Stand-in boss Russ Wilcox felt Scunthorpe were unlucky not to come away with a point as they went down 1-0 at Cheltenham.
The Iron were without boss Neil Cox and assistant Mark Ellis due to Covid-19 protocol and one unnamed member of the squad missed out after testing positive.
Reuben Reid’s penalty in the fifth minute settled the contest in Cheltenham’s favour but Under-23s coach Wilcox could not fault Scunthorpe’s efforts after stepping up to lead them at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.
He said: “Mark went down with it and I spoke to him earlier. He’s lost his sense of taste, but is fine otherwise.
“We didn’t find out until about 10 yesterday morning. The gaffer has been in close contact with him and so is self-isolating and one of the players has tested positive as well.
“It’s so frustrating for the gaffer. He watched the game on iFollow or something and was on the phone to me.
“The trouble was there was a 30-second delay and so I had to tell him they’d scored while he was talking!
“I’m not going to criticise any of the players. It’s a young group and people have to give them time. They’re developing well.
“Michael Duff is a great guy and Cheltenham know what they’re doing, but he’s been developing this side for two years.
“It was a soft penalty but we grew into the game and I think we were a little bit unlucky not to grab a point.”
Elliot Bonds was brought down by George Hornshaw in the area and referee Sam Allison pointed to the spot.
Reid stepped up and scored his fourth of the season in all competitions, but his first in League Two.
Cheltenham controlled much of the opening half, with Aaron Jarvis’ shot comfortably saved by Josh Griffiths in a rare attempt from Scunthorpe.
Rory Watson pulled off a double save to deny Matty Blair and then Liam Sercombe in the 52nd minute as Cheltenham pressed for a second.
Scunthorpe were close to levelling when Mason O’Malley thumped a shot wide in the 73rd minute before Abo Eisa fired straight at Griffiths inside the box.
Andy Williams forced Watson into another diving stop in the 79th minute but Cheltenham had done enough.
Cheltenham remain third after their fifth win in seven games this season and Duff has been delighted with their start.
He said: “Any manager who says they aren’t happy with 15 points from seven games, no matter how you get them, is a liar in my opinion.
“Everyone would have taken that so the key now is to keep moving forward, having that mentality of going again and again.
“It’s about not just eating clean for the four hours you are at the training ground, live clean at home, when nobody else is watching, not cutting corners because that’s when you really let your mates down.
“That’s their job, they are professional footballers and they have to look after themselves all the time and I think they have been.
“It’s seven games gone, 39 to go and we’ll do what we’ve always done – try to win the next game.”
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