Despite a 2-0 defeat at Southend United this afternoon, Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray was much happier with his side’s showing after last weekend’s home hammering by York City.
He got the reaction he demanded from his players with a much gutsier display and good spells of possession.
However, two goals in seven minutes after sloppy mistakes from Stags were punished by a ruthless promotion-chasing Shrimpers side.
For match report click HERE
It left Mansfield six points off the drop zone with six games to go with very tough games against promotion-chasers Shrewsbury at home (Monday, 1pm) and Plymouth (away, next Saturday).
“Today is a tough one to take,” said Murray. “I asked for certain things before the game. And the supporters that travelled down will agree the performance was there.
“If I am being honest it was one of our better performances for a while.
We have got to be men. We have got to stand up and fight and get our tin helmets on
“But w saw today why they are where they are in the play-offs and why we are where we are. We had chances in the game but didn’t take then.
“We dictated and played some great stuff, then we gave away two sloppy goals.
“But we wanted to come here and get a bit of pride back and we did that.
“Coming into this game we always knew it would be tremendously hard as Southend are a great team. They have had very few personnel changes over the last few years and are like a machine in certain ways.
“What won the game was that they were ruthless in both boxes and we were not.
“Today the fans will go away very disappointed, as will the players, to lose the game, but if we perform like that we will be okay.
“We have come to a top of the table team and dictated for large parts. Take away the sloppy errors and we come away with something.
“Overall, we played some good stuff and our work ethic was top drawer. We showed commitment and pride.
“But it’s tough when you don’t get the rub of the green.”
Murray tried to ease the growing pressure as the relegation battle hots up by saying the biggest games will be the last four with anything gained from the Shrewbury and Plymouth games a bonus.
He said: “We must now prepare and recover as quickly as we can as we have two big games coming up against top opposition.
“We have to be realistic. Those teams are not in our ball park.
“Then we have four ‘World Cup finals’ after that. That I think will be the telling time. We have a very tough few weeks and four of the biggest games in this football club’s history for a long time ahead.
“We have got to be men. We have got to stand up and fight and get our tin helmets on.
“It is frustrating, but we are doing everything we can as a football club to pull this over the line.”