Manager Paul Cox said he was proud of his players’ 11th place finish in Sky Bet League Two this season as Mansfield Town ended their campaign on a high, beating Bristol Rovers 1-0.
Colin Daniel's superb strike on 36 minutes guided Stags to a well-earned victory this afternoon as they also ended the Pirates' 94-year stay in the Football League.
Despite Cox feeling happy after another away win, he couldn’t help but feel sorry for his opposition, who will be playing in the Conference Premier next season.
“We were against a team today who were fighting for their lives,” said Cox. “Our lads put in a great shift, so I’m really proud of them today.
“It’s a tough old business - the scenes here today showed that. I’m a football person and when you see grown men cry, you know what it means to supporters and I really do feel for them, but my job is to look after Mansfield Town and I’m proud we have finished this season in 11th place on joint points.
“The supporters that came down today were absolutely second to none. It shows what it means to them. They have backed us all season and as I say I’m really proud at the moment.
“We knew the game was going to be tough. Any team that you play that need a draw or a win on the last game of the season is going to be a dangerous animal.
“You see what a massive club Bristol Rovers are though. There were about 11,000 fans here today. We had to withstand some pressure late on and some of the boys were running on empty.”
Cox continued: “You’ve only got to look at the amount of good clubs that have finished below us and the size of the clubs that have finished below us.
“You just have to look at Bristol Rovers, when I was playing they were a Championship club. They’ve got a massive fan base with a big set up and I just think building forwards at Mansfield Town we’ve got to appreciate every game we win and what we do now in the future.
“We have seen today, it doesn’t matter what name you are or how bigger club you think you are, there is no side that can escape the trapdoor.”
Meanwhile, our manager is eager to make his side stronger for next season as he aims to build upon Stags’ successful 11th place finish in League Two.
Cox said: “Next season is going to be tougher and I think as a football club we can be very potent if we have a siege mentality and stick together.
“The fans have come out in their numbers to travel all the way down here and pay hard earned money. I’m hoping they will go home knowing the lads have given 100% all season.
“We have had many highs and lows. There have also been moans and groans, but that for me is football. If we can now stick together as a town and football club we can progress.
“We will have a good rest in the summer and come back even stronger and try and take on what I think will be an even stronger league.
“It will be a tougher season, but as a team which I mean by a whole town, supporters and players, everyone can galvanise and keep together and be successful as a football club.”