Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink praised Mansfield Town after they pushed his Burton Albion side all the way in a 2-1 defeat.
Promotion-chasing Albion, who extended their unbeaten run to six, cruised in to a 2-0 half-time thanks to goals from Matty Palmer and Kelvin Maynard.
But struggling Mansfield, who gave starts to all five of their transfer window signings, showed more fight in the second half and pulled a goal back through Reggie Lambe as they made the Brewers work hard for the three points.
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A delighted Hasselbaink said: “It was not a classic, but not every game through the season is going to be easy and beautiful.
“There are times when you have to dig in as a team and grind results out. Mansfield came here with a game plan and they tested us.
“Mansfield played five new players who were out there to impress, and that is what they did.
“They tested us im ways that Shrewsbury did not last week and they will cause teams problems if they continue to play like that.
“There are times when I wish we played more football and killed games off to ease the pressure, but I am not going to criticise my players for that.
“We started to make more mistakes in the second half and give them more chances and Mansfield’s goal gave them more belief and energy.
“I thought we looked strong and a good solid unit in the last 15 minutes. We can play better than that, but I am happy with the three points.”
Mansfield had started to the game well and it could have been a very different affair had Lambe fired home inside the first minute when he was put through on goal.
But that good start faded and Burton took control of the game with two first half goals, leaving Mansfield with too much to do in the second half.
The result leaves Mansfield sitting four points from safety in what is now developing in to a relegation scrap.