Stags boss gutted for fans after last gasp Trophy final defeat

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STAGS boss Duncan Russell wants to get his future sorted out quickly after Saturday’s FA Trophy final defeat at Wembley.

Stags were beaten by a last gasp extra-time goal by Darlington, but Russell, whose contract is now over, is hoping he will be given a new deal.

He said: “I will probably find out on Monday though I will have a chat with the chairman tonight.

“I believe he has gone on record as saying they will give me another year and I hope he does as I think I have a lot to offer the football club.

“I have players lined-up I want to bring in of a very good calibre so we can make a true challenge to get this club into Division Two.”

On the defeat, he said: “I am absolutely gutted for my players and for the supporters of Mansfield Town.

“I feel for them. It’s been a long time since they were here and I hope in their loss they have still had something to remember the day by. I hope they had a great day out at our national stadium and it won’t be too long before they come back.

“I thought we certainly deserved something out of the game and that was a penalty shoot-out.

“The way we went about the game I thought they deserved that 50-50 chance of winning the Trophy.

“I have to be careful what I say but I think the referee should have given us a couple of penalties. I saw them again on the screen and they looked like penalties and both players said they were bowled over.

“Sometimes at places like Wembley referees have to be brave and have courage. I don’t the referee showed that in those two incidents.

“It is not sour grapes as I wish ‘Coops’ (Darlington boss Mark Cooper) all the best. But before they got the throw-in from which the goal came, my full back was having his shirt tugged. I was screaming at the officials.

“Football is a cruel game and you have to learn through loss as well as victory. My lads will remember this day for a long time though I don’t know how fondly.

“Someone has to be the bridesmaid on the day and today that is us.

“There were a lot of nerves and it was very warm out there. I think the lads lost a lot of weight.

“Near the end it was to and fro and who would be the one to open up the other team. We just tried to keep our shape.”

He added: “I sent Ashley Cain on and I really thought he was going to nick the winner with his pace. He should have had a penalty.

“And if Paul Connor had been half a foot nearer the ball at the far post from Ashley’s cross I feel he would have put the ball in the net.

“Set pieces have been the bane of our season and we now have to regroup and learn from it.”

With so many players unavailable, Paul Connor was forced to play, despite a calf strain that needed three injections to get him through.

“I had to play Paul Connor from the start as if I had started Danny Mitchley and he had gone off injured, I might have sent Paul on and he could have broken down inside five minutes and it been bad management,” said Russell.

“We could have ended up with 10 men. I had to do the best I could with the resources we had.”

Luke Medley and Mark Preece had to sit it out under FA rules as they were out on loan when the semi-finals were played and Russell said: “Why do the FA have these silly rules? I can’t understand it.

“Luke Medley had played in the cup before, went out on loan and then came back but can’t play so I don’t know where the sense is in that.”