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Boss enthuses over Stags' second half in Bees win

3 February 2018

Although he admitted his disappointment at not keeping a clean sheet, Stags' boss Steve Evans lauded his side's 'brilliant' second half performance in this afternoon's 3-1 win over Barnet as they extended their unbeaten run to nine Sky Bet League Two games.

Winger Alex MacDonald scored a sensational opening goal in the first half, curling the ball into the top corner, before midfielder Will Atkinson and top scorer Danny Rose both converted in the second period to put Stags 3-0 ahead. Bees' substitute Simeon Akinola then scored a late consolation, latching onto a short back header from defender Rhys Bennett.

And after a half-time team talk centred around the gaffer's desire to move the ball quicker, the former Leeds United boss was impressed with his side's second half display.

"I thought we were brilliant for the first 40 minutes of the second half; we moved it quicker, we moved it sharper, we had a lot of one-twos, we had a lot of triangles, we had a lot of chances," the Stags' chief said.

"We get the two [second half] goals. [The first was] a good training ground move with Kane Hemmings going across the front post with Will coming in behind him and that worked perfectly. Then brilliant play by [CJ] Hamilton, he picks Danny out and Danny does what he does, it's a fantastic finish.

"The way we moved the ball was impressive in the second half. Joel Byrom was involved in the play, Will Atkinson was going box-to-box, our two wide players were giving us real options going forward. My two full-backs I thought were fantastic.

"They were over-lapping at pace, picking the runs, good co-ordination play that we worked on earlier in the week and good movement from the strikers, I think they were a real handful and that continued.

"The gulf was massive in open play and that's credit to the boys out there, every single one of them because they've got some good players, Barnet. They've got good players and we had to step up and produce a really solid performance. I thought we were brilliant until 89 minutes."

The Stags' chief admits he is 'hurt' by Barnet's late consolation goal following a mistake from Rhys Bennett.

"I'm hurt with the goal, it should be a clean sheet. I know he tries to head it back but he probably tries to head it from around his knees. It's just a poor decision from Rhys Bennett, but Rhys was excellent [overall].

"If he makes many more like that, he goes out, that's the rules in the camp because the competition's so tough. Paul Digby and Zander Diamond are looking at that and going 'ooh, there's a chink of light of me playing'."

Midfielder Alex MacDonald, who was voted as the supporters' Player of the Month for January earlier this week, was handed the sponsors' Man-of-the-Match this afternoon and the gaffer believes the 26-year-old's performance reaffirmed his view that the former Oxford United man is currently performing at the level of a Championship player.

"He's got a heart the size of Big Ben, he's got the legs the size of taxi wheels and he gets around the pitch tenaciously and I love the boy."

Steve Evans, manager

"Alex MacDonald who, I said he could play in the Championship, he endorsed it today. Not just with his effort and determination to get around the pitch, but a stunning goal. People will see it tonight, it's just a stunning finish.

"Alex does that on a regular basis in training and we've been encouraging the wee man to pull the trigger and to get it on target. That's the key for him because he pulls it enough and it goes wide.

"He's never short of confidence and neither should he be. He's got a heart the size of Big Ben, he's got the legs the size of taxi wheels and he gets around the pitch tenaciously and I love the boy.

"I love him in my team; if I'm picking a seven-a-side team in the week, Alex would get picked every week for me."

Supporters can login to iFollow Stags to view the manager's full post-match interview.


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