Boss pleased with players’ display amidst difficult circumstances.Manager Paul Cox was delighted with the desire and attitude shown by injury-hit squad, who produced a resilient defensive display to hold Cambridge United to a 0-0 draw at One Call Stadium this afternoon.
The U’s, who had scored eight goals in their previous two matches, couldn’t find a way beyond a Stags back-line, marshalled by the excellent Martin Riley.
Goalkeeper Sascha Studer also pulled off some terrific saves to record a well-deserved clean-sheet – his second for the club.
“It was just good to get an 11 out there today,” said our boss.
“With what has transpired [in training] during the week, it made it a tricky weekend to come into, but I thought the boys were tremendous today.
“We had two players who had pain-killing injections just to get them out on the pitch. It’s been a tough week, so they deserve all the credit that they get.
“They’ve gone out there, been professional and showed a great desire to work hard.”
He continued: “Coming into a game against a side who have absolutely ‘bulldozed’ teams of late, I thought we were tremendous. I thought our first half performance was excellent without us actually affecting their goal as such.
“There were some tired bodies out there today. Some players have had pain-killing injections just to play today, others haven’t trained this week and we are really down to the bare bodies.”
One of the key moments of the match came early on, when Fergus Bell went to ground inside the area under a heavy challenge from U’s ‘keeper Chris Dunn.
No penalty was given by the referee, who instead opted to book the Stags’ playmaker for simulation.
Reflecting on the incident, Cox continued: “I thought it was a stone-wall penalty and I’ve seen them given time and time again.
“I don’t know what the referee saw, but you’ve got to put your trust in him and hope that he’s made the right decision.”
On the training ground injury to Luke Jones, which is expected to keep the centre-back out of action for around four to six months, Cox said: “The players are such a tight-knit group and I think when you here a certain snap and see someone that is a ‘proper man’ as Jonah is, writhing around on the floor and screaming in pain, it ended the session there and then.
“Psychologically, it affected the boys and I think to bring them back from that and for them to play how they did today – I’m over the moon with them.”
Paul Cox’s full post-match interview will be available on Stags Player later tonight. To subscribe, click here.