Scunthorpe stopper Joe Anyon.
It was just a fifth goalless draw in 64 games at the Iron’s helm for Alexander, and it could hardly have been sweeter.
“We had to be defensively strong as we played here recently and had a poor result,” said Alexander, whose side lost 3-1 at The Den at the start of April. “This was a massive improvement on that.
“We had to stay focused and disciplined, and to a man they did that. I had an open mind as I knew the game would be played over two legs, but this is a positive result.
“We’re happy with the type of performance we had to put in and how we carried that through.
“We were disappointed to concede the opportunity to Lee Gregory, but fortunately it was a great save from Joe.”
Despite the rapturous noise at The Den, this was a niggly tie and chances were few and far between.
Two superb clearances by Murray Wallace from Tony Craig and Shane Ferguson deliveries kept the Lions at bay, while Gregory spurned the one gilt-edged chance as he latched on to a pinpoint Jed Wallace ball, but saw his tame effort repelled by Anyon.
After the break, Millwall looked to turn the screw, with Wallace firing countless balls into the box, and skipper Craig lashed a volley well over.
Scunthorpe’s only attempt on target came in the 80th minute when Josh Morris’s free-kick was easily saved by Jordan Archer. Lions boss Neil Harris was left to rue a missed opportunity to gain control of the tie. “I thought we were really good in the first half,” said Harris. “For 15 or 20 minutes, it was a bit ping-pong, with the ball in the air quite a lot and a lot of feisty challenges.
“We got a foothold in the game, but there wasn’t much quality from either side. The moments of quality came our way, and the clear-cut chance for Lee Gregory was the major one.
“I’m certainly pleased not to concede a goal though. There are four quarters of football for me over the two ties and it was important not to get beaten in the first two.”
STAR MAN JED WALLACE Millwall