Penalty king Alexander has Scunthorpe soaring

By Sam Elliott

WITH a penalty kick king at the helm, there’s little surprise Scunthorpe United are currently hitting the spot with gusto.

They were the club that didn’t want the summer to come. Since taking over in mid-March, Graham Alexander and his Iron have been League One’s form team. They won each of their final six games and only bad fortune stopped them claiming a play-offplace on the final day.

The dye was cast. The squad was fine-tuned over the summer and Scunny are soaring already.

They were joint top after Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Wimbledon.

Alexander, in his playing career, had a habit of picking himself up off the floor and knocking in the penalties.

The former Preston and Burnley midfielder scored 77 spot-kicks during his career, missing only five.

Alexander, in his Preston days, scoring one of his many successful penalties

Alexander, in his Preston days, scoring one of his many successful penalties

That statistic of better than 90 per cent success puts him up there with English football’s most reliable from 12 yards, Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer.

Their win at Wimbledon, you guessed it, was ultimately decided by a penalty kick.

Josh Morris is the player who has heeded the boss’s advice.

Things could have been so different for both club and manager.

Sacked by Fleetwood Town the previous September, it’s fair to say Alexander wasn’t the most popular choice when he was confirmed as Mark Robins’ replacement. But how things seem to have changed.

Tuesday’s victory at Kingsmeadow was their ninth win in ten games and he told The FLP: “I thought to myself at the end of the season we really didn’t want the close season to come. If only it could have gone on a little longer!

Scunthorpe's Tom Hopper clearly learned from the master after scoring their winner against Wimbledon

Tom Hopper clearly learned from the master after scoring their winner against Wimbledon

“We had won six games on the bounce and I had only been in the job since March. I was just getting going. I really didn’t want that final whistle to blow. I couldn’t wait to get back into pre-season.

“We put a lot of our energy into trying to keep that momentum going over the summer months, with the aim of hopefully taking that into the new campaign. So far, so good, but it’s only a start.

“It wasn’t an easy time being out of work after leaving Fleetwood, but sometimes you can take as much from being out of the game as you can from being in it.

“It’s a lethal business Football League management. Have you noticed? You assess what you did well, perhaps the things you didn’t and, if you get another job, you outline what you would do differently. When you are in work, your only focus is the next game. It’s frantic. Being out gave me time to decide how I was going to improve myself as a manager.”

Wins against Bristol Rovers, the Dons and Notts County in the EFL Cup have given his side a healthy platform.

“But it’s not just a case of saying ‘keep the ball rolling’,” he added.

“You have to realise why we have won so many games and keep repeating it. Let’s see where it takes us.”

*This article originally featured in The FLP on Sunday August 21st.

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