Stags’ boss David Flitcroft says that despite Mansfield not finding that elusive second goal against table-toppers Lincoln this evening, he was left pleased by the ‘abundance’ of endeavour on show from his players.
Captain Krystian Pearce headed the Stags into the lead inside five minutes, before striker John Akinde rolled home a penalty deep into the second-half.
The manager says that his side required a second goal to ‘take the fight away’ from the Imps.
“We got that early goal and we’d been working on that set piece,” he said. “It gave us a fantastic start and it set the stadium off. I thought we played well, and we influenced the game really well.
“They were always going to get a rocket at half-time, which they did, and they came out and gave us a tougher time second-half.
“All I ever ask from the team is that we run for the people of Mansfield and we run for each other, and we’ve had that tonight in abundance.
“I tried getting Macca [Alex MacDonald] on to give us a bit more calmness and to try and influence.
“They [Lincoln] keep coming at you, and that’s why they’re where they are in the league. That’s why they win so many games.
“I think you have to go 2-0 up against Lincoln to take that fight away [from them]. At 1-0, they always have the opportunity to win a football match. They got the better of us second-half.”
"All I ever ask from the team is that we run for the people of Mansfield and we run for each other, and we’ve had that tonight in abundance."
The manager added that restricting the league leaders to few chances and a penalty emphasises the positive performance from his players this evening.
“I’ll have to look at the penalty again. I don’t see how Conrad can change the course of his run. I think he tries sweeping up, the ball gets put between his legs and there’s a collision of two players.
“Lincoln coming here and only scoring a penalty just shows you how well we’ve done tonight.
“First-half, when we’re on top, that’s the opportunity missed for me in terms of us really dominating the game.
“The players were up for it and it was a real committed performance. What we’ve seen today is the honesty on show in League Two.
“There were 20 minutes where we just didn’t have that calm aura about us, and Lincoln do that to you.
“I’m absolutely gutted that we’ve not won tonight. I think our owners probably deserved the win tonight, seeing the stadium full.
“Our support was phenomenal, and I’m gutted for them [fans].”
David Flitcroft also expressed his delight at the return of defenders Matt Preston and Ryan Sweeney, while also praising the performance of wing-back Gethin Jones.
“I’ve not really gone on about the injuries too much this season. It’s a part of football and you have to get on with it, but we’ve got some big players [missing].
“When the [back] three are together, they’re brilliant. They look after each other. Hayden White has been a big miss, but I thought that was Gethin’s [Jones] best performance tonight.
“He wanted it and was on the front foot, and it was good to see.”
Following tonight’s draw, the Mansfield boss says his players are ‘ready’ for the final eight games of the season.
“There’s so much football [left] to play. There’s a closeness between the players and they love spending time with each other.
“That was a spirited performance tonight and it’s given us unbelievable hope for the next eight games.
“We’re up there by merit, and three points would have been phenomenal. We’re back in the top three and we’re now ready for that [final] charge.
“The whole town has come out to support us and our owners, who have been brilliant for this town and this football club.
“It was a proper night of football under the lights and I enjoyed it. Our players didn’t freeze on the night.
“I’ve probably said it too many times about the [players’] connection with the supporters, but it’s important.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later tonight.