Mansfield Town made no mistake in seeing off their struggling local rivals Notts County 2-0 this afternoon – but boss David Flitcroft said the victory was never a forgone conclusion.
Notts are in a relegation dogfight and this was Neil Ardley's first League Two game in charge as their third boss of the season already.
But two CJ Hamilton goals sealed what was a comfortable win in the end as Stags leapt into the top three for the first time. REPORT HERE
“You could argue looking at the table today that it was going to be a forgone conclusion,” said Flitcroft.
“But these things are never foregone conclusions. Things happen in derbies all the time.
“Neil Ardley, a great football man, has come in and you always get a big lift from that. But that lift didn't turn into enough to give us any real problems.
“We focused in training on being brave and not getting sucked into any background noise.
“The bravery of the back three and the keeper to play the ball out under pressure gave us the foundation to go on and win the game.
“We hurt them and once they started conceding space to us we have got a lot of the pitch to go and attack you in.
“The lads were brilliant and all credit to them as they've put the work in this week.”
Stags' biggest crowd of the season - 6,604 – created an electric atmosphere and Flitcroft said: “This place was rocking today. You could feel that energy and it was electric. Our brand of football is connecting with supporters.
“The supporters are connecting with the players. It's important those players energise the supporters.”
He added: “That might possibly have been the most significant win of my tenure in the eight months I have had here.
“A game is a game but what satisfies me is watching people get better – players and staff.
“I was disappointed by Tuesday night, so it was a response to that. We worked on it in training.
“It's all very well doing it Monday to Friday but the real test is doing it in a game and they have done, so I am buzzing.”
He said the dressing room atmosphere post-match was fantastic.
“They are all singing the CJ Hamilton song. It is wild in there, KP (Krystian Pearce) is being thrown about,” he smiled.
“It's brilliant – you want to see that camaraderie and that togetherness. The lads are rocking right now.”
The only sour note was seeing midfield ace Neil Bishop go off near the end holding his shoulder after a challenge.
“I was just happy it wasn't concussion or anything more sinister,” said Flitcroft.
“I don't know if it's his collarbone, we will have to wait and see.
“It's their Christmas do tonight so he will have to drink with his other arm. That's probably his biggest problem at the minute.
“We will get it checked out and make sure he is safe and well and settled.”