The way in which visiting teams are beginning to set up when playing the Stags at One Call Stadium is a respectful sign of the progress made at home in recent months, boss Adam Murray said today.
The Stags suffered only a second home defeat at One Call Stadium this season against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday, and Murray thinks the Chairboys’ approach to the game was a reflection of his side’s progress.
Speaking at this morning’s news conference, he said: “I think we were below our standards but we still played well, it was one of those games where on another day we could’ve had four or five goals. Wycombe defended really well, their keeper’s pulled off a string of great saves.
“It’s disappointing to lose but it’s a sign of our progression. For me, it’s a progressive season – let’s be honest, over the that last couple of years people have come here and thought ‘how many can we score against Mansfield?’. You listen to his (Gareth Ainsworth) press after the game and he’s worked all week on our forwards and our full-backs attacking so that’s a sign of respect and something that we haven’t had here for a while.
“It’s a credit to how far we’ve come so quickly. We’re way ahead of schedule and facing challenges now that we expected to face months down the line.
“The same team, the same formation, the same tactics put four past Crawley, put four past Dagenham, put three past Newport – we score goals. We’re going to go through spells when the chances don’t go in, if we weren’t creating chances we’d have a problem. We dominate large parts of every game we’ve been involved in, so let’s have a bit of perspective.
“We’re a very good team, we don’t lose very often and what happens with that is expectation goes up – the great thing about this place at the moment, and let’s hope it doesn’t change, is that there’s a superb realism. We all want to win every game, we’ve come a long way in 16 games so let’s keep the balance, let’s keep the focus.”
Despite the rare loss at the weekend, the boss has been encouraged by the reaction of his players.
“There’s a couple of bruised egos [from the weekend] which I always like. One of the big things I’m wary about at Mansfield Town is keeping the focus of everybody – we have this ability to go from ridiculous highs to ridiculous lows – the fans, the players, the board need to keep a balanced focus of where we are."
Stags' preparations are underway for their Emirates FA Cup first round tie against David Dunn’s Oldham Athletic at One Call Stadium on Saturday, and Murray believes the contest may come at an appropriate time for his players.
“It’s a great challenge, it’s probably come at the right time as well. Maybe it’s a time to refocus, reassess the areas we can get better at, reassess the things we’re doing well at. The FA Cup is something we want to do well in this year. We do need to approach games in different ways because we’re coming up against new challenges. They’re coming to us earlier than we expected but that’s brilliant because it means we’re ahead of schedule.
“They’re a team in transition, a team I believe will go forward under Dunny (David Dunn). We were in a couple of the same England squads, he’s a good guy and good player, he’ll have his team prepared and they’ll come here to play football.”
You can watch Adam Murray's news conference, in full, on Stags Player.