Darren Sarll delighted with grit shown by struggling Stevenage

Mansfield's Rhys Bennett battles with Stevenage's Henry Cowans

Mansfield's Rhys Bennett battles with Stevenage's Henry Cowans

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Stevenage boss Darren Sarll was delighted to see his struggling side show the grit they had been missing in yesterday’s 2-1 win at Mansfield Town.

The victory ended the Stags’ unbeaten run at six games and Sarll said: “In terms of a spectacle it was an horrendous game of football to watch.

“The squad had faced criticism of whether they had the real grit and of Stevenage teams of old. Today they answered that question, their backs were to the wall and they died for each other.”

On the first goal, he said: “We know Charlie (Lee) is capable of doing that every week.

“We know his prowess in those situations.”

But the winner was a memorable solo effort on the break by speedy Villa loanee Harry McKirdy on his full debut and Sarll said: “It was pleasing for everyone to see what little Harry McKirdy can do.

“He has always got that moment of individual quality in him. It was a lovely ball by (Ben) Kennedy for him.

“They are such a mischievous pair. Kennedy made the first goal from the free kick too.

“We needed a moment of real individual quality at that stage in the game after they had got back to 1-1.

“It was a terrific finish. The temperament of the lad to go through on his debut and finish like that. It was top drawer and he is going to be a good player.

“After seeing him wheel away it was just disappointing that there was still so much time left.”

Sarll added: “When you are under such an aerial and territorial threat sometimes it is a relief to get up the pitch, but we managed that quite poorly. But we can teach the players that.

“I was impressed by the chance we had today to give the younger players an education – to come here and face a type of strategy, environment and atmosphere that they create at Mansfield.

“Two wins in three is a good return. We played good football to win well at Morecambe (two weeks ago), we played well with no luck last Saturday and then today we were organised, solid and resilient.

“We are brave at this club and give young players a game.

“For them to have that opportunity to develop that side of their game where they have to dig deep and put their bodies in the way was good.

“I was really pleased. It was a good day’s work.”