Mansfield Town defender Lee Collins believes that every member of the Stags’ squad deserves credit for the way they dug in deep during a tough second half at Portsmouth.
Delighted with the clean-sheet, Collins spoke about working as a unit when the going gets tough, with the final 45 minutes at Fratton Park this afternoon a shining example of that fact.
“The point was massive really and the clean-sheet was of vital importance not just for the back-four and Brian [Jensen], but as a team [in the] second-half we defended really well and kept to our shape we’ve been
working on, and I’m delighted with it,” said Collins.
“I thought first-half they had their opening ten minutes [of being on top] which we knew they would have. I thought we came out on top at half-time and then in the second half we knew their fans would really get behind them and push them to go for it and we just kept our discipline and produced a really professional performance.
“I never thought we were going to lose.”
The visitors were resolute for the full 90 minutes on the South Coast as they battled hard in front of almost 16,000 Pompey fans, but Collins admits he was more enthralled than nervous on the giant stage that is Fratton Park.
“The atmosphere is just brilliant even though we are the away team. You hear the fans singing and it just adds to the whole occasion,” he said.
“If you put in a tackle and the fans get on to their player for not winning it, it gives you a little boost. I had a few 50/50s for a change and I thrive on them.
“League Two hasn’t become the Premier League overnight. They are a good team with a good budget and we’ve done really well against them.
“We won’t get carried away as we’ve still got a lot of the season left but [as long as] we keep up momentum and we’ll be okay.”
With manager Adam Murray admitting central defender Krystian Pearce’s place in the team isn’t a formality upon completion of his suspension, Collins admits the healthy competition amongst the players can only be a good thing, and personally feels like he has earned his spot in the starting XI.
He shared: “I had a bit of rotten luck at the start of the season getting injured but Pearcey [Krystian Pearce] and Taff [Ryan Tafazolli] have been unbelievable together so I’ve had no quarrels.
“I’ve not been knocking on the managers door to get me a game, I’ve just had to bide my time and when I get it, I take it and I think I’ve done this so far.
“He [Adam Murray] will have a predicament when everyone gets fit; Pearcey’s been outstanding and really bossed this level so far and I hope he comes back just as sharp because he’s an asset to have.”
A new addition to the squad after only signing from Northampton in the off-season, the experienced League Two defender believes the Stags’ squad is one the best he has played in at this level.
Collins continued: “It’s definitely up there with one of the best [I’ve played in]. The comradery, the way we play to each other’s strengths, and we’ve got quite a small squad compared to some of the other teams but the quality of it is definitely up there.
“On and off the pitch we just know each other’s games really well and inside-out; we always have each other’s backs.”