OPINION: Stags send the doubters to Coventry!
At the start of the season when Mansfield Town were being backed by the '˜experts' to win League Two, I'll openly admit to an element of worry.
Pre-season of course doesn’t tell you everything, but you can always sense if a fire was about to start, and if I’m honest – the feeling I felt at the time didn’t even come close to the solitary flicker of a candle.
As the months progressed and the season gathered, my fears came true as Mansfield stuttered, stumbled and generally faltered as the adopted the Craig Priest mantra of throwing a good thing away when it’s well within your grasp!
With Coventry having the tightest defence in the league mixed with some first class attackers, I did fear that if we imploded and didn’t concentrate a defeat would be on the cards.
But deep down I knew that Mansfield Town had the opportunity to send a few doubters to Coventry and send a message to League Two – I’m so glad they delivered.
To send someone to Coventry is an old English idiom meaning to deliberately ostracise someone.
Typically, this is done by not talking to them, avoiding their company, and acting as if they no longer exist. Victims are treated as though they are completely invisible and inaudible – aka silenced!
It’s good to be able to put a few people in their place and put in a performance which was disciplined, commanding and patient from start to finish.
The clean sheet will do wonders for us as a defensive unit, especially given the amount of games we’ve throw away in the last 15 minutes, while the fact we can hurt teams on the counter from distance – makes teams have to do a little more work against us.
Alex MacDonald’s goal was a terrific strike against one of the best goalkeepers in the division in Lee Burge.
However, what really did it was not just a nice set from Rose, but a tactical bit of genius from the bench.
You’d be tempted with six minutes to go to close the game down and protect the point.
However, to switch the midfield and chase the game with the creativity of Atkinson also allowed MacDonald to move from a central role where he was marked, to out wide where nobody went with him.
That extra few yards around him gave him the space and opportunity to net a wonderful goal, so Steve Evans, Paul Raynor and the bench must take credit for spotting that – all we needed was one opportunity.
Being backed by such a vocal support really helped too.
Being stood on the pitch and looking up behind the goal to see the section full of Stags fans will have really flared the players.
I know it’s tough financially, especially at this time of year, but where we can, we must keep that noise going – on the pitch we’ll be rewarded.
I see no reason whatsoever why we can’t see out November with an unbeaten record and really kick on.
Winning breads confidence, confidence creates ripples in the ocean which in turn creates waves.
There is no reason why we can’t ride those waves to something good, learning the lesson that I have learned – work hard, focus, keep on battling and the things you cherish won’t be lost from your grip.