Stags’ boss David Flitcroft has said that his charges ‘fought tooth and nail’ to record a win in today’s 4-2 victory over Cheltenham Town at One Call Stadium.
After taking a two-goal lead into half-time courtesy of a CJ Hamilton brace, the Stags were pegged back to two-apiece following efforts from Chris Hussey and Charlie Raglan.
However, the duo of Will Atkinson and Alex MacDonald came off the bench to secure the three points from a thrilling encounter.
The manager described the performance as a ‘good day’s work.’
“We picked the team knowing we could change shape to a back-four,” said the boss. “It didn’t feel right for the first 15 minutes, but once we switched, some of the quality was fantastic.
“He [Hamilton] wants to threaten in behind and he does. He’s devastating when he makes those runs.
“I challenged the team to step up to the plate in the absence of Tyler [Walker] and they have done.
“It’s not a free-kick on the edge of our box [which led to a Cheltenham goal]. Chris Hussey has stepped up and it’s a brilliant free-kick, but we shouldn’t have been in that position.
“At 2-1 they [Cheltenham] had something to fight for. They got the second goal from a great delivery. At 2-2, it was one of those games that was on a knife edge.
“The fighting quality, resilience and the ‘not lose’ mentality [was there]. I was buzzing for him [Atkinson]. It was nearly already a goal and he’s finished it off.
“For Macca [Alex MacDonald] to come on [and score] – he’s calling himself Thierry Henry in there! He powered away and it’s a really calm finish to seal a brilliant win.
“They [players] are a credit, they fought tooth and nail to give our supporters a victory today.
“The players have worked hard after two defeats and they’ve fought. It’s a really good day’s work today.”
"They [players] are a credit, they fought tooth and nail to give our supporters a victory today."
The Stags’ chief says that the win was a result of the entire squad coming together.
“Tyler [Walker] is a miss and he scores late goals – you have that in the back of your mind. I think the momentum shifted at 2-2, and we had to come out and fight again.
“It did need Macca’s goal to calm everyone down. 3-2 is a dangerous scoreline and they held off well. We locked the pitch down.
“Cheltenham made a good change with Tyrone Barnett, because he caused us a few problems. All credit to Cheltenham in the second-half for making an absolute fist of it.
“It’s a really pleasing day and we’ve had a lot of positives. I’m delighted with the squad. Everyone has played a part.
“There is a real cohesion in the squad. They want each other to do well and that’s important.”
The manager was also delighted with how his players ‘stepped up’ in the absence of top scorer Tyler Walker, who was suspended for the match.
“Scoring four goals without Tyler [was a positive]. I think that’s a standout moment for us as we have relied on his goals.
“CJ has stepped up to the plate and Will Atkinson came in late on and stepped up to the plate. It’s important that they did because Tyler has felt that on him all year.
“To not have Tyler, the lads could have gone into their shells, but they didn’t. It was good today and I really enjoyed it.
“It was another [under-18s go free] offer that our owners put on, and the stadium was electric.”
In addition, the manager explained his decision to introduce Atkinson at half-time, and also provided an update on defender Matt Preston, who missed today’s game with a knee injury.
“I felt down that [right] side, we might be able to get Will Atkinson on as a more advanced midfield player.
“Chris Hussey for them is probably their man influence so I wanted a real calm head down that side, and Will gave us that.
“First 20 minutes of the second-half, he was nice and calm and kept the ball well. The fact that he’s got a goal is a bonus.
“For about three or four weeks now he [Preston] has been struggling with his knee joint. He trains every day and commits every day.
“He just couldn’t make the game. He came off the training ground yesterday and iced it [knee] up. He’s been managing it. It can flare up anytime and it did yesterday.
“We’ll get a scan done on it and an injection, and hopefully we’ll have him back.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.