Scunthorpe United have to put stamp on the game early on against Stevenage says David Mirfin
IF THEIR season is to end well, Scunthorpe United must start games better, according to defender David Mirfin.
Although the Iron looked bright enough inside the opening quarter of an hour against Hartlepool United on Saturday, by half-time they were 2-0 down and with a mountain to climb.
It is a scenario the centre-back says his team can't afford to repeat as the campaign reaches a nerve-wracking climax.
The weekend's 2-1 defeat to Pools meant United were unable extend their three-match winning run at Glanford Park and head into tonight's clash with Stevenage perilously placed above the bottom four.
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Mirfin though, expects a significant improvement from Brian Laws' side as they look to put Saturday's disappointment behind them.
"A good start is important," said the 27-year-old.
The previous three home games we started well and had been on the front foot. We were the team asking questions of the opposition.
"Saturday was probably a bit of a role reversal.
"The most important thing at this stage of the season is you've got to start games well and put your mark on the game.
"We were massively disappointed on Saturday.
"The one thing where we let ourselves down is not winning individual battles, and therefore you're always going to be on the back foot in the game.
"To go in at half-time 2-0 down means it's always going to be a massive uphill task and I think we left ourselves too much to do in the second half.
"But the one thing the gaffer's emphasised while he's been here is you can't take things to heart and get yourself down too much.
"We have to dust ourselves down because we've got another massive game tonight."
Having not so long ago been five points clear of the relegation zone, Scunthorpe have seen that advantage cut to three, with many of the teams around them also holding games in hand.
"Obviously, there's always a chance the gap can close," continued Mirfin.
"You can't be naïve enough to think there won't be a few more ups and downs before the end of the season.
"While it's in our hands and not relying on other teams to be losing, we've got to take these opportunities.
"Saturday was a good chance for us to take an extra step away from the chasing pack.
"Obviously we didn't take it, but it's still in our own hands.
"We don't want to put too much emphasis on tonight but it's the next cup final for us."
There is also likely to be a second successive start for the defender while Paul Reid continues to recover from illness.
Saturday was Mirfin's first competitive 90 minutes since recovering from a knee injury picked up in November.
This time, he is determined to ensure it ends on a happier note.
"The performance isn't the paramount thing at this stage, it's all about results," he said.
"I was disappointed we came in off losing at home after the good run we'd had at Glanford Park.
"It makes it more frustrating because you want to come in to the side and keep that run and that momentum going at home.
"It was nice to get out there and get 90 minutes. Hopefully I can get another chance tonight and make sure we get three points at home."