ON Pancake Day, Mansfield Town produced an appropriately flat display in the 2-0 defeat on a dreadful surface at promotion rivals Newport County last night.
But manager Paul Cox said he hoped it was just a blip in what has been an excellent run of form in recent weeks, which had culminated in them firing home 13 goals in the previous two games.
However, the Stags’ stuttering promotion rivals took the points with two goals inside 12 second half minutes, the first from the spot on 66 minutes, as they denied Mansfield the chance to leapfrog them into the play-off spots with the Welsh side’s best display since Christmas.
“I thought we were flat all over the pitch tonight,” said Cox.
“It was the right result as I though Newport ground it out while we never really got going.
“I thought we had weathered the storm before the penalty and it probably had 0-0 all over it.
“We were sloppy and this result may have brought one or two back down to earth.
“We looked a yard off the pace and I thought Newport played the pitch and the conditions better than us.
“In the middle third of the game we started to put something together. But the penalty put us on the back foot and then we had to go for it.
“It was a penalty. The referee gave it. We had two given to us on Saturday and were patting the ref on the back so we can’t complain tonight.
“Both the goals were poor defensively. The second we tried to play a silly offside trap in the top third of our own half when Lee Beevers was 15-20 yards behind the two centre halves.
“At one stage I never thought we were going to lose the match though I couldn’t see us winning it either.”
He added: “This sometimes happens in football. We’d been doing well and everyone was blowing raspberries about us and patting us on the back.
“Tonight we were way off the standards we’d set in the last 10-12 games. But there is no panic. We’ve done well of late and hopefully it’s a blip and a bad day at the office.
“We don’t want to fall into a lull now so maybe I will need to freshen it up a bit as we have a lot of good players sat on the bench or that haven’t travelled tonight.”
Stags now prepare for the visit of Cambridge United on Saturday.