STAGS manager Duncan Russell was furious to see his side give up two goals against the run of play to gift York City a 2-1 win and see their eight-game unbeaten run ended at Bootham Crescent last night.
Stags led 1-0 and looked comfy until Steve Foster’s 59th minute error gifted Jamie Reed the first of his 11-minute brace.
Russell, who rested six of his players ahead of Saturday’s FA Trophy showdown at Luton Town, said: “The players have got to sit and look at themselves and ask if we lost that one or gave it away?
“I don’t mind losing a game that the opposition have deserved to win. You hold your hands up. But I don’t think York deserved to win that. They had a lucky night.
“I was disappointed not to get a point tonight as I thought we deserved at least that.
“The first goal we gave away totally changed the game. Steve Foster has held his hands up in the dressing room in front of the players. He said he slipped and couldn’t help it.
“I was annoyed to see us gifting goals. We don’t want to go back to that as we had stopped doing that.
“For their second goal, when you have a one against one between a winger and a full back, the full back has to show him down the line, not let him inside. They were two sloppy goals.
“We missed two great chances too when Ashley Cain only had the keeper to beat but shot against his legs and when Adam Smith put the ball into the keeper’s hands.”
Stags’ scorer was young defender Tom Naylor with his first goal for the club and Russell added: “I was pleased for Tom. He is good in the air and I always thought he could get a goal from a set piece.
“I was happy with Niall O’Rafferty’s debut though he was a bit nervous and fatigued a bit early. Also Danny Spence showed he can play right back as well as left back. So I was pleased with certain areas.”
Although Stags have five games in hand on some sides, they are now 16 points adrift of the play-offs and Russell said: “The play-offs are a big ask now. If we had kept on and got at least a point tonight who knows. But we have only lost four in 20 which is not a bad statistic.
“We will keep fighting for every point and try to finish as high as we possible can in the table.
“Now we will rally the team ready for Luton on Saturday. Regardless of where we finish in the table, to get to Wembley would be a massive feat and be great for this football club if we could do it.
“We have rested certain players tonight and we will go to Luton full of optimism.”
Russell will be speaking to Stoke City loanee Louis Moult today to see if his back injury has improved ahead of the weekend semi-final second leg when Stags defend their 1-0 advantage.
Luton tickets went on general sale at Field Mill this morning with just 450 of the 1,000 allocation remaining.