Stags’ boss Adam Murray has called on his players to ‘express themselves’ after their 1-0 defeat to Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium this afternoon.
Matty Taylor’s 61st-minute goal was enough for the Gas to secure the three points after an opening hour in which there was little to split the two sides.
And reflecting on the performance, Murray has urged his side to play with more belief in their remaining ten games of the season.
“They looked like they were always going to score and we didn’t. We just haven’t got enough attacking threat, we don’t look like we’re going to score and when we do get opportunities we’re nowhere near ruthless enough.
“You look at all our goals, they’ve been conceded in a certain way and frustrating is the nicest word I can think of at the moment.
“We’re not playing with that confidence and belief that we were playing with – we’re not playing with that ‘no fear’ to go and attack and score goals. It looks like we’re doing the opposite to what they’re being told.
We’re telling them, ‘go and express yourself – go and play with an energy and enthusiasm to go and score goals’.”
Despite the defeat, Murray was pleased with the performance of captain Lee Collins who played in an unfamiliar role in central midfield, just in front of the defence.
The manager said: "Lee Collins played really well again. He was the only one that was driving us at times. It’s the half-chances that we need to make better – the balls into the box that bounce and we’re a yard off and we don’t anticipate anything. It goes forward, and comes back easily. When it’s like that you’re constantly on a knife-edge defending.
“They’ve got to stand up and put performances in. I don’t know if the players don’t believe that they’re good enough to make the next step but the gap from us to the top seven; it’s a couple more ingredients because we’re not there.”
Murray has a strong message for his side, as he aims to prevent the season from fizzling out after directing the Stags to a strong position in Sky Bet League 2.
“That’s why we are where we are in the league and we’re in the mid-table area. If we don’t play [with] the spirit and belief then we won’t move on to the next step. I’m not standing for performances like that where it’s ‘easy come, easy go’. I’ve told them, ‘you’re fighting for a job’.
“Against good teams, you only get two or three chances, you’ve got to score; whether it’s a final cross, whether it’s a final pass. That’s what’ll take us to the next level. They’re the ingredients we need adding, whether we’ll do it in the next nine weeks or not, we’ll try.”
With the five-match suspension handed to striker Adi Yussuf this week, Murray has only two fully-fit regular forwards at his disposal, and he wants to add a loan addition to his squad for the remainder of the season.
“We’re doing everything we can to get somebody because we need it, otherwise it’ll be a long nine weeks. We knew this spell was going to be tough for us - the fans that travelled want to see that spirit and want to see that fight. We look like we’re scared of making that next step; my teams aren’t going to be scared.
“When you do take losses it does affect confidence; it does affect belief. We’ve got to into these next ten games now with a fight. I can coach and I can talk. I can’t go over that white line as much as I’d like to. They’ve got to stand up and take ownership. They know the game plan, they know what’s expected of them; carry it out.”
Adam Murray's post-match interview will be available to view on Stags Player shortly.