Stags’ boss Adam Murray has praised his side for fighting until the end in tonight’s 3-2 Checkatrade Trophy victory over Derby County at the iPro Stadium.
Stags raced in to a 2-0 lead inside the first five minutes thanks to goals from winger Ashley Hemmings and striker Darius Henderson, before Rams’ midfielder Jamie Hanson pulled a goal back thanks to a deflected free-kick in the first half.
Andreas Weimann’s late deflected goal sent the game heading for penaltlies before midfielder Chris Clements curled an exquisite 25-yard strike in to the top corner to send Stags in to the second round of the competition.
And manager Murray has commended his side’s willingness to play until the final whistle after seeing them secure a stoppage time winner after being pegged back late on.
“Even at 2-2 in the last minute, they’re going for the game and we tweaked the shape a little bit and went to the three at the back in the second half to try and get bodies forward and fair play to the boys, they carried it out,” said Murray.
“You look at the first ten minutes, we played some fantastic football and what happens when you do that and you go 2-0 up, you think you’re Barcelona for 20 minutes! We played in to their hands, we scored two goals and the boys were fantastic.
“The thing that we speak about is getting the balance and the decisions right. You can’t play total football and not mix it up by playing forward when you have to and I think for probably 20 minutes of the first half, we overplayed and created our own problems and it was just getting that balance again.
"When the boys are like that and they’re confident, they just want to pass the ball and play and I don’t want to take that away from them.”
Midfielder Chris Clements’ wonderful injury-time winner capped off a captain’s performance from the man who was handed the armband by Adam Murray prior to kick off and the manager explained that the decision to name him as skipper is testament to the former Crewe Alexandra player's recent performances.
“I think in his performances of late, he’s been showing a lot of responsibility. I wanted to give him that little bit of an edge in terms of ‘take that next step in your development’. He’s someone that leads by performances at times and people have said over the years that he can be a luxury but when he’s on it, he can be one of our key players. I felt he earned the right to be captain tonight and it was really good to see.
“He played like a captain tonight – he led the team, it was an excellent performance from him and [he] tops it off with a fantastic goal.”
With his side now securing their passage to the next round, the manager has outlined his desire to progress as far as possible in the competition.
“What we want to do now is build on that and use that as a platform to spring in to the play-off fight and if we can progress in this cup now and get as close as we can to finals and stuff like that, let’s get some success.”
Supporters can now watch Adam Murray’s post-match interview on Stags PlayerHD.