Stags’ boss David Flitcroft was beaming with pride after seeing his players fight back to rescue a point late on against Lincoln City at Sincil Bank.
Midfielder Jacob Mellis’ stoppage time volley cancelled out Kellan Gordon’s opener to stretch Stags’ unbeaten away record to 13 games in Sky Bet League Two.
After the game, the Mansfield manager shared his delight at the fight his players showed.
“I don’t think we can underestimate what the players have put themselves through today,” he said. “It’s really important that at a tough place like Lincoln, we had to come here and defend that [away unbeaten] record with everything we’ve got.
“We struggled to move the ball today but Lincoln make it frantic. When they put players on like [Matt] Rhead and [Matt] Green, you know they are going to change the game.
“The desire not to get beat, and for Mellis to get there at the end, it was quality and the finish was great.
“Even though we weren’t at our best, we have come out of the game with the dressing room absolutely delighted with it.”
The Stags’ boss emphasised the importance of his players fighting until the death in what has been a hectic schedule of late.
“I have Sweeney here who has tonsillitis and was sick at half-time, I had Hayden White pull up before the game, we had CJ [Hamilton] also struggling with tonsillitis.
“That’s eight weeks now that we’ve played Saturday-Tuesday. It’s been a tough shift for the boys. Lincoln have had the time to freshen up and it showed. They got a foothold in the game in the second half.
“I am absolutely proud of this team and what they have achieved. [To come back] from being behind so late on, tells you what this team is fighting for.
“At Charlton when we were 2-0 down we kept fighting, but at 3-0 I don’t think we did, and that wasn’t me. Even at 3-0 you’re never out of the game.
“I spoke to my players about that, about how we fight until the last breath. We keep going, and at 1-0 down, you always have that threat.
"I am absolutely proud of this team and what they have achieved. [To come back] from being behind so late on, tells you what this team is fighting for."
“Bish [Bishop] has scored a couple of those late goals, but you wanted Mellis on it. Fair play to him that he’s fighting for these boys.
“We didn’t see games out too well in that period [earlier this season]. The more we have played, it’s given us more experience to manage games better.
“The squad are absolutely locked in together. That’s taken a lot of rebuilding over the last six months.
“They were out on their feet and fighting, and that’s the message from me today. I’m proud of them.
“It [late equaliser] meant everything. When you come here, this team that has been built here at Lincoln, they have great momentum.
“It was a great atmosphere. You felt the power of that when they scored. It doesn’t make you feel good, it made me sick to the core.
“It did mean a lot [when we scored]. There’s almost a smugness at times around here. I’m delighted for the team and the supporters, our chairman, Carolyn and the directors.”
The manager also looked ahead to Tuesday night’s contest, a visit from Crawley Town to One Call Stadium in Sky Bet League Two.
“We’ll get back tonight and we’ll hopefully have Whitey [on Tuesday]. We may have to freshen things up, see how CJ is. It gives him and Ryan Sweeney three days to recover.
“It did feel like a victory, but it is only one point on our journey. What it means is that unbreakable spirit. We have to honour the run we are on and protect it.”
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