Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox says he has learnt a lot about his players after tonight’s 3-1 friendly defeat against Aston Villa.
Two late goals from Gary Gardner and Darren Bent secured the win for the Premier League side in a result which was hard on battling Mansfield.
Stags had led at the break through Alex Fisher’s 41st minute header following an impressive high-tempo display which caused Villa problems.
Villa, who fielded a totally different side after the break, levelled through Darren Bent on 61 minutes before they took a firm grip on the game as their superior quality and fitness levels shone through at the death.
But Cox refused to be downbeat at the defeat, saying: “We wanted a competitive game and that is what we got, so thanks to Paul Lambert for fielding such a strong team.
“I wanted to see what my players are like when they are put under pressure and that is what happened today.
“I have learned a lot about my players and how they cope under pressure and this was an excellent workout.
“There are areas where we can improve upon when we are under pressure and that is what we will do, so far we are having a good pre-season.”
And Cox, who fielded seven trialists during the game including an unnamed goalkeeper, also believes there are many positives to be taken from the defeat.
“It is never nice to lose a game, but there were a lot of positives to take from the match,” he said. “I thought we looked strong in the first half and caused a good Villa side problems.
“We looked very good for 65 minutes and had a good shape. We also ended the game with a 17 year-old and an 18 year-old, which is great news and great experience for them.
“The younger players will have learned an awful lot from this match. We have plenty of players to come back and could have Murray, Clements, Hearn, Tafazolli and Jones all back for the Leeds game so things are looking positive right now.”
Mansfield may be without the influential Sam Clucas and Fergus Bell after both players were substituted after picking up knocks.
Added Cox: “We do not know the full extent of Clucas and Bell’s injuries, we will have to wait and see but hopefully it is not too bad.”
Mansfield face Birmingham City at One Call Stadium on Saturday before Leeds United come to town on Tuesday night.