Mansfield Town boss John Dempster was delighted to see interval sub Andy Cook bag two crucial goals to earn below-par Stags a superb 2-2 draw at Forest Green Rovers today.
Trailing 2-0, Stags were hauled level by the first two goals of Cook’s Mansfield career after a difficult start to the season.
“I am really pleased for Cooky as I am sure he’s been frustrated with the injury and lack of game time,” said Dempster.
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“It was fantastic for him to come on and perform like he did and all the players are in the changing room patting him on the back.
“It was a change that worked. I have made substitutions this season and some of them haven’t worked and some of them have.”
Dempster admitted his side had lacked quality today but was pleased with the character they showed in the fight back.
“After the hour we were disappointed. I think over the 90 minutes our quality was severely lacking – and the players hold their hands up for that,” he said.
“But good teams pick up points when they play poorly.
“Second half we were better and it was great for Cooky to come on and perform like he did and get the two goals.
“We did lack quality today but what fantastic character we showed to come back the way we did and it’s a good point on the road.
“Character is important in any team if you’re going to be successful and the players have shown that in abundance today.”
Stags had set their stall out to take the game to Rovers but found the high-flyers in fine form.
“We wanted to attack Forest Green and we played with Nicky (Maynard), CJ (Hamilton) and Otis (Khan) up there, but the way Forest Green played and passed the ball we ended up being pinned back and couldn’t get bodies up there.
“I thought they were a very good side, probably one of the best teams we’ve played so far this season. What Mark Cooper has built here is very impressive.
“When they lose the ball they work very hard to get it back which is what we found difficult in particular in the first hour.
“We can do better. It’s a good point and we’d have taken it after the first hour. Credit to the players – they showed real character and Cooky showed his quality.”
He added: “Conrad (Logan) had made a couple of good saves and the first goal took a deflection. He had a very good game which tells you that for large parts of the game Forest Green were in the ascendency.
“Having said that, we could have won it. Cooky’s had a snapshot on the edge of the box and their keeper has pulled off a good save and it’s just gone wide of the post. On reflection, though, it’s a point gained.”
Stags were without top scorer Danny Rose at Forest Green after a training injury which will see him out for up to six weeks.
“We got Danny out on the training field on Thursday, which was a massive positive as he had been feeling his groin,” he said.
“He was feeling really good and it was just one of those thing when we were doing a crossing and finishing drill.
“He went over on his ankle unopposed and it was quite a bad one. You could see he was in quite severe pain.
“We got him in for a scan and were hoping it would be two to three weeks but it looks like it will be four to six weeks.
“We are disappointed for him. It’s a blow as he is up there with the top scorers in the league, but it’s an opportunity for other people to step up as Cooky did today.”
Stags hope Alex MacDonald will train on Monday, having missed today with a hip problem, with hope he can be fit to face visiting Salford City on Tuesday.