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Interviews

Manager disappointed for fans following stalemate

22 September 2018

Stags’ boss David Flitcroft has said he is ‘gutted’ for the travelling fans after he saw his side concede an 88th minute equaliser against Cambridge United at Abbey Stadium this afternoon.

Mansfield led for the majority of the contest courtesy of Danny Rose’s effort in the first half, yet George Maris’ deflected strike in the closing stages ensured the sides finished with a goal apiece.

Manager Flitcroft explained that he is disappointed that the 475 travelling Stags’ fans did not see their side bring all three points back to One Call Stadium.

“It’s a test of your character,” he said. “You have to make sure in match-winning moments you are true to that. Those moments can’t be questioned.

“We’ve probably had to deal with more set pieces than we’ve dealt with [before] today. And we have done. Really well.

“But it’s really important that it’s a 100% focus. We had a good following today from our supporters and we didn’t get three points for them.

“I’m gutted for them [fans]. After 88 minutes we’ve got three points in the bag and we’ve given them up.”

The Stags’ boss went on to analyse his side’s performance, and cited the second half display as the reason for not earning victory this afternoon.

“It’s only a point. When you’ve got three in the bag and you give them up, to lose them so late, it rips your heart out,” added Flitcroft.

“We stopped moving the ball second half and stopped being brave on the ball. We gave Cambridge too much time and kept inviting crosses.

“We got into good positions in the last third of the pitch and we almost just gave those opportunities up, which allowed them to come at us again.

“I’m gutted for them [fans]. After 88 minutes we’ve got three points in the bag and we’ve given them up.”

David Flitcroft, manager

“The lads did well in the first 30 minutes to get the goal, and we looked comfortable. It’s almost like we then don’t want to go on and hurt a team and be really ruthless.

“It gives teams hope. It allows them to throw bodies forward. They did that and they thoroughly deserved the equaliser.

“We have to do better in those key moments and control the game. We didn’t control the game in the second half.

“I question the character of the players to get in those key positions and keep being brave and making angles. [We have to] have that no fear approach, but we didn’t.

“Our ball retention in key areas, we didn’t keep the ball or do enough on the ball. Today it’s not about chances created. We’ve had to sit in and they’ve come at us second half. When we’ve counter-attacked, there’s not been enough quality or care on the ball.

“[We had to] keep doing what we were doing when we were 1-0 up. We didn’t do that.

“When teams are getting beat, they’re going to come at you. You have to be resolute, and we were for 88 minutes.

“I think Timi Elsnik came on and out care in his work. He tried to get us some control of the game.

“They had players in advanced positions and kept asking questions. The crosses that he [Olejnik] takes, it [his performance] was almost immaculate. Real pristine work.

“I look at Bobby’s performance today as almost a perfect performance from a player. Focused, concentrated, and he excelled today in key moments.

“We need a squad full of players that are prepared to do that. We didn’t get that right today.”

The manager went on to praise Rose’s 26th minute finish, before speaking of what he believes was a ‘deserved’ leveller for the hosts.

“We worked the ball wide really well. We’ve been working on when Danny is playing that we have to cross earlier and get the ball into him.

“We did first half. We asked questions of Cambridge and our work was good and really consistent.

“It was just anticipation from Danny and a desire to score goals, which is what he’s all about. In that moment his quality was there for all to see. It was a really good finish.

“The hunger to score that goal was key for me. When you have Danny in the team you do have to cross the ball earlier than what we perhaps do at times.

“Cambridge threatened and deserved that [equaliser]. He’s [Maris] had time to sight it and time to look down the ball and get a shot off. It probably would have gone over but they’ve probably deserved that little bit of luck.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


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