DESPITE a hard-earned 3-2 pre-season friendly victory at Hednesford Town last night, the new-look Stags side experienced the wrath of new boss Paul Cox for the first time with a post-match lock-in and tongue-lashing.
Although pleased to notch three goals for the first time, Cox was livid with the two conceded and accused some of his players of ‘hiding’ in a physical encounter on a long-grassed pitch.
“I got just what I wanted out of that,” said Cox. “I knew exactly what it would be like. The whole game was a massive trial - the pitch, the opposition, the environment we came into. I got lots out of it.
“There were a few harsh words said afterwards. I don’t usually do that when we’ve won a football match. But some of the players need to improve things by a country mile. One or two need to wake up and smell the coffee to be honest.
“It’s all very well stroking the ball around at home on a flat pitch against the likes of Notts County and Doncaster. But when you come to places like Hednesford in midweek there is nowhere at all to hide.
“It was a physical game and I could tell a few of them didn’t fancy it. That’s no good to me. I need players who want to be successful and are consistent in every game.
“If they just want to turn up for a game of football then they won’t be at the club for long. Yes, we won the match. But for a long time I was disappointed how we did it.”
Cox started with a 3-4-1-2 formation, switching to 4-4-2 after the interval.
He said: “The first formation was one I needed to look at, especially with the amount of bodies we have missing. But systems don’t win matches, footballers do and I was disappointed in some of them tonight.
“Standards need to improve if they are going to force their way into the reckoning for the first game of the season.”
Martin Riley impressed at the back, despite illness, as did Adam Murray, Matt Green and Louis Briscoe.
But there was one victim of this physical clash as Paul Bolland limped off with an ankle injury in the first half which will be examined today.
“Hopefully it won’t be too bad,” said Cox. “He will probably be out for 10 to 14 days so won’t be fully fit for the first game.
“But he I a very fit lad, there is not an ounce of fat on him, and if he can play some part of the Chasetown game then he could be involved in the first game still.”