Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray believes reaching the League Two play-offs will be a “very tough” task for his squad after defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.
Michael Harriman’s 68th-minute goal was all that separated the Stags and Wycombe, who now occupy seventh spot in the table on Good Friday evening, with Murray’s men in 14th.
Mansfield are eight points adrift of the play-offs with eight games of the season remaining, starting with the visit of runaway leaders Northampton Town on Bank Holiday Monday.
When asked what the defeat means for his side’s chances of making the play-offs, Murray said: “It makes it very, very tough.
“I’m not going to say it’s over because you’ve seen some of the results today - anything can happen. A run of three or four wins and everything can change, so it’s not over.
“It makes it very, very tough for us. The biggest thing now for this group is picking them up, getting a bit of confidence in them, because the last few results has put their confidence down.
“It makes it tougher. We knew this bunch of games was going to be the toughest of our season and it’s showed that. I think it shows that we’re not ready for that next level yet.”
He added: “We’ve shown over the season that there’s a good spirit in the group and that they will give everything. When you are a player and a team that like to get on the ball you need confidence to play like that.”
Reflecting on the narrow loss to Wycombe, Murray stated his side were beaten by a better team.
“They showed why they’ve been up there for the last two years for a reason,” he said.
“They’re very effective in what they do and we’re not quite there yet. They have shown why they’re up there competing and why they’ll, I’ll imagine, have another visit to Wembley this year.
“They were effective in their style. They made us defend. It’s a very tough place to come. They’re home form is very good. They’re obviously full of confidence. They’ve learned how to win.
“They use every trick in the book to win and fair play to them. Sometimes it’s not pretty but it puts points on the board. We didn’t have enough men out there to stand up to that today.
“We got overawed at times and it’s all part of our stepping stones.”
And added: “I never felt there was anything in the game. We said before the game, it would be a game that whoever made the least mistakes would win it. We felt we could put them under pressure but at the same time we knew we’d have to defend here.
“It’s a tough place to come and they made us defend. For the goal to come how it did it shouldn’t happen. Unfortunately for us those type of goals have been consistent all through the season.
“You look at how many 1-0 losses, no-one’s ever really opened us up. No-one’s ever smashed us. It’s errors, individual mistakes or bad decision making - that’s even more frustrating to take than saying we came up against a team today that opened us up constantly, because they didn’t. We looked very solid and it’s a poor goal to concede.”
He added: “I don’t think we made enough of the opportunities we had because of the game plan Wycombe set out to put on us. You have to try and get hold of the football because it spends a lot of the time going into our box.”