Left-back Mal Benning’s thunderous drive accompanied Ryan Tafazolli’s brace to secure Stags’ third consecutive victory, despite a second-half fight-back from the Grecians through Ollie Watkins and Christian Ribeiro.
And following the thrilling 5-0 victory over local rivals Notts County on Saturday, manager Adam Murray says the players deserve all the praise after they ‘dug in deep’ to defeat the Grecians, who were unbeaten in 10 matches going into the contest.
“When it got tough, they got tougher. When they got knocked over, they got up and went back at it. They’re an absolute credit to themselves and the football club should be proud to have such a group of men representing them at the minute,” Murray said.
“It’s not so much the physical aspect that drains you in them games, it’s the emotional aspect when you put everything into a local derby, like we did Saturday.
“As much as you try to recover right and you try to do everything right, it does drain you as a footballer. I know, I’ve been there in them big games and to go again on a Tuesday night after the journey we did yesterday, what an unbelievable group of men," the gaffer continued.
“I’ve just said in there to the boys, that performance summed up what that group’s about. It never says die. It’s got an unreal way of choosing to win. We speak about it all the time and I say to them, you have a choice to win – in everything you do in life, you always have a choice to win.
“The football club should be very proud to have this group of players with the Mansfield Town shirts on.”
With the Stags leading 1-0 in the second half, left-back Benning scored yet another sensational volley and the gaffer says the former Walsall man practices every day to perfect his technique.
“I think it’s up there [with the other goals he’s scored] and I never thought I’d say that after the ones he’s scored! He’s been desperate for that. He’s a left-back but he loves scoring goals and after the start he had to the season, then he got his injury, he practices every day in training at them – that’s not a fluke, he does that every day.”
All three of the Stags’ goals at St James Park came from dead-ball situations, and the 34-year-old manager said his side knew they could exploit the Grecians’ weaknesses from set pieces.
“We knew when we come to places like Exeter, we knew that every team, like ourselves, we all have frailties and we all have little bits of weaknesses where you can be effective and we knew there was a way to ‘get at’ Exeter tonight. We scored our goals from them areas that we looked at, and again, the boys stuck to their game-plan and we managed to get the three points through that.
“We found, I’m not even sure if it was a park this morning we found in Exeter, it was a little piece of grass we went through set pieces on this morning and to see them come off like that was very, very pleasing.”
Supporters can watch Adam Murray’s post-match interview on Stags Player HD later.