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Defender 'colossal' on debut - Stags' boss

25 August 2018

Stags’ boss David Flitcroft has described the performance of defender Lewis Gibbens as ‘colossal,’ in what was his professional debut for Mansfield.

Gibbens, who won the Young Player of the Season award last term, came in for Hayden White, who was out with a minor issue with his right hamstring.

The manager explained that he was impressed by Gibbens’ performance, and says that the team are disappointed not to have won for the 18-year-old defender.

“He [Gibbens] has deserved that chance,” he said. “I’ve said previously that against Rotherham [in pre-season] I looked over to the bench. I could’ve put Digby [now at Forest Green Rovers] on at that point but I went for Gibbo because of how he was training.

“I got the sight of it really in Portugal when I watched him train with the first team and saw what he produced. He’s honest and sincere.

“It was a colossal performance. The two strikers here don’t give you a minute. He’s come into a game where he’s been tested and he’s stood up to that test.

“I was gutted for him because you always remember your debut. I wanted that win for him. I said to the players they’ve let Gibbo down not getting the win.

“He [Hayden White] has had a really mixed week. Hayden was up and down the motorway and in a hospital chair, didn’t have much sleep [due to partner’s pregnancy]. The factors have contributed to fatigue.

"It was a colossal performance. The two strikers here don’t give you a minute. He’s come into a game where he’s been tested and he’s stood up to that test."

David Flitcroft, manager

“He’s tightened his hamstring. I didn’t want to risk him. Because of his form it was important that we made a good decision this morning.

“There was no hesitation to use Gibbo. Just disappointed that he doesn’t have his clean sheet because he definitely deserved one.

Stags’ boss Flitcroft then went on to analyse this afternoon’s outing against Macclesfield, and emphasised the importance of adding a second goal when his side were on the front foot.

“[I’m] bitterly disappointed that we’ve not come here and gained all three points from a winning position,” added the manager. “We took our foot off the gas in the first-half a little bit.

“That’s the time to really step on the gas. We had a lot of good possession first-half. We worked the ball really well and it made them make three changes at half-time.

“But you have to score a second. The way that Macclesfield set up where they smash the ball up and go for set pieces, it’s really important that you score that second.

“We spoke to them at half-time about the importance of that. We’ve not turned the screw, and at 2-0 there would be no way back.

“We have to be ruthless. Players have been brought in to really make the moments count. We have to better in those moments. Nine shots on target and some really good chances and it’s the same story. It’s not good enough.

“That’s something we have to take on board. I never felt in fear of the game or as though we’d lose it, but we have to come to Macclesfield and make more of chances created.

“When you’re good, and I’m looking at Walker, Davies, Rose and Khan, these are quality players. They have to believe that in those moments that you’re good enough, not just to score and win the game, but go on and technically be supreme in that moment.

“We have to speak to the players and we’ll work on that Monday. But it’s a belief factor. I think with the attacking play we’re certainly getting enough opportunities, but we have to make maximum impact.

“I’m disappointed we’ve not made more of the dominance at times. It’s important that we do turn draws into wins.”

The manager also spoke of defender Matt Preston, who missed today’s game due to concussion, and gave an update on the club’s current stance in the transfer market.

 “He [Preston] has to go for a scan earlier this week. Then there’s a protocol that we have to adhere to. I’m hoping by the back end of next week we’ll have him involved in what we’re doing.

“We’re still looking to recruit. We potentially have a couple of players that could get international call-ups. That’s something we’re mindful of.

“I want to make sure before the window closes that we’re locked in. We don’t have that situation where you’re grasping and clutching at straws. We’re looking at every eventuality.”

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s Carabao Cup clash against West Brom, the manager said that there could be changes to the side that featured against Macclesfield today.

“There’s a possibility [that we could make changes for West Brom game]. We’ll see what the lads read tomorrow and we’ll see where we’re at.

“I think that Calum Butcher and Will Atkinson have been unlucky not to get on the pitch today. We’ll have a good look at it.

“Straight away our thoughts are what we can do better here. That gives you the vision to see what the West Brom team could look like. Then we have to make a strategy to get a positive result.

“This football club want to win [every game]. We won’t take the game lightly. It’s a brilliant opportunity to represent ourselves in a top class facility at a fantastic football club. The supporters that travel will want us to be ultra-competitive.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into later today.

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