Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray says his players ‘gave everything’ during today’s 2-2 draw with league leaders Northampton Town.Stags went into half-time with a two-goal lead thanks to a brace of headers from striker Matt Green, before midfielder Jamie McGuire was sent off in first half injury time for a second bookable offence.
Murray's men fought hard in the second period to preserve their lead against the 11 men of Northampton, but were ultimately pegged back by a penalty from Ricky Holmes and a close-range finish by John Marquis to ensure the Cobblers went home with a share of the points.
However, Stags’ boss Murray praised his players for their determination after going down to ten men against the high-flying Cobblers.
“[I’m] proud of the lads, really, really proud of the players. They couldn’t give anymore. They’re on the last legs and they couldn’t have given more of a go.
“We deserved more than that today but it’s a good point against a very, very strong team. I can’t ask anymore of the players; they can’t do anymore than what they’ve done today – they’re dead on their feet in there.
“We still tried to go forward, we tried to keep two centre-forwards on the pitch for as long as we could, but they’re obviously a very good team and they tried to move us around and shut up shop.”
The manager said he knew there were certain weaknesses his side could exploit against the Cobblers, which paid dividends after striker Matt Green headed two goals from free-kicks in the first half.
“One of their strengths is set pieces – but we knew there were certain aspects where we could ‘get at them’ in general play and from dead ball situations.
“Our quality from set pieces probably hasn’t been to the standard that the lads set at the start of the season recently, but I think that does come with a knock-on effect of confidence etc.
“We work on our set plays a lot; delivery was great, bravery was great and we scored two very good goals.”
Our manager said that the players were ‘disappointed’ with only coming away from the game with a draw and are looking forward to finishing the Sky Bet League 2 campaign strongly.
"They’re disappointed they haven’t won it because I felt our first half performance deserved that. With ten men against someone like that, you’re always going to be under the cosh,” Murray said.
“They believe it should’ve been three points. That’s a gutting feeling, but that’s a building block to finish our season off strong against a team like that – let’s be honest, like we said before the game, they (Northampton) don’t lose football matches, they’ve been fantastic all season and you take your hat off to them for that.
“You look at what we’ve had out lately, Mal Benning, Mitch Rose, Dan Alfei, Mani (Dieseruvwe), even people like Chris Clements, they haven’t got a lot of Football League games and not a lot of Football League experience and you need that. This group will only get stronger.”
You can view Murray’s post-match interview on Stags Player.