Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft spoke of his glowing pride of his players and Stags’ army of supporters as they bravely bowed out of the Carabao Cup with a narrow 2-1 defeat at Championship outfit West Brom tonight.
A spectacular 30-yard strike from Neal Bishop wiped out Albion’s interval lead only to see Kyle Edwards restore the Baggies’ advantage.
With huge vocal backing from the away fans, Stags threw everything at the home side, Danny Rose hitting a post and West Brom riding their luck as they clung on for victory.
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Flitcroft said: “I was proud of the players and proud of the club with the way we’ve represented each other tonight – the supporters and the way they’ve sung tonight. They were outstanding.
“They out-sung West Brom for large parts of this game and the ovation at the end probably tells you what a committed performance it was.
“We had some glorious moments to go and win the game. It wasn’t blood and thunder – it was calculated and it was executed well.
“There was a lot of quality on show from both teams and we went toe to toe on the quality levels.
“How we’ve not scored three or four tonight is beyond me, but you get those games. We are creating chances and going out to win games, taking a risk every single game, and we’ve come unstuck tonight.”
He added: “We got it back to 1-1 and we just kept going, trying to find a way to win a game. But we’ve not been able to pull it off.
“I desperately wanted to for the owners to get in that next round, but I’ve not achieved that. I am gutted for them and our supporters. It kills me not to be in the next round.
“But the team displayed the characteristics I want them to display tonight and I’ve said to them afterwards that Macclesfield was about mindset if we can play like that tonight. It makes Saturday all the more disappointing.”
On Bishop’s strike, he said: “The kid is a goal machine, that’s what I brought him in for.
“It was a fantastic strike and summed his performance up. He was focused. “He gets better with age and comes to these places and wants to make a memory.”
Sub Rose then struck a post near the end, Flitcroft saying: “He caught it right and when luck is on your side that hits the first post and then hits the second and it goes in. When it doesn’t you wonder if it’s your night.”
The manager also had high praise for keeper Bobby Olejnik, who made some excellent saves and, going up for a late corner, almost grabbed an unlikely equaliser.
“He has waited patiently for his chance and been unbelievably professional and kept himself in immaculate nick,” said Flitcroft.
“He’s taken his chance and I thought his performance was outstanding. He might even get a chance up front on Saturday!”