New goalkeeper Jordan Smith says he is eager to help continue the work of ‘the best defence in the league,’ after signing on loan for the Stags last week.
We announced last Thursday that the 24-year-old had made the switch from Nottingham Forest to One Call Stadium until the end of the season.
The ‘keeper says he wants to maintain Stags’ fine defensive record, which currently sits at a league-best of 20 goals conceded in 27 matches.
“I know that I’m coming in behind the best defence in the league who carry their record proudly,” he said. “It’s something I want to carry on and make even better.
“It’s incredible how high the standards are [in the Stags’ defence], not that I underestimated it. The tempo and the intensity that the lads work at, you can see that straight away.
“The chemistry is there between the centre-halves. Even though we had to make changes after Matt Preston’s unfortunate red card [against Yeovil], I thought we were just as solid.
“I said as soon as I joined that communication was going to be key. We all have to be disciplined and concentrate as a lot of our good play is done in the final third of the pitch.
“I have to be barking at them [defence] and making sure we’re set up for any counter-attacks. With KP [Krystian Pearce] in front of me as the skipper, he’s been brilliant.
"I know that I’m coming in behind the best defence in the league who carry their record proudly. It’s something I want to carry on and make even better."
“There have been balls that have come into the box of real quality. Crawley were unfortunate as they hit the post.
“We back our boys in midfield to go and win the scrap and take the game to them from there. The league is not without its quality, so I’m relishing the games to come.”
Reflecting on his first two appearances for the amber and blue, Smith conceded that there will be no easy games over the remainder of the Sky Bet League Two campaign.
“Usually you have to play a full season before you can say it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, but I’ve been here a week and I think I’ve had that already. Obviously we had the loss to Yeovil, then the highs of the late winner on Tuesday [against Crawley].
“It wasn’t the debut I wanted, but on Tuesday we managed to put it right and have that jubilation.
“It [loss to Yeovil] confirmed to me that there aren’t going to be any easy games in this league. The league table doesn’t lie, however, we saw a Yeovil side who had a game plan and executed it well.
“In football you don’t have much time to lick your wounds. We had to put it right, which I think we did on Tuesday.
“I don’t think I had an awful lot to do in either of the games, but the manager alluded to it in his post match press conference that you have to be alert.
“It was good for me to get a couple of decent saves in, and I’m so glad it played an important part as we managed to go on and get that winner.”
Tuesday’s victory over Crawley saw the Mansfield debut of creative attacking midfielder Jorge Grant, a player Smith knows well, with both players on loan from Nottingham Forest.
The shot-stopper says that Grant’s quality was there for all to see in the victory.
“I think it [Grant’s performance] spoke for itself. He won man of the match on the night and the fans voted him man of the match since.
“That’s exactly what we knew he was going to bring to the table and that’s why the manager fought so hard to get him.
“Anyone who wasn’t sure of his quality, his performance spoke for itself. I think he’s only going to improve from here, because at times maybe he was a bit too sharp or too quick.
“I’ve faced him first hand in training – it’s not pleasant! He just has that real quality, whether it’s that final pass or a shot.”
Smith has started both fixtures since signing for the Stags, a decision that the goalkeeper knows was not an easy one for ‘fantastic’ manager David Flitcroft to make.
“I did come for first team football. I did look, and I know that he [Conrad Logan] played the last few [before I came] and he played really well. I have massive respect for him.
“The manager has been fantastic. I don’t think he was an easy decision [to start me] and I don’t think it was one he took lightly.
“He pulled both ‘keepers in on my first morning and spoke to us and gave his reasoning behind it, which I thought he was fantastic and the best way to go about it.
“Hopefully, with the two performances that I’ve had so far, I hope I’ve affirmed that his decision was the right one.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Jordan Smith’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.