Stags’ manager Adam Murray was left feeling content with a point this afternoon against Oxford United.
Mansfield went ahead in the third minute thanks to a superb strike from Craig Westcarr and could’ve doubled their lead just a few minutes later when Matt Green missed from the penalty spot. Oxford got their equaliser through a penalty of their own when Kemar Roofe converted after Callum O’Dowda was brought down by Reggie Lambe in the second half.
Although the Stags could’ve had all three points, Murray was pleased with how his side battled in the later stages of the game. “In the end we had to be resilient against a very, very good side.
“Overall, going toe-to-toe with one of the favourites for the league, to get a point against them and come out with a lot of positives, I'm pleased.
“We wanted to win it of course and we felt like we could win it. If we’re being totally honest the game could’ve been over in the first twenty minutes. We should’ve been three up but sometimes that’s the way the game goes.”
Murray also said that he was pleased with how his side kept their shape when Oxford were trying to force their way through the Stags’ back line.
“Our shape was good, we limited them to playing in front of us and then forcing it a few times. When do they get through, and good teams always do, then you rely on your shot-stopper (Brian Jensen); that’s what he gets paid for and he’s pulled off a couple of ‘worldies’."
The gaffer revealed that Matt Green was disappointed in himself for missing the penalty but says that the 90 minutes will make him sharper as the season progresses.
“Greeny’s (Matt Green) just said to me there ‘look I apologise, I’ve let you down today’, that’s how honest he is. Greeny missing penalties doesn’t bother me when he gets into the areas that he does. He’s somebody who needs to train every week, he can’t have a week off.
“Because of his niggle that he picked up, we couldn’t risk him Tuesday, but because he is so big to us, we had to play him today. The ninety minutes today will have done him the world of good and he’ll come back stronger. A proper fit Matt Green today scores a hat trick.”
Our manager said that he was pleased with Craig Westcarr’s influence on the game, and the forward has had to be patient while waiting for his chance in the line-up.
“He's a good player, we’ve been waiting for our chance with Craig,” Murray said.
“There’s games where I have to make sure the balance of the side is right and this first month of the season we’re not too ‘gung-ho’ and we don’t leave ourselves too open.
“We have to get the balance right and I felt today it was a game that Craig could affect and, what a goal.”
Murray’s final word was for the mental strength of his players, something which he believes will be key during the course of the season.
“We’re [a group of] 14 new players, we’re having teething problems while we’re finding our feet and we’re still trying to find the way we want to play and while we do that we’re coming under pressure from some good teams.
“We said in mid-week that this team and this group of people will try our upmost not to lose two games back-to-back.
“I feel that when you do that you get into a rut; you have to be physically and mentally strong to get a win or a draw when you have lost a game so the pleasing thing today is I don’t think we were as good as we can be [but still got something from the game].”