Stags’ defender Matt Preston has cited the reason for Mansfield’s solid defensive record as being the emphasis put on positioning and shape by manager David Flitcroft.
Mansfield boast the second best defensive record in Sky Bet League Two, having only conceded nine goals in 11 games thus far.
Preston, who has featured regularly in the Stags’ back-five this season, says the resilience in front of the Mansfield goal comes from being ‘drilled’ on shape in training.
“The number one thing to that [defensive record] is being drilled on shape,” said the defender. “I think as a back three or back five we’re very well drilled on where we need to be. The defensive mentality we have is to be robust.
“We just have to be better in both boxes, both defensively and offensively. In the key moments it takes that bit of finesse or that bit of quality to put the ball away, or takes that bit of resilience to keep the ball out of the net.
“That’s what we’re lacking at the minute, but I think with more games and more minutes, the results will come.
“I think it’s just a matter of time. I think it’s going to take just one result or one instance where things will start clicking.
"I think as a back three or back five we’re very well drilled on where we need to be. The defensive mentality we have is to be robust."
“Like we’ve said before, we’re getting chance after chance every game, so if we can start scoring those and keep the defensive shape that we’ve got, it’s only a winning thing.
“I think it [training] has [been good] since I’ve been here. The gaffer finds the balance between working hard and working too hard. But at the same time, trying to drill us on the things we are not getting right.”
Preston faces a return to former club Swindon Town on Saturday, after joining the Stags from the Robins in May of this year.
The 23-year-old says although he has no bad memories of his time at Swindon, he will go into Saturday’s game determined to win.
“I don’t hold any bad thoughts towards Swindon,” he added. “They treated me like one of their own since I joined there. But of course I want to go there and win. Who doesn’t want to go and beat the team that they’ve been at?
“But, like I say, I don’t hold any bad thoughts against them. They treated me so well. It will be good to go back and see a few of the players I played with.
“From what was there last season, I think they have made some good signings. With the new manager, Phil Brown, he was always going to do that.
“I think they have started quite well. I think they are in a similar position to us because it’s about getting the results at the right time for them as well."
The defender also featured in the weekend’s behind-closed-doors friendly against Birmingham City, and described the 1-1 draw as a worthwhile test, following the postponement of the scheduled Sky Bet League Two fixture against Grimsby Town.
“It was a good test for us [against Birmingham]. We’ve not been getting the results we have been wanting [in the league], so to have been given a week off would have been tricky.
“It was a game where you had to be self-motivated to play in it, and I think we were. They put up quite a good team so it was always going to be a tough test.
“The results haven’t been going our way but we need to keep doing the right things and keep playing the way we have been, and the results will turn.”
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