Stags' boss Adam Murray said his side 'gave everything' at high-flying Plymouth this afternoon, and will 'learn lessons' from the 3-0 loss as they head into the final third of the season.
Promotion-chasing Argyle displayed a number of good passages of play during the game and striker Ryan Brunt was the match-winner for the home side with his second-half effort adding to his first-half penalty, after Gregg Wylde had put the Pilgrims ahead with a well-hit 25-yard strike.
Stags had chances of their own; Ryan Tafazolli headed against the post in the first half before seeing another headed attempt cleared off the line by goalscorer Brunt in the second half.
And Murray, who watched the game from the directors’ box, says his side should take a number of lessons on board from today's game.
"I said to the boys, the biggest thing is that as individuals, they go away and they learn from today, that’s the only way we get better is if they learn. As a team, we know what we need to do better to take the next step, but as individuals they ultimately need to understand what they need to do to get better.
"I’m disappointed with the goals but the overall performance, I’m not disappointed with because we’ve come to a top team here, who I believe will get automatic promotion. So we’ve gone toe-to-toe with them and they’ve come out better on the day."
Following a run of matches which has seen his side embark on a number of long away trips, Murray says today's match was 'one step too far' for his players.
“It was one game too far for us. We looked lethargic, we looked a little bit ‘zapped’ of energy today and they were coming into it after a two-week break and they looked fresh. They were clinical and ruthless when they had their chances and we weren’t.
“A striking thing today was their ruthlessness in both boxes – defensively, they didn’t allow half a yard and [at] the other end, half a chance and it’s a goal.”
After initially thinking the penalty was given for a foul on Peter Hartley by defender Krystian Pearce, Murray revealed that the referee actually gave the spot kick for a foul committed by Chris Beardsley, however the gaffer has no complaints with the decision.
The boss also expressed his disappointment at the type of goals his side have conceded both today, and against Oxford United on Tuesday evening.
“The goals we’ve conceded in the last two games; I’m really disappointed with. [They are] basic goals, that shouldn’t really be happening. It’s not as if they’ve opened us up with super play; it’s basic goals and if you’re not going to defend your box properly against good teams and good players then you’re going to get punished, and that was the case today."
Murray continued: “Today, the disappointing thing was some of our decision-making, at times, was not at the standard that it has been and that’s what cost us today. We were a little bit sloppy in our play and we made some poor decisions. But at the same time we still had our chances, we could’ve punished them more.”
With games coming up against teams which sit lower than themselves in the Sky Bet League Two table, Murray says he isn’t going to be ‘too harsh’ on his players after today’s defeat, and is already looking ahead to the coming weeks.
“I’m not going to get too down on it and I’m not going to be too hard on the players because in the last five weeks, we’ve had a tough run.
“We can’t be too harsh with them. We go into a run of games now where we feel we can pick points up and kick on again, and that’s what we’ve got to do. It’s not the time to worry about losses at the minute.”
You can watch Murray's post-match interview on Stags Player later.