Relief for Stags boss with elusive goal and point at bogey club

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray
Picture by Dan Westwell

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray Picture by Dan Westwell

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Adam Murray was a relieved man to see his Mansfield Town side finally end their goal drought and pick up a rare point in tonight’s 1-1 draw at bogey side Accrington Stanley.

Chris Clements’ first half free kick was Stags’ first goal in 482 minutes and, although Stanley levelled after the break, Mansfield came away with a draw after Stanley had done the double over them the past two seasons.

It was a 10th game without a win against them overall and Stags last win at Accrington was back in March 1961, this their sixth trip there since.

“I was a relief,” said Murray on the Clements goal – Stags’ first since 27th August.

“ It’s been tough. You look at stats and the law of averages, you keeping hitting high numbers, at some point things have got to change.

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“Against Barnet we had 87 entries into the final third. On Saturday we had 97. I’m not saying that’s 97 clear chances by the way, but it was 97 times there should be more happening.

“Eventually confidence goes and you stop playing off instinct. Your forward players, born on instinct, start over-thinking and that’s what has happened to us.

“So to see it hit the net, eventually after it’s rattled the bar, I didn’t even have the energy to celebrate.

“It’s a tough place to come this and we’ve never got anything here. So to be comfortable and perform like we did, we are over the moon and just disappointed in the goal we conceded.”

He continued: “I feel good about the point and I feel better for the lads that they’ve hopefully now got that little air of confidence, not necessarily from the goal but from the performance. It was a solid performance, apart from set plays tonight.

“We didn’t really feel threatened and I was disappointed to concede the goal we did.

“But it was little things like the applause the fans gave the players after the game. That means the world to them. The stick we all get probably affects them more than anybody.

“I am hoping tonight’s performance the goal, the appreciation from the hardcore fans seeing another performance put it, will be a few building blocks for the boys.

“After we scored, you look at the number of times we won it in the final third through our pressing and our enthusiasm to go and nick another one, we felt we had them on the rack.”

However, it was Accrington who stole an equaliser through Terry Gornell 11 minutes into the second half.

“After half-time we needed to come out the blocks and we knew we’d have to contain them for the first 10/15 minutes, which we did,” said Murray.

“Then you concede a poor goal like that – you just switch off.

“I think it was just concentration. We’ve watched it back 10 times already.

“It is just that bit of naivety we’ve got at the minute, hence why we put Jamie McGuire in there today with Lee Collins as, over time, that will give us more leaders on the pitch.

“That little thing cost us the three points today, which if we’d got them, we would have thoroughly deserved them.”

Murray sprang a pre-match surprise when he dropped Matt Green to the bench to give Pat Hoban his first start as one of three changes.

“The biggest thing I enjoyed from that juggle today was the attitude of Matt Green,” said Murray.

“He understood it. He was in the changing room fired up like he normally is, backing the boys.

“He walked in at half-time and said ‘unbelievable lads, keep it going’. So to get that reaction from your star is good.”

The draw saw Stags drop a place to 14th and end September without a win – but Murray said it had been a torrid month off the pitch and one he was glad to see the back of.

“I know the month Greeny has had,” he said. “It’s excuses people will read but we’ve had that much happening behind the scenes, it has disrupted the group. It really has.

“We’ve had Bax (James Baxendale) off this week with a personal issue, which is why he’s been left out of the squad the last couple of games. But we are going to be all right.”

Murray said he intended now on tweaking his style to more the way he had his side playing last year as he felt the new formations he’d been trying were not working as well as hoped.

“We are going to have to take baby steps now as there are certain things we are starting again with,” he said.

“We are going back to what broke records last year. Because of the players we signed this summer I have gone away from my blueprint and tried to re-jig it.

“I’ve been playing Danny Rose in a front three on the left wing. I’m not going to get the best out of him, but it’s to get people like Matt Green and him in the team as well as play the way I want to play and what suits us, and it hasn’t worked. So we’re going back to the blueprint we had last year.

“I thought what really worked tonight was the energy, the endeavour to go and win the ball back quickly and play, we looked a lot more comfortable. I am peaceful in my mind with the way we are setting up now.

“If I am being totally honest the last nine games, even though for me we’ve had a really good start, I haven’t really been 10 per cent at peace with it.”