08 February 2022

Keith Hill pleased to ‘send message’ with overdue win

08 February 2022

Scunthorpe boss Keith Hill toasted his side’s battling spirit as they ended a run of seven successive defeats by beating Walsall at the Sands Venue Stadium.

Jai Rowe’s 34th-minute header earned a first home victory since October for the Iron – who played most of the second half with 10 men following Tom Pugh’s sending-off for a second booking.

“I’m really pleased for everyone, because the run of results we’ve been on does bring a lack of belief,” Hill said.

“It’s all right me as a manager sending out the message that we’re still fighting, but it has to be backed up by results or I’m just a madman – and a soon-to-be ex-manager.

“It feels tremendous, not just for me, but for the supporters as well. The way they celebrated at the end showed a real unity and that’s encouraging for us.

“You can become a victim of situations like the red card, but we reacted well.

“There was a strength to what we were trying to achieve, and a real unity about the way we kept a clean sheet and managed the second half.

“The endeavour was there, and sometimes that’s what it’s all about.

“We have to be better performance-wise with our football, but if we can match that with the spirit we showed tonight, that can take you a long way.”

Aside from Rowe’s goal – which the midfielder nodded home after a free-kick from Ross Millen came back into play off the inside of the post – Walsall dominated.

George Miller fired over from a tight angle after rounding the keeper and headed against the woodwork in the second half, not long after Pugh was given his marching orders for reacting to Hayden White’s challenge.

It meant a seventh successive defeat for the Saddlers, a run in which they have scored just twice.

“At the moment, the players are low on confidence and belief,” Walsall boss Matt Taylor said.

“They’ve got the technique, they’ve shown that this season, but when you work so hard as a team to create opportunities, and don’t take them, it’s frustrating.

“I’ll never stand here and question the players’ effort, and we know they’ve got the quality, but when you’re winning games and scoring goals it’s easy. It becomes almost robotic.

“What you need to do when you’re going through tough periods is you have to really dig in and tonight we weren’t brave enough in front of goal.

“The margins are so tight, but it’s not a time for me to stand here and make excuses, it’s time for me to stand up and be counted and accept full responsibility.

“I thought we did enough to win the game, but to create the number of chances we did and not score is a little bit more than concerning.”

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