Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray has paid tribute to his team’s ability to stick to a game plan after coming away with a hard-fought point from Portsmouth this afternoon.
Stags played out a 0-0 draw at Fratton Park after battling hard to deny the hosts the three points, and Murray wanted to put the onus on his players’ discipline during key moments in the match.
“It was one of our best away performances of the season, one of our best tactical performances and at times we had to dig in and work,” said Murray.
“[In the] first-half we dominated large parts of the game, our shape was superb, we created a few chances, but when you come to Portsmouth you’re expected, at times, to come under the cosh and they’re a fantastic team with a very good manager.
“Our overall performance was fantastic, not just because it was an away performance but the way we carried the game plan out.
“We spoke about the game this morning that there would be periods where we would play without a striker and play with a false nine, so we’d have a front three that just drift. We knew we could get at them in certain areas but all the credit needs to go to the lads for sticking to the plan.”
Two clean-sheets in the space of four days at Pompey and Yeovil has seen the Stags’ defence receive high praise from the boss, with centre-half Lee Collins particularly earning the plaudits after replacing the suspended Krystian Pearce.
Speaking about the potential selection headache when Pearce returns, Murray said: “When Krystian returns he’s not getting his shirt back.
“That’s the nature of the beast, Krystian has been superb but over the last two games Lee Collins and Ryan Tafazolli have been immense along with the rest of the back four.
“Blair Adams again today was superb, great defensive display. For a guy who has come into the team out of the cold and put in the two displays he has done is world class.
“I’m proud of my football club again today, the fans were absolutely tremendous coming up against 16,000 [Portsmouth supporters] and still shouting their hearts out is what we stand for.
With the strength of Portsmouth’s squad over the past few years, Murray believes his side have set up defensively from the start in a bid to earn a point, but he feels his formation today allowed them to force the home side’s hand for at least 45 minutes.
“We didn’t want to come here and play five in midfield or five at the back, we wanted to come here and have a right go and in the first-half we had a lot of good possession and play around the box,” he said.
“Second-half when they do start getting on top of the game, shooting into that big stand there with the crowd pulling them in, it’s hard to play against that and they do get on to the front-foot and you have to try and keep the reigns on the game.”
With 800 miles travelled and four points picked up, Murray declared his delight for not only his players, but to his trusted board of directors who have backed him every step of the way.
Murray continued: “I’m absolutely over the moon. Obviously it (fatigue) does play a part for a long time but again I give credit to my chairman and the board who allowed us to come down yesterday and prepare perfectly.
“We trained at Southampton yesterday through some contacts that we have down there which was superb, and it allowed us to put in the performance we did.”
You can watch Murray’s interview on Stags Player later.