Murray optimistic as dogfight nears end for Stags

Adam Murray and the Stags bench.
Adam Murray and the Stags bench.
  • Murray vows to win promotion next year
  • Thomas tipped for Premier League future
  • Stags hoping Lady Luck returns

Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray vowed to keep the Stags up and then win promotion next season after today’s undeserved 2-1 defeat at play-off chasing Plymouth Argyle.

He also tipped teenage midfielder Jack Thomas for a Premier League future.

While Murray was furious to again see Stags undone by set pieces, he acknowledged his side’s ability shortcomings and the fact that it is this set of players that will have to achieve safety.

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Six points clear of the drop with four games to go, today’s defeat was a fifth in a row, but Murray said: “It was a game we should have won.

“But I said a few weeks ago that we are missing certain ingredients and it keeps telling.

“I am not one to hang people out. But people are given certain roles and today has been the story of our season with individual errors costing us.

A lot of those players are pushing themselves to their individual limits and I can’t ask any more from them

“We have conceded from two set pieces and there is no hiding place from it. At the other end we haven’t been clinical enough.

“It comes down to individual jobs. Conceding from set pieces has been a big part of our season. It’s the only time you have a one versus one battles as the ball is dead and there are no excuses.

“It’s why we are where we are, but I have to deal with what I have.

“A lot of those players are pushing themselves to their individual limits and I can’t ask any more from them.

“We knew we were good enough to dictate that game, but it’s putting the ball in the back of the net that is the hindrance at the minute. When we enter the final third of the field we are not making the most of it.

“I could go to town on certain things, but now is not the time. Certain things must be dusted under the carpet. We have got to stick together as we have some huge games coming up, starting Tuesday. I will put it right at the right time.”

Murray said his players should use teenage midfielder Jack Thomas as an inspiration, tipping him for a Premier League future after another sensational man of the match display.

“Look at Jack Thomas today. He inspires me,” said Murray.

“I said to the players, if any of you think you have made it, have a reality check and watch the DVD of today’s game and watch his performance.

“He should inspire the team as the kid is on another level. He will go on to play in the Premiership.

“His has everything and his biggest assets are his personality and character. He wants to win more than anything. He doesn’t understand ‘sit down and die’ or ‘lose’.

“My team will be built on people like that. I won’t carry cheats or con men.”

On the defeat, he added: “Plymouth had three shots on target and scored twice That’s the difference that puts them in the play-offs.

“In certain aspects we are as good as the play-off teams. If we had that ruthlessness in both boxes. We’d be up there.

“I’d like to say we were unlucky, but we had enough chances to win and should have. We had them on the back foot for 87 minutes. But we must move on swiftly.

“I’d like to thank the supporters, I thought they were brilliant the way they stayed on at the end to clap the boys off. They are not stupid. They know we need certain things and they understand.

“We now have three weeks and four games. The boys are really positive with our performances. If we were not getting into that final third I would be more worried.”

Murray is hoping Stags find some luck in the last four games as their luck was certainly out again at Plymouth with defender Ritchie Sutton hurting his hip in the pre-match warm-up and unable to play.

“I am praying that for the last four games Lady Luck switches for us again,” he said. “We had Ritchie Sutton go down in the warm-up today and I am thinking – give us a bit back as we are grafting here.”

Biggest plus of the day was seeing striker Liam Hearn play the final 12 minutes of the game, some eight months after a serious cruciate knee injury threatened his career.

Said Murray: “I am proud of him. It has been a tough road and I wish I could put him back into a situation with not as much pressure on us.

“He deserved those minute on the pitch today as he took another step on his recovery. He has worked his socks off over the last eight or nine months.”

To the fans, he added: “Stick with us. Today you were superb. I understand and feel your pain and frustration. But we will complete this project.

“I won’t lie to you. Some in that dressing room have got to prove to me they want to stay on my path because I am getting promotion next year.”

Murray is hoping to extend Leicester City full back Callum Elder’s youth loan to the end of the season on Monday so he can face Tranmere Rovers in Tuesday night’s big game at One Call Stadium.