Boss Nigel Clough says ‘ruthlessness’ was the difference between the sides in today’s 3-0 defeat to league leaders Cambridge United.
After a well-contested first-half at One Call Stadium, three goals in the second period subjected the Stags to defeat against Mark Bonner’s table-topping U’s.
The Mansfield manager expressed his belief that the 3-0 scoreline was ‘harsh’ on his side.
“I thought it was a bit harsh [on us] losing 3-0 – I didn’t think the scoreline reflected the nature of the game,” he told iFollow Stags.
“I think it reflected why Cambridge are where they are in the league, because there can be nothing in a game but all of a sudden they come out 3-0 winners.
“It caught up with us physically after the effort we put it against Bolton. I thought they [Cambridge] showed that absolute ruthless streak that they have, and we didn’t today.
“I thought the goals knocked the stuffing out of us. We talked about it being a good measure for us, and there wasn’t much between the two teams. I thought it was a very good League Two game.
“There were two teams trying to knock it about on a difficult surface, and we know we’re not too far off the standards that Cambridge are setting.
“All game we got into good areas, right up until injury time. We couldn’t produce that final cross – there’s not a lot dropping for us at the moment, but that will change.
“We have to do more to keep the ball out of our net and to get a goal as well.”
Two players who have emerged through the Stags’ youth system – Jason Law and Tyrese Sinclair – were introduced by Nigel Clough in the second-half. The boss explained his decision to introduce the two youngsters, adding: “There was a knock-on effect from Wednesday night [with Stephen Quinn] – he was touch-and-go whether he was going to play today.
“We’ve been wanting to get Jason Law on the pitch for the last few weeks. He’s done ever so well in training and he’s in with a shout of starting.
“You could see, even on the difficult surface, he can handle the ball. Technically, he’s a good player. It’s an ideal opportunity between now and the end of the season to get him, Tyrese and maybe one or two others some games.
“It’s just about getting them on at the right time. Ideally, you don’t want to be putting them on when you’re losing against top of the league, but [we said] ‘let’s see what you’ve got,’ as it was a difficult situation for them.”
There was also an injury update from the boss ahead of Tuesday’s game at Harrogate.
“It’s just a dead leg with Ollie Clarke – he’s strong as an ox so he should be okay. I think Stephen Quinn feels them a little more than Ollie Clarke does with the difference of the build.
“We’ll see how he [Quinn] is on Monday. I’m really looking forward to it [Harrogate game], despite the defeats this week.
“I think the performances haven’t been that bad, so hopefully we’ll get a break on Tuesday night.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.