Boss disappointed by players’ display in first 45 minutes of loss to Accrington Stanley.Boss Paul Cox insists our players must learn quickly from a school of hard knocks following today’s bitterly disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Accrington Stanley.
Luke Joyce converted a tenth-minute penalty, awarded after Sascha Studer had clattered into an opponent, to earn the visitors the points, but Stanley squandered several good chances to enhance their lead before the break.
The Stags were much-improved after the re-start, but couldn’t unlock Stanley’s resolute defence and take anything from the game – leaving our boss feeling frustrated.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that we were poor in the first half,” said Cox.
“It’s probably the first time this season that there were a few harsh words said in the dressing room – there were at half-time and there were at full-time.
“The first 45 minutes won’t be tolerated. We looked lethargic, poor and that’s not us as a team.
“I thought we improved in the second half and felt like we were camped in there half for the full 45 minutes, but without putting Accrington under any real stress or pressure.”
“Sometimes there are a multitude of reasons why [you start a game slowly]. I think there are probably one or two [players] think there is a place in the side for them every week and there is probably a little bit of complacency.
“We build success on a desire and application and the way we go about it and today, it just wasn’t there in the first half.
He added: “The very least that I’ve said since I’ve been here is that we’ll work hard and try to put teams under stress and there was none of that in the first half.”
Reflecting on referee Scott Mathieson’s decision to award the visitors an early spot-kick, Cox continued: “I wasn’t surprised with the penalty. The warning signs were there two or three times before that happened, so I’m not going to blame a referee for doing his job and giving a penalty.
“I’d rather see us defend properly like we’ve done for the majority of this season.”
A contentious moment in the game came on 82 minutes when skipper Adam Murray received a straight red card following an innocuous challenge on Stanley defender Rob Atkinson.
Our manager added: “It seemed a bit harsh [to send him off] when you look at the greater scheme of things and other tackles in the game. We’ll have a look at the DVD before deciding [whether to appeal].”
Paul Cox’s full interview will be available on Stags Player later tonight. To subscribe, click here.