Adkins: Iron are in good shape
Scunthorpe boss Nigel Adkins is confident he can hold onto his key players as he plots another assault on the Coca-Cola Championship. The Iron bounced straight back to the second tier with a thrilling 3-2 win over Millwall in the League One play-off final at Wembley. Two goals from Matt Sparrow - who was born just around the corner from the national stadium - and Martyn Woolford's late winner mean Scunny will be rubbing shoulders with Newcastle and Middlesbrough next term. Adkins led his side to the League One title two years ago but could not keep them up after having to rebuild his side as some of his star men moved on. "We got 46 points in the Championship last season but we had to reassemble our squad," he said. "We lost all our strikers - Billy Sharp went, Jermaine Beckford went, Steve Torpey retired. "We brought Gary Hooper in this season and he's scored 30 goals and formed a great partnership of 50-odd goals with Paul Hayes. "And all these players now have the opportunity to go on and play in the Championship next season. "We enjoyed the Championship, we weren't overawed by it. The objective will always be survival at this football club. "We expect to hang onto all the players. Financially we are in a very good position now, we've kept our finances right and would have been all right even if we'd lost. "All the players are under contract and we've got ourselves in a situation where we can try to improve." Unlucky Millwall played their part in a cracking final, having fallen behind to Sparrow's early strike. Gary Alexander turned the game on its head with two goals in two minutes before the break. The first was truly spectacular, Alexander controlling the ball on his chest 30 yards out, turning and smashing a dipping volley over Joe Murphy and into the net. Moments later, the striker met Dave Martin's cross with a header that squirmed out of Murphy's grasp and over the line. Sparrow, Scunthorpe's longest-serving player and in his testimonial year, fittingly dragged his side level with a cool finish from Woolford's cross in the 70th minute. And boyhood Lions fan Alexander will be having nightmares about the gilt-edged chance he passed up for a hat-trick when he headed Chris Hackett's cross wide from in front of goal. Instead, it was Woolford - a free transfer from non-league York last summer - who stole the limelight, steering Scunthorpe to victory when he latched onto Sparrow's cross-shot and fired in a low drive that went under the body of David Forde. Even then, Lions legend Neil Harris had a chance to force extra-time but failed to add to his club-record tally of 117 goals when he curled his shot wide. "We had a couple of key chances," admitted Millwall boss Kenny Jackett. "It's no consolation but it was a fantastic game and it looked about 50-50 chance-wise - but unfortunately it's gone against us."
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