Stags’ boss Adam Murray says he will take a lot of positives from tonight's performance against a strong Blackburn Rovers' side.
Murray’s men bowed out of the EFL Cup, losing 3-1 to a competitive Blackburn outfit thanks to a brace from striker Anthony Stokes and a powerful header from Shane Duffy, despite Stags’ midfielder Mitch Rose making it 1-1 just after half-time with a well-placed header.
And the manager says that the difference on the night was the ruthlessness of the Championship side, who have the quality to punish ‘half a mistake’.
“The goals were weak from our point of view, but all they need is half a chance to punish you and that was the difference tonight,” Murray said.
“I thought it showed, at times, their quality. I think they probably had, before the game opened up in the last 15 minutes, a couple of chances and scored a couple of goals but overall, I thought our performance against a Championship team was good.
“I thought it was a lively game, a high energy game [with] a fast tempo and I thought we were the best team for large parts.”
Stags started the game without a recognised centre-forward on the pitch as Murray opted for an interchanging front three of James Baxendale, CJ Hamilton and Ashley Hemmings and the manager says he was impressed by their performances.
“Considering none of them are centre-forwards, I thought it went really well. It caused them a lot of problems.
“I think the movement and some of the patterns of play were very, very good. [I’m] disappointed to lose but what we got out of the game was some good fitness work [and] a very competitive game against a strong Championship team.”
The 34-year-old now has three days to prepare his squad for the visit of Cheltenham Town in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday (3pm kick-off) and he says that the match against the Robins is a ‘totally different environment’ compared with tonight’s clash with Rovers.
“With all due respect to League Two, you won’t come up against that standard of player very often in our league. You probably do get away with the odd mistake in our league whereas when you come up against the 'big boys', half a mistake and they punish you, and that was the case tonight.
“We said before the game the priority this season is obviously the league; the cup was never going to be on top of the agenda. The performances from individuals and the team tonight was very, very good so we’ll look past the result and we’ll take a heck of a lot of positives from that.”
Supporters can now view Adam Murray’s post-match interview on Stags PlayerHD.