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We'll work on landing 'knockout blow,' says Stags' boss

25 September 2018

David Flitcroft’s men are determined to work on landing a killer blow in training this week, the manager said at a news conference this morning.

The Stags face Northampton Town at One Call Stadium this weekend, following a 1-1 draw against Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium, a game in which Mansfield conceded late on courtesy of George Maris’ deflected effort.

Ahead of this Saturday’s match, the manager says he is looking for ‘potency’ in attack, something that the players are eager to work for in the days leading up to the game.

“On Saturday, not getting those two points, and the difference that it makes, we’ve flushed that out yesterday,” said the Stags’ boss. “We made sure that we targeted everything that we needed to get right.

“We’ve been really good at home. We really try and hurt teams more than we have done. We’ve relayed to the players that they [Northampton] are coming onto our patch, [so] let’s get this stadium rocking.

“When we do go a goal in front [we have to] go and get that second. We have to be accountable in that moment. We’re just failing on that last bit. When we get that right, we’re going to be a real force. There’s a real strong belief I have about that.

“Now we’ve got the Cambridge point out of the way, there’s been an energy and a want from the players this week to get back on the grass and start putting more potency into that attack.

“You look at that we’ve conceded seven goals this season and it’s up there with the best records in the league. But the goals tally isn’t where I want it to be. That’s what we have to make better and what we’ll be driving this squad to do.

“We’re trying to play with an intent. Because we’ve changed the style of play, we’ve almost been looking for that perfect goal. Well, a perfect goal is the one that goes in. The perfect goal is the one that wins the game.

“We’ve maybe been a bit too intricate. We’ve looked at our work so far, and can we improve that? Absolutely. Do we need to? Absolutely.

“We’ve got a lot right this season. It’s a shift in mindset. We want to see the knockout blow, not a few jabs. It’s [about] going for that killer punch.”

David Flitcroft, manager

“I want to give our fans a team that can play in the right way, but can win in the right way. That’s something that we’ve really driven into this group of players this week.

“We’ve got a lot right this season. It’s a shift in mindset. We want to see the knockout blow, not a few jabs. It’s [about] going for that killer punch.”

The manager also gave injury updates on striker Craig Davies and defender Hayden White, who both were absent for the 1-1 draw against Cambridge.

“With Craig [Davies], we left him behind at the weekend,” added Flitcroft. “He did sessions over the weekend. He’s not far off and will join in with us today for probably 75% of the session.

“He’s done a lot of field-based work. So he will train with us today and then we will assess that situation and see what work he needs to do tomorrow. I’m really hopeful of having Davo back in the squad [this weekend].

“Hayden [White] has gone over on his ankle. So we’re looking at the strain and the severity of that strain.

“The scan is down in London as we speak, so we’ll be more up-to-date hopefully by four o’clock today. That’s when we should get an update from the scan. It had settled down quite a bit and we thought we might have him in and around it [squad], but it’s one of them.

“With an ankle injury you have the initial impact, then it takes a little bit of time. We’ll assess it and see where he’s at come end of play today.”

Ahead of Mansfield’s next contest in Sky Bet League Two, the Stags’ boss profiled the threats that Northampton pose, and what he requires from his players for a positive result.

“They [Northampton] are a team full of experience. They’re probably not where they want to be in the table right now, but they’ll be a dangerous opponent. We saw that with Cambridge on Saturday.

“They have players who can hurt you. They’re going to be an opponent that want to get their season right on track. I think that’s where a lot of teams are coming up to that ten game mark.

“We have to really focus on what we’ve done well at One Call Stadium and make that better.

“Away from home if we go unbeaten until the end of the season then we’re going to be delighted, but only if that is backed up by comprehensive wins at home. We’ve nearly had that. We have to turn that nearly into a definitive.

“When we have gone a goal up at home, the decibels go up and the support we’ve had in the stadium has been phenomenal. Now it’s a case of making sure we step on the gas at that point.

“[We have to] play with that risk and play with that determination to go and get that next goal. We’ve not been ruthless enough. [We need] almost a no fear approach. Bravery and character in those key moments is something. We only have ten goals, and it’s not enough.”

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

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