WITH nine men out injured and the majority of the play, Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox believes his side’s display was short of only a goal as they were held 0-0 by an unambitious Lincoln City at the One Call Stadium last night.
As it was a fourth game without a win which leaves the Stags 13th, seven points off the play-offs and 14 points off top spot, the boos inevitably rang around the ground at the end.
But Cox said: “I would like to see the shot count tonight as we put lots of balls into their box and had efforts on target. But you have to score goals and we couldn’t manage that tonight.
“Their keeper was in great form and the save he made from Matt Rhead’s header was absolutely out of this world.
“It was one of those nights when nothing seemed to fall for us in the opposition box but I feel we do need to be a little bit sharper.
“If we had scored it would have opened up the game. But the longer it went on at 0-0, the more resolute Lincoln became. No one could argue there was only one team trying to win the game tonight.
“If we had scored early in that second half it would probably have been a different game.
“I can’t fault the way we played or the effort the boys put in. All we needed was to put the ball in the back of the net. They gave everything for the cause and we just needed that bit of luck in front of goal.
“I thought we played some good stuff. It was just that final ball, final shot or final header.”
Some fans complained Cox should have made a substitution to try to spark a winner. But he retorted: “With subs you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. We couldn’t have gone more offensive than that with three centre forwards.
“I had two 25-goal-a-season strikers out there and I thought Matt Rhead was linking the play up well.
“People must remember we have a ton of injuries. Things like this happen in football and you have to sail through them. We are missing nine players and no club at this level of football can win football matches like that.
“I can’t bring any more players in and I haven’t got a magic wand. We are just going to have to go with what we’ve got.”
On the boos at the end, Cox cryptically added: “I expected it. There is a bit of politics involved here but the lads know what it’s all about and we have a very tight-knit dressing room. Whatever the scenario, we will try to win football matches and leave the politics to the politicians.
“No one has a divine right to win this league. There are a lot of big clubs spending a lot of money.”
When asked to expand on what he meant by ‘politics’, he declined to answer.
Lincoln’s former Stags boss David Holdsworth laughed of the boos he got from his old fans, too, saying: “I have always had a good rappore with the fans here.
“ There are different expectatuions here now than when I was here.
“A lot of money has been pumped in and John Radford has been very generous.
“Paul Cox is under a bit of pressure right now but I am sure he can turn things round for them.”