Mansfield Town’s players had their first proper taste of rookie boss John Dempster’s management style on the opening day at Newport County and were impressed.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time, some players may have expected a ‘hairdryer’ verbal assault.
But, on his Football League managerial debut, Dempster was calm, collected and precise, making his points and changing personnel and formation, which paid off with a 2-2 draw in a game they could easily have ended up winning.
“With my own performance and that of the lads I was braced for a rollocking,” said veteran midfielder Neal Bisop.
“But he was quite considered and I think he found the right tone with the boys.
“It would have been easy to come in and start throwing stuff around as we were way below par.
“But as a group of players we were aware of that before the manager even walked in and we’d had words between ourselves.
“Some harsh words were probably said. But we are an honest group and we knew that wasn’t good enough.
“Then the manager came in and set up a game plan for the second half which worked to a tee and I am sure we could have gone on to win it.
“We’ve all been together over a year now so we are quite comfortable to tell each other a few home truths.”
Bishop continued: “We spoke in the dressing room and the gaffer emphasised the next goal was crucial. It probably wins them the game but, if we get it and get it early, we’re right back in this game – and so it proved.
“They say you’re at your weakest when you’ve just conceded a goal and we scored our second goal straight away. There was no doubt in my mind then that we were going on to win that game.
“Circumstances unfortunately denied us that opportunity. But if you’d offered us a point at half-time we’d have probably taken it.”
Dempster said: “I think it’s important you compose yourself at half-time as a staff and communicate with one another to make sure the messages are consistent when you go in there.
“When I walked in at half-time with Lee Glover it was good to see the players discussing things.
“It wasn’t all guns blazing and people blaming each other. It was more what can we do better?
“We’ve got ourselves in a bit of a pickle. How can we get out of it?
“Together with the players and staff we put a game plan together and it was executed brilliantly to the point where we nearly went into the lead.
“I think if we had done we’d have held on. But it was typical football.
“It always throws up some interesting things and within five or 10 minutes we missed a penalty, had a man sent off and had our backs against the wall.
“The players reacted well. We rode our luck at times near the end to hold on to that point but I think it was deserved.”