SEETHING Stags boss Paul Cox has vowed to ship some of his players out of the club and bring in others prepared to do the ‘ugly side’ of the game after Tuesday night’s 3-0 surrender at Gateshead.
Cox accused his side of having a ‘soft underbelly’ and accepted full responsibility for the defeat, but said he felt let down by some of his players.
Cox is going to watch a centre half today (Wednesday) and intends to bring in a centre half with presence, a midfielder prepared to do the ‘ugly side of the game’ and a centre forward who put himself about and lets defenders know they’ve been in a game.
“I am absolutely fuming,” he said after a dressing room lock-in at the International Stadium where, after a bright first half-hour with a 4-3-3 formation, his side let in two quick goals and heads dropped as they failed to ever look like making a fightback.
“Tonight we lacked desire levels, commitment and all the things I expect of a side. I don’t think we showed much resilience to get back into the game.
“We seem to have a soft underbelly. I know we could have scored a goal or two early on. But there is something wrong with us and I have got to act on it quickly. I am not putting up with that. One or two seem in a comfort zone.
“I had problems at Eastwood early last season and know I should have nipped it in the bud earlier than I did.
“My mind is now made up about moving one or two players on and bringing in one or two fresh faces with a bit of steel about them.
“We were quite pretty to watch and easy on the eye tonight but lacked any real substance or end product and that can’t be allowed to happen.
“I am at the top of my budge so I need to wheel and deal pretty quickly. I want to bring in players with a bit of bite who are prepared to roll their sleeves up away from home.
“The side we had out there should have been capable of coming away with a clean sheet tonight. I was disappointed with all three goals and our lack of application.
“If I don’t get to grips with this really quickly then it’s going to be a long old season. We don’t look capable of grinding out results.”
He added: “I have to put my name to that tonight and I have to take it on the chin. The buck stops with me tonight as I picked that side, but I will now make decisions to put that right. The warning signs were there tonight.
“If my sides lose then they lose well and the opposition know they have been in a game. But I don’t think Gateshead broke sweat tonight.
“Crawley won this league with a £2m budget last year with a side that knew how to win ugly and who were ruthless and horrible at times.
“I may also have to bring in one or two ‘ugly’ players and I hope people will be patient with that. My sixth sense is telling me something is missing.
“I felt sorry for the fans who travelled four hours to be up here tonight. One thing I promised supporters was a team with good ethics. Instead tonight I saw a team, if I’m honest, just roll over and die.
“I am going to watch a centre half tomorrow who I may be able to bring in on loan for nothing or very little and who has been at the back of my mind for a while now.”
On Tom Naylor’s late red card, he said: “I didn’t think it was a bad challenge but the referee said he had leapt into it and it’s his decision.”
Home boss Ian Bogie said: “It wasn’t until we scored the two goals that we got going.
“But goals change games. If the second goal had been scored in the Premiership you would see it every night of the week – it was a fantastic goal.
“We kicked on then and we kept the ball much better in the second half. We scored a third from a centre half for change and ended up running out comfortable winners.
“It was a good team performance and a good win.
“We will enjoy being top of the table as it’s not very often you see Gateshead at the top of the league. But no one is getting carried away as it’s only the second game and we know it’s going to be a long, hard season.”
Full match report in day’s Chad.