'We need 17 wins now and it's a mountain to climb' admits Mansfield Town boss John Dempster after Cheltenham defeat
Under-pressure Mansfield Town boss John Dempster refused to give up his play-off ambitions, despite a 3-0 home defeat by Cheltenham that left them down in 18th place.
Dempster also sympathised with fans over the poor run of form.
“I believe we've got a mountain to climb, but we're not dead,” he said.
“I think we need 17 wins from the remaining 26 games.
“That's how tough the challenge is to get in the play-offs.
Stranger things have happened and teams have had bigger mountains to climb.
“There will be a team that comes late, that always happens, but the way we're playing at the minute it won't be us. It is gut-wrenching.”
On the Cheltenham defeat, he said: “Their togetherness and spirit was probably the difference.
“At times it was a decent League Two fixture but they scored two very poor goals and one on the break in an otherwise even game.
“They are a side that can play badly and win at times, but this season even when we've played well we've lost. That's a”
Stags were booed off at the end and Dempster said: “I felt for the supporters today.
“I know I've been given a lot of stick, but they are a passionate lot who want to come and see their team get results and this season we haven't had enough.
“At times the criticism has been over the top but today I thought they were excellent.
“Considering where their team is in the table and some of the performances, I think they deserve credit.
“When you pay your hard-earned money every week to come and watch your team and it's your passion, I understand their frustration.”
Referee Sam Purkiss angered both managers with his decisions and booked Dempster at one point.
“The officials said before kick off that it was a massive game and, being honest, I think the occasion got the better of them today. When the referee came over to book me he looked like a rabbit in the headlights,” said Dempster.
“It was a pressure cooker at times and he made some big mistakes. He booked players that should not have been booked and failed to book some that deserved it.
“He had a tough afternoon but it's not why we lost 3-0 at home. It's because we haven't been good enough.
“I have to take responsibility for the standards and spirits that need to be driven into the players as when they are done properly, when you're playing badly you still win. When that happens consistently it's not luck.”
He continued: “I am obviously not managing the group well enough. They're a decent group at this level, maybe not as good as some people make out.
“But there has been heavy investment. It's my job to get the best out of them and that has not happened.
“I will never give up, that comes from my upbringing. The strongest steel goes through the hottest fire and I have been absolutely torched at times. I will always believe in myself.
“It's the old cliché of both boxes. We're leaking too many goals and not scoring enough and that's a recipe for disaster.
“So far we haven't seen enough character in this dressing room. Equally it's up to me to get it out of the players.”