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Stags' boss pleased with defensive display in win

28 July 2018

Stags' boss David Flitcroft has praised his side's resolute defensive display in Mansfield's 2-1 win over Championship outfit Rotherham United this afternoon.

First-half strikes from Craig Davies and Tyler Walker granted Stags the victory, but the team had to dig deep in the second-half to record their third pre-season win out of a possible four against Championship opposition.

The manager says that this afternoon's affair was closer to what the Stags can expect in the 2018-19 league season than any of the other pre-season fixtures, and heaped praise on the defenders who remained firm to hold onto Mansfield's one-goal lead throughout the entirety of the second-half.

"In terms of results it [win today] did [cap off pre-season]," he said. "Rotherham represent a team full of players that have one cause. They play it forward early and they play it forward fast.

"We've not really come up against that as much because of the sorts of teams we've played. Derby and Sheffield Wednesday wanted to move the ball quick at times.

"This was a robust game and a game that had set pieces we had to be astute on. We conceded a goal from a set piece, which I was disappointed about, but we had to dig in at times and be strong. 

"Defensively, the three defenders and Conrad Logan absolutely stood firm when they got tested. I'm delighted with that.

"We scored another two goals and that pleases me. I think we've managed the last two games really well, and that's something we've tried to speak to the group about.

"There's been a lot of positives throughout the pre-season but this has represented real-time football and we came through it pretty much unscathed.

"I look at White and Preston today [as standout performers] I thought Matt Preston had a lot to deal with today. Michael Smith gives anyone a problem. They dealt with that really well. 

"Defensively, the three defenders and Conrad Logan absolutely stood firm when they got tested. I'm delighted with that."

David Flitcroft, manager

"As a central defender, I thought he [Preston] was outstanding today. It was the best performance that he's played. As a test, that's probably the hardest test he'll come up against all next season. He came through it with flying colours.

"He [Mal Benning] was someone who committed and really wanted that summer programme. Since I've come in he's been one who has carried on getting better and fitter and stronger. He's a thinking footballer. He thinks about the game and understands the game."

Stags' boss Flitcroft also gave an update on defender Nathan Cameron, who recently trained with Mansfield, and midfielder Otis Khan, who missed today's game through illness.

"Nathan Cameron is a no-go now. He's had a scan and revealed that it's a complete new injury on his knee ligament. Cam's going to have some time out.

"We've got a few good options in term of loan options and one who has come up free who is available now. 

"He [Otis] has had a bug. It's important we don't bring him around the other players in such a big week. When I've looked at his game time, he's got the minutes in and trained every game.

"I'm not really concerned. He's got the game time and the supporters have seen what he offers.

"At times we missed Otis today with the way he carries the ball up the pitch."

The manager added that striker Danny Rose managed to play 30 minutes in a behind-closed-doors game against Hull in midweek, as last season's top scorer looks to recover from a toe injury.

"He [Rose] got the last 30 [minutes against Hull]. There was a thought process to starting him. What we wanted to do is wait for the game to settle down a bit. 

"When the game died down Danny came on. He got 25 to 30 minutes but that was probably too many for him at this stage. He's only joined in a couple of sessions now. He's working with the first team but we're just giving him that extra what the other players have got with their base fitness.

"We'll get him up to speed and we're working on it as a team. By the end of next week he's going to look much better than he did last week. We'll get that progression I'm sure.

"He'll be with us to to do the phase work and possession work. We've got an angle on it and we'll make sure we get Danny right up to speed as soon as we can."

The Mansfield boss says that there are just a few minor adjustments to be made ahead of the season's opener against Newport County next Saturday, and spoke of his delight for on-loan Walker, who scored his first goal for the amber and blue today.

"If the game [first game of the season] would've been today I would've had no qualms. Next week will just give us that fine-tuning what we need. 

"It's just about sharpening the whole thing up. I'm really pleased for Tyler Walker with the goal that he's got. You can see his quality by the way he got past Championship defenders at ease. 

"Tyler is one who has had a really robust pre-season. When you're a development player like he's been you probably get eight to 12 weeks to get fit. We've got to try and get these boys match ready in six weeks.

"I can see by the way everyone is celebrating that they're chuffed for him. The goal is a big weight off his shoulders.

"There's a togetherness that we've grown in Portugal which has allowed us to bring in the quality that I talked about last season. There is a hunger and an ambition to what they do. We've had some very tough tests, each one different, but they've come through them. 

"I've watched a group of players improve and grow. Now they are ready."

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