Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray was left rueing a string of missed chances as Mansfield Town got nothing from their brave display in the 1-0 defeat at Luton Town today.
Salt was rubbed into the wounds of this setback with Chris Clements limping off with a groin strain and Nicky Hunt shown a fifth yellow card, both players now set to miss next weekend’s visit of Plymouth Argyle.
“You can’t come away to a place like Luton and miss three one-on-ones – that’s the bottom line,” said Murray after Stags capitulated to a 59th minute Craig Mackail-Smith penalty.
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“We limited their chances. First half they came out and had a lot of the ball. They were under pressure to get a win. So we knew they would start at a tempo and weathered that and managed that well.
“We had a chance in the first half we should have scored and then in the second half I thought we dominated the game, but gave away a stupid penalty.
“No arguments about that, we got ourselves into a muddle at the back. To be fair to Mackail-Smith it was super movement and that was the difference today.
“It was fine lines today, but we were not ruthless enough in the final third. It is disappointing as we should have got something out of today.”
Murray added: “It was about belief. We said before the game we are good enough now to come to places like this and get something out of it and we showed that today.
“But first half we looked like we were in fear and we had no reason to be. We knew we were going to have to tame them for 45 minutes. But we looked like we were panicking and putting ourselves under pressure.
“At half-time I said you have to believe how good you are and we can go on and get something here.
“I’d like to see the possession stats for the second half and attempts on goal second half as we can’t have that much territory, possession and balls into the final third advantage and not take something from it.
“You have to put 90 per cent of them away when you go through one on one. We had some great chances today and some of the balls we fizzed across the box, you have got to get on the end of them.
“I am disappointed today but there is a realism that we are making massive strides forward.
“We have come here to one of the team that will be in the play-offs or top three at the end of the season and we should have got something out of the game
“Their players were coming up to us and saying we should have got something.
“The group is still positive as we know how good we are.
“This was always going to be the tough part of our season, if we got injuries or suspensions.”
With a small squad, Stags are now down to the bare bones for next week.
“We will miss Nicky next week and it looks like Clem will be out,” said Murray. “We will be down to about 16 or 17 players. It’s tough but we knew that was going to be the case.
“But we are positive where we are as a group at the minute and the direction we are going in.”