Stags’ boss David Flitcroft says he is expecting ‘one hell of a performance’ from his players in Tuesday night’s clash against Crawley Town, following this afternoon’s disappointing 2-1 defeat at Port Vale.
Former Mansfield forward Ricky Miller fired home twice in quick succession in the second-half at Vale Park, before Stags’ striker Nicky Ajose headed home to spark a potential comeback for the amber and blue.
Port Vale held on to their one-goal advantage, however, and the Mansfield boss subsequently revealed that changes could be made ahead of Tuesday evening’s trip to Crawley.
“There are questions I’m going to pitch to the players tomorrow,” he said. “We need to get the balance right.
“We have to look at that to come up with the solution and go down to Crawley and give one hell of a performance.
“I’ll be picking a group of players that want to do that. If I’m a supporter today, I’m disappointed and I go home unhappy – and I get that. Times that by ten, and that’s how I’m feeling right now.
“Come Sunday we’ll all know who is going to move forward with us away from home and who’s not.
“We were poor against Newport and really poor against Notts. We weren’t brave enough today. That’s a trend for me and something I won’t ignore.
“We’ve had a really good week of training, but it doesn’t matter having a good training week, it’s about your business being at three o’clock [on a Saturday].
“I had nothing in the week to tell me that today’s performance would be like this, but it has been, and I have to affect that change.
“I’m going to speak to the players individually. I’ll tell them not to become choked by it [promotion push], but to go and embrace it.
"We have to look at that to come up with the solution and go down to Crawley and give one hell of a performance."
“We’ll be having that chat tomorrow as they know how important it is to myself and to the club. We just have to make sure we find those solutions that we’ve not been able to find in the last three games away from home.”
The Mansfield chief says that a poor start from his charges this afternoon gave the hosts a ‘lift,’ which he believes was key to how the contest ended.
“I felt we started poorly and that gave them a lift. We needed to make high impact decisions and have quality in our work.
“We’ve been undone and Port Vale deservedly won the match today. When you’re in possession of the football, you have to be responsible for it.
“But when you’re not in possession, you need to be tracking, blocking a cross or winning that hustle. We didn’t get that right today and that’s a trend for us away from home.
“I have to do something about that. The team selection for the next game will be a team who want to do the things right off the ball as well as on it.”
Despite finding the net in the second-half, Ajose was denied from the penalty spot in the opening 45 minutes, following a strong save from Vale ‘keeper Scott Brown.
The manager expressed his belief that the missed opportunity was not decisive, due to the way his players were performing prior to the foul on CJ Hamilton in the area.
“I don’t think so [penalty miss was decisive]. I don’t think we were playing well enough. You could argue it’s a different contest if it goes in, but it didn’t.
“When you’re in form, you’ll make chances. After that [penalty] we had corner after corner and kept them penned in.
“But that was only for a small period of the game and we let them out too easily. We didn’t apply enough pressure. On the ball, it’s possibly the worst we’ve been all season.
“There were good players making really bad execution, and it happened too often today.
“I felt once Nicky’s goal did go in, we’d claw something back. But Port Vale dug in and stood firm for the three points.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that we’ve not backed each other up better today.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.