Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray is hoping his players will start to believe in themselves after a second impressive away point in five days in today’s 1-1 draw at Crewe Alexandra.
The Stags also drew 1-1 at Accrington in midweek, but both times allowed a lead to slip and have not won in eight games.
“I think we need belief,” said Murray. “You look at what we’ve been doing, especially over this last week – this was us last season, this is how we rock and rolled last season, especially away from home.
“What we had last season was that little bit more belief that when we were on top we were putting teams to bed.
“Obviously with the run we went on without scoring a goal, it affects players – they are humans.
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“You saw it Tuesday, you’ve seen it again today, we score and you see the players physically kind of taking that step back as if to say ‘we’ve scored now, let’s hold on’ whereas we are trying to get them into the mindset of you’ve scored because you are a good team, go and finish these off now.
“That comes with confidence and belief. Unfortunately we can’t inject that into people. That’s a time thing. But putting in performances like today, that will come quickly.”
Murray said the lack of a win since August wasn’t a big problem.
“If we were playing bad and we looked a million miles off it, it would probably be an issue,” he said. “But we are three points off the play-offs and our performances are very high.
“It’s just about the rub of the green, and not getting it hit confidence. Now it’s just building that back up. As soon as the players start believing in their ability to affect this league I have no worries at all.
“It’s perspective isn’t it? You can look at it in two ways – we haven’t won since August, but we have only lost three in 11.
“I read an article about Keith Curle beating the Carlisle record as they’ve not lost in 10, but they drew seven of them. It depends what eye you are looking out of.”
Crewe have made a powerful start to the season, but Stags’ game plan to prevent the Railwaymen play their natural passing game worked a treat today.
“It is a very tricky place to come,” admitted Murray. “Apart from their result on Tuesday, they have been in a very good vein of form. I don’t think they’ve been beaten at home yet.
“So we knew it would be a tough one. I thought for large parts of the game, the game plan worked superbly.
“The history and the infrastructure of Crewe means they play a certain way – and they are very good at it. So we had to come and disturb that. We had to make it ugly. We had to make it scrappy. For the first 45 minutes we dominated by doing that.
“We got the goal and I think if we were a little more confident as a team and the players had a little bit more belief in themselves that they could go on and get another one, we should have put the game to bed in that first half.
“But they’ve had one opportunity and we got punished for it. Apart from a few low crosses, I don’t think Scott Shearer has had any saves to make.
“It is a really good point but a little bit frustrating that we’ve led at two tough places this week by a goal to nil and ended up drawing.
“But in the space of a week they are massive building blocks.”
With Murray going with an unchanged side, star striker Matt Green had to sit it out again as Pat Hoban and Danny Rose continued to forge the promising partnership they began on Tuesday.
“I think they’ve been superb. Their link-up play has been very good,” said Murray.
“The way they both play, especially Pat, they are territorial. So the time we are spending in the final third is now a lot longer. “Common sense tells you that if that happens you are going to get more opportunities. They are forming a little bond there and it’s good to see.
“The reaction of the other centre forwards has been top drawer and you saw Matt Green bounce on there again today, he did the same on Tuesday. They’re all fighting for places now.
“I think Matt understood it. He understood the decision on Tuesday. His attitude has been exactly what I expected from Matt Green – absolutely spot on.
“He is a leader in the group, someone people look up to, and his reaction has been superb. He has come on and looks hungry. So now the boys in there know they have got to go tooth and nail to keep the shirt.”
Murray added: “We are happy with the two points we’ve picked up on the road. “You look at the league now, we have a massive local derby where Notts are sitting in the play-offs and if we beat them we go above them next Saturday, and that’s how tight the league is. So we are content.”