David Flitcroft said his players were ‘floored’ after conceding so late in this afternoon’s 1-1 home draw with Colchester United and missing out on ending the day top of the table.
A 95th minute long throw was touched home by Sammie Szmodics after Craig Davies had seemingly won it with his 81st minute blockbuster shot.
“It cut right through the heart when you look at our dominance in the game and the way Colchester sat off,” said Flitcroft.
“We patiently broke them down – too patiently in the first half.
“In the second half we forced issues and were more purposeful.
“I told them after the game whether it’s five or seven minutes that goes up at the end of a game – embrace that time. It is an opportunity to embrace. You’re 1-0 up and you have something to hang onto and protect.
“That’s the spirit I want to foster. But we let it slip.
“Locking a game down is a key aspect of any outstanding team.”
He continued: “Clean sheets are the holy grail and that’s what you win titles with. But today we have not protected Craig Davies’ wonder goal that should have earned three points.
“It was a moment that should have inspired the players to go on and win.
“You have to respect that going 1-0 up is absolutely king.
“We went for the jugular by putting our three strikers on – those three will cause problems for any team.
“But we haven’t defended out box well enough and a long throw has almost gone straight in. It’s cost us three well-earned points and we would have been top of the league.”
Stags now turn their attentions to Tranmere away on Tuesday and the manager said: “The players are floored at the moment, but maybe that’s not a bad thing as it makes sure they understand the importance of getting those moments right.
“Colchester are a good side. They have invested well in good players and will be up there.”