Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft was delighted with his players as they got vital minutes under their belts while coming from behind to win 2-1 at Lincoln City in tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy group opener.
Goals by Tyler Walker and man of the match Calum Butcher turned the game around for a side showing seven changes after former Stags star Matt Rhead had put the Imps ahead.
“I was delighted with the lads,” smiled Flitcroft.
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“It doesn’t matter what the competition is or what day of the week it is, you are striving to improve. It’s important you try to breed winning as part of what you do.
“Tonight was another winning opportunity and it was a good night’s work.
“It was a committed performance from both teams.
“As soon as we knew Rhead was playing we knew what Lincoln were going to do. They throw it up there and make it difficult at set pieces.
“All credit to Lincoln for a crowd of over 4,000 in this competition, that’s probably the strongest I’ve seen. At least there was an atmosphere to it.”
With no game this weekend, Flitcroft said careful thought went into his starting XI.
“It was really important,” he said. “We looked at the game time, working back from losing the three lads for international duty, and understood who we needed to give game time to.
“I thought Matty Preston needed that second game. Also, Whitey (Hayden White) came through after the hamstring problem he had which was a real positive.
“Atko (Will Atkinson) has got another game under his belt at wing back and his game minutes are really good.
“It gave me another opportunity to put Mal (Benning) in and play Gibbo (Lewis Gibbens) as well.
“We got game time into a lot of players and that’s important going into a weekend with no fixture.
“Over the next 10 days we have to make sure we are fully loaded in terms of minutes, data and stats as we have a really heavy period after the international break.
“Then October is a monster of a month with seven big games.”
Butcher scored one and made the other and the manager added: “From what happened last season when he didn’t feel wanted or part of this football club, Calum just wanted to go back home and find solace in his family.
“Now he loves the environment and he has given everything since I have been manager.
“His running power is good and his end product was good tonight as well. I am delighted for him.”
He was also pleased with the debut of Derby loanee Timi Elnik.
“This is a good squad to come into and they have not only welcomed him, they have seen his quality on the training pitch which gains you respect,” said Flitcroft.
“He retains the ball and he’s looking to try to probe.
“I am going to enjoy watching him play with Otis Khan when I can get that partnership up and running – I have brought him into find Otis in that pocket where he plays.
“I was delighted with his performance. He has had a tough time the last six weeks. He wants to try to impress Derby and impress Frank (Lampard) and he’s now found himself here.
“Now he has a real chance to kick on and find his personality, get games under his belt and be part of something.”