Stags’ defender Matt Preston says Mansfield are looking to build on the strong defensive record they have set so far in Sky Bet League Two this season, having only conceded seven goals in their opening eight games.
Preston arrived in the summer and was David Flitcroft’s first signing as Stags’ manager.
In a news conference at One Call Stadium today, the 23-year-old talked about the Stags’ defensive record, with their number of goals conceded equalling the best in the division along with Lincoln City, Yeovil Town, Forest Green Rovers and MK Dons.
“I feel like I’ve been playing well when I’ve been playing, and like you’ve said we’ve got the joint record for least goals conceded,” said Preston.
“I feel like as a back three/back five we’re doing well, and I feel like we’re still learning. The more we play games, the more we learn, and we can get that record even better.
“I’m pleased but at the same time we’re displeased because we can do better, because all of us as a back three/back five believe we haven’t been opened up and had a goal scored against us, it’s always been a mistake or a lapse of concentration so obviously we can do better.”
“The gaffer has been telling us that [it starts in training] and that’s what he thinks. I think it’s true, training is where it’s got to start, and you’ve got to keep high standards in training.
“I think the number one thing we’ve been working on is the end product of things. I think we keep the ball well but when we get into the final areas it’s about our final product.
"The more we play games, the more we learn, and we can get that record even better."
“We move the ball well, we keep the ball well and we have roughly 60% possession against most teams. It’s just about when we get to these crucial areas can we up the bit of quality?”
Looking forward to returning to One Call Stadium with two home games in quick succession against Northampton on Saturday and Oldham on Tuesday, Preston said: “Everyone likes playing here. We’ve turned it into almost a fortress and I think that’s what we have to do. We have to make it hard for teams to come here and get any sort of points.
“We’ve started well but some of the results we’re getting haven’t been what we’ve wanted.
“But at the same time, we’ve only got one loss [against Exeter], so you’ve got to take positives from that. It means that we’re hard to beat but we want to be winning and want to strive for better.”
Reflecting on last week’s 1-1 draw at Cambridge, Preston believes Mansfield needed to ‘dig in’ to come away with three points.
“I felt frustrated. We started the first 30 minutes and we were on fire, we got the goal and it felt like we took our foot off the gas a little bit which we can’t do and towards the end of the game they were obviously going to throw everything they’ve got at us.
“I felt like we could’ve hung on to the 1-0. Besides we weren’t playing very well but that’s the sort of game where you need to dig in.”
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