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Diary: Still in with a shout

In this week’s diary we discuss excellent wins over Crewe and Bury, look ahead to Saturday’s Peterborough and choose our winner and loser of the week following the two wins which have kept our slim play off hopes alive.

What went well

It would have been so typical of us to be handed a play-off lifeline, only to throw it away. The fact that we didn’t speaks volumes about the current group of players and their attitude. It’s clear they want to win games and in Graham Alexander, we have a manager that finally looks as though he cares.

Whether or not chest-beating is your thing, it makes a refreshing change from the lifeless cardboard cutouts Mark Robins and Alan Knill, who have propped themselves against the edge of the dugout in recent years. Finally we have seen a bit of passion from the man in charge and it’s no coincidence to see it rubbing off on the players.

Following grinding out a victory at Crewe with a 2-1 home win over a physical Bury side shows there has been a clear change in mentality within the group of players. On another day we may have collapsed at Crewe, who had nothing to play for, following Haber’s goal. On Tuesday, Bury may well have found the equaliser but the way we defended against Clarke and Pope in the second half was excellent, particularly with the quality of crosses Bury launched into our area. Whilst it was a little desperate at times we got the job done.

To look back on the week and say that those are the types of games we would usually have lost or scraped a draw has to be pleasing and hopefully a sign of things to come. We’re winning games like a team that make the play offs does and to cut back the deficit to just four points was the result of a good weeks’ work.

As unlikely as it may be for United to sneak in to the top six, where three wins won’t guarantee us a spot, it at the very least, keeps our season alive for at least one more game. And what a game it promises to be.

Peterborough will want to bounce back after feeling aggrieved at the manner of their 1-0 defeat at Barnsley, whilst only a win will do for us if the seemingly impossible following defeat at Bradford is to happen.

What didn’t

If Alexander’s passion is rubbing off on the players, it is a shame it isn’t quite working on the fans. It was another poor home crowd, in more ways than one. It was a very sparse, quiet Glanford Park, as has become the norm since the club fell out of the Championship.

We can argue all day as to why fans are not returning to Glanford Park. Alan Knill, Brian Laws, Russ Wilcox and Mark Robins have all played their part in the dwindling crowds, but they’ve gone now and for the most part, so has the boring football.

It isn’t perfect and it’s early days, but we have seen enough green shoots of recovery to know this is a team, with a couple of additions, that should be challenging next season whatever happens in the final three games.

In Alexander we seem to have found a decent manager and the team are starting to play some decent stuff, so what do the team have to do to get a better turn out?

The change in attitude of the players and management surely deserves a change in attitude from the fans too.

Quote of the week

“They’ve got good players, very experienced ones like Stephen Dawson, Bishop, Madden, Mirfin and Wallace to close the game out and I thought they did that really well.”– David Flitcroft

It’s been our Achilles heel of recent times (OK, for as long as I can remember), so to do so and to be praised for how we did it is nice.

Winner of the week

Kyle Wootton was given only his third league start of the season against the Shakers but repayed the gaffer with his third goal of the season. He is looking better with every game and although he is still a raw talent, he is starting to keep hold of the ball better in possession and has proved he can be in the right place at the right time in front of goal.

He was given a tough task up against a really experienced center half in Peter Clarke and did well, so inclusions in the starting line up may become more frequent as time progresses. He made up for his miss in the first half with an easy finish in the second- but they all count. It is nice to see Alexander putting faith in the youngsters and it is pleasing to see the academy finally producing players that may be able to make the step up.

Loser of the week

Goalkeeper Joe Anyon will understandably be frustrated after being dropped to the bench following two victories between the sticks. Alexander’s decision was ultimately vindicated, but if the Iron had crumbled it would probably have seen a bit of a backlash from the fans.

After impressive saves at home to Burton and also at Crewe at crucial stages of the games, Iron fans would not have been surprised to see him keep his spot. It makes you wonder whether the 35yard wonder strike that flew past him at Gresty Road had a bearing on the manager’s decision.

Moment of the week

David Mirfin winning the Iron Bru player of the season award. I wonder what Mr Robins is thinking now?

The week in five words

Still in with a shout

Written by Matt Blanchard

Part of the team since 2007, before becoming editor in 2013. Undertaken the role of match summariser during Scunthorpe United live match commentaries for BBC Radio Humberside. Seasonal contributor to football titles FourFourTwo and When Saturday Comes and a finalist at the Football Blogging Awards in 2014.

David Mirfin wins Iron Bru player of the season

Up next: Posh (a) – another play-off test