Stags’ manager Adam Murray has made it clear to his players that he won’t accept a ‘lull’ in performances at Accrington Stanley tomorrow night following Friday’s win against Notts County.Murray’s men travel to the Wham Stadium tomorrow night (7.45pm) looking for back-to-back wins..
The gaffer said both the win and the performance pleased him on Friday night, but won't accept a slip in standards against Stanley tomorrow night.
Speaking at a news conference this morning, Murray said: “It’s one of the annoying aspects of the game that you can put in a performance like we did on Friday and then the next game you often see a lull.
“The lads were made aware on Saturday morning that it was good to get points on the board [against Notts County on Friday], it was good to get a performance but the focus goes to Accrington straight away and I want another performance of that tempo and that intensity and we want to put more points on the board.
“We know that going to Accrington away on Tuesday night is a tough fixture; they need to put points on the board and they’re a good team. We’ve watched them the last two games and they have a lot of attacking threats and if we’re not on our mettle then we’ll get found out.
“We’ll be planning for them today and we’ll be working on bits and bobs and we’ll go there wanting to carry on our good form.”
Ahead of another season, Stanley have been tipped by some as one of the favourites to be relegated, however, Murray believes that the Lancashire club are better than people give them credit for: “I think it’s just a myth with them now [that they will be amongst the relegation contenders] and I imagine that John [Coleman, Accrington Stanley manager] gets a bit fed up with it now because they’re a very good team. They’ve got some good players and they play an attacking style of football.
“They have a lot of threats and if you go there in the wrong frame of mind then you’ll get caught out. I think we showed last year for 45 minutes we pinned them in and should have been two or three up. Jamie McGuire scored and then we took a backward step. If you do that there you get found out because they play at a tempo, they come out the blocks, so we’re going to have to be on it even more than we were on Friday.”
The fantastic atmosphere created by the Stags’ fans on Friday night drove the players on, but Murray says tomorrow will be a different type of game in which his players will need to be professional.
“In some ways it’s a little bit easier to play in the 'big games' because the atmosphere drives you.
"I believe we’ve put a squad together this year that’s professional, that’s disciplined and it carries a whole heap of focus so we’ve got to go there and do a professional job tomorrow.
“It’s not about the atmosphere, it’s not about going in to an environment where there’s ten thousand [fans]. It’s about going in there, getting the job done and getting out.”
Murray confirmed that Scott Shearer missed Friday’s game with a virus which has affected his ankle, but was pleased with the performance of his replacement, 40-year-old Brian Jensen.
“He's [Scott Shearer] picked up some kind of virus that’s affected his ankle. His ankle’s 'blown up', he hasn’t got anything ‘injury-wise,’ he’s just a little bit sore because of the swelling so we’ll assess him this morning and we hope he’ll be okay.
“I don’t think we could’ve asked for anyone better to come in and to fill the shoes [than Brian Jensen]. It’s always the case at the start of the season, and it’s the way the game is. People read in to things and over-read things. Brian’s come in as a goalkeeper coach but if he does get the shirt, good luck trying to get it back because he’s a professional.
“Brian and 'Shears' (Scott Shearer) have got an unbelievable relationship where they’re good mates and they push each other every day on the training ground. They’ve both got unbelievable bags of experience and ability so now it’s a headache for me because we’ve got two top-class ‘keepers.
“On Friday night, having Brian going in to that occasion, I think it was massive for the back four. It helped settle them down and compose them and I think he made some super decisions.”
Some positive news on the injury front is that defender Lee Collins (right) is approaching fitness again after missing the first two weeks of the season with a foot injury, Murray said.
“He’s had a few weeks rest now and it’s good news. We gave him last week off totally; he was doing his own gym work and it saved him travelling in and putting pressure on the foot but he feels great.
“The tricky bit for me now is that I’ve had two centre-halves who have been unbelievable, but what a great situation to have, having someone of Lee Collins’ calibre coming back in to the fold.”
“But at the minute, he’s going to have to fight for his shirt because the performances that the two centre-halves have put in so far have been superb, so it’s up to them now to keep up that consistency, focus and drive.”
Going into more detail on the Krystian Pearce/Ryan Tafazolli pairing, Murray admitted that senior players have been impressed by the pair’s commanding nature. “The most pleasing thing for me is that Jamie McGuire said to me after the game that when he went on, they didn’t shut up.
“He said he’d never heard anything like it; they were constantly communicating, telling people what to do and leading people. If they both carry that on, and it is a challenge for people to get that consistency, then Lee is going to struggle to get back in the team.”
Murray is pleased with the versatility of his squad as he can approach certain games with a different game-plan without needing to have an overly large squad. “We’re happy with the squad we’ve got. The recruitment we did, we allowed for people to play in different roles and different positions.
“We’ve got a lot of tools in our armoury this season and if we do what we did Friday and we stick to our game-plan and do the basics right then we’ll be a good team this year. I love the fact that people have written us off already because it gives you a hunger to go and put it up people’s backsides.
“The tight group we’ve got, I really like, because everybody knows they’re going to be involved, everybody’s on the same page, everybody is working towards the same goal.
“Nobody feels left out and everybody wants to play, so you understand that and they understand that they’re going to get chances. So at the minute we’re happy with the squad and as it stands, there’s no view to bring anyone in.”
The gaffer’s final word at this morning’s meeting with the press was for winger Matty Blair who is currently working his way back to full fitness.
“We’ve sat down with Matty and we’ve had some brief talks. I do believe that people are going to see a new and improved Matty Blair but like we did with Liam Hearn last year, we won’t throw him into the fire until he’s 100% ready to affect our team.
"He wants to stay, we want him to stay, he’s a few weeks away from being in the squad yet so there’s no rush.”