Stags’ boss David Flitcroft has praised his players’ ‘application’ in tonight’s 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy victory over Wolves’ under-21s at One Call Stadium.
Midfielder Jacob Mellis and defender Mal Benning both netted in either half to give Mansfield the victory that ensured they would progress to the next round of the competition.
Speaking after the game, the Stags’ manager spoke highly of the effort his charges showed in the match.
“The most important thing is winning football matches. I’ve been really disappointed at only achieving two points from the last two games.
“The players were hurting after the Bury game. I thought the boys’ commitment tonight and application [were good].
“I was disappointed not to get the clean sheet tonight because I think Logan’s performance deserved one.
“You look at the application [from the players] and you know you are playing for the shirt, playing for the town and playing for your place. I thought our application was really good.
“His [Atkinson’s] application today to get forward and move them [Wolves] out of position was fantastic. We really set about them early.
“We just didn’t get enough crosses in second half to really hurt them. But I’m still delighted with tonight’s performance and result.
“We saw it [the game] out a lot better. We utilised the ball well. We spent more time moving it wide and frustrating them, and that’s what we have to improve as a group.
"The players were hurting after the Bury game. I thought the boys’ commitment tonight and application [were good]."
“It’s another learning night and another night where we have got a victory. I’m really delighted with the application tonight from everyone.
“There were a lot of questions tonight that we wanted answering, and we were able to look at quite a lot of things that we wanted to.”
After making seven changes to the side that last appeared for the Stags against Bury, the manager was pleased with the displays of the players who came into the team for tonight’s match.
“Jordan Graham has been knocking and he has been training really well. He’s a really good finisher. I just said to him at half-time, ‘believe in yourself.’
“Again, we saw what Butch [Calum Butcher] could do in there as a different number ten to Otis [Khan]. He’s robust, athletic, and gets around the pitch. He works incredibly hard.
“I’m really happy with the players and minutes that the players have got, and what we have got out of tonight’s game.
“It [Graham starting] gives everyone hope. We’ve had a lot of the young players train with us who want to get that chance and have an opportunity.
“Jordan has been waiting in the wings and learning. Jordan’s got minutes in tonight and Gibbo [Lewis Gibbens] was unlucky not to play.
“The [new] training ground will help, when the under-21s are training alongside us. I’ll be able to get out in the afternoon and coach them. It’s exciting.”
The manager went on to highlight the importance of the Checkatrade Trophy competition, with a trip to Wembley on offer for the tournament’s finalists.
“Any competition is important. There’s a chance at getting to Wembley. It’s a phenomenal place and something that this competition gives us as an opportunity.
“These [games] can be tricky. They have powerful and quick players. We could’ve put this game to bed after ten minutes quite easily.”
Lastly, the Stags’ boss spoke of the postponement of this weekend’s scheduled fixture against Grimsby Town, and gave the latest updates on the injuries of midfielder Alex MacDonald and striker Craig Davies.
“When the Crewe game was postponed, we tried fitting it in as soon as possible. It was proving really difficult to get the game on. You’re waiting to catch those three points.
“When the international break comes around and the two centre-backs who have been key in keeping one of the best defensive records in the league [get called up], that’s the difficulty in itself.
“You’re taking away two of your back-line. [Hayden] White was still a doubt and we had to let Grimsby know by 1pm [on Monday].
“Neal Bishop is suspended, Alex MacDonald is out and Craig Davies. It’s one we’ll get back, but it’s just one of those things.
“Alex [MacDonald] has had his operation which went really well. Macca was fit and strong as he went into the operation. We don’t have a timeline on it just yet.
“We are still looking into Craig’s injury, to see if we can settle the ankle down. We have nothing definite on that at the minute, but it’s something that I am eager to get news on.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.