Clear-the-air meeting sparks big improvement for Mansfield Town at Crawley

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Crawley Town v Mansfield Town; 12/3/2019  KO 19.45; The People's Pension Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Mansfield boss David Flitcroft and his assistant Ben Futcher watch on during the early stages at Crawley
Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Crawley Town v Mansfield Town; 12/3/2019 KO 19.45; The People's Pension Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Mansfield boss David Flitcroft and his assistant Ben Futcher watch on during the early stages at Crawley

Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft said a clear-the-air meeting on Sunday after three poor away defeats had the desired effect in tonight’s much-improved 0-0 draw at Crawley Town.

“It was a marked improvement,” he said. “The commitment was there. The fight was there. They worked for each other.

“We had all the players in on Sunday for a real heart to heart– all the injured players – the whole squad.

“We told them the away performances at Notts and Port Vale were unacceptable for a Mansfield Town team. We had to stop the rot.

READ THE MATCH REPORT

“A lot of words were said and tonight the lads have come out and ‘actioned’ those words.”

Flitcroft was forced to 4-3-3 tonight with centre halves Matt Preston and Ryan Sweeney ruled out.

“We had to go to a back four as that was the only personnel we had,” he said.

“We were missing players who have been the bedrock of our defence this season.

“But Ben Turner came in tonight after a difficult start to his Mansfield career and committed to every single action and every single moment. I think that inspired some of the players.

“The back four look solid and the work in front of them was relentless.”

He added: “Crawley are an unpredictable team, and have some really good players offensively. They are a threat in that last third, yet we nullified them to very few chances.

“But we have go to be more ruthless and cutting for three points. But tonight we have to respect a point – any point is good.

“With some of our quality to get in and how we carved them up tonight was excellent. Maybe Tyler Walker was a bit rusty but he could have had two goals. We had gilt-edged chances.

“But credit to Crawley. They put their bodies on the line tonight and threw themselves in front of everything.

“It was two good teams both wanting to win a football match.”

“I think we had characters down the spine of our team tonight – and you need that away at Crawley. I went for experience tonight.

“With the massive turn-outs of fans we had at Notts and Port Vale, our performances hurt me badly. But tonight we were back to normal and the point is a step in the right direction.”