Paul Cox was delighted with the work-out Conference neighbours Lincoln City gave his Mansfield Town side in tonight’s hard-earned 3-1 pre-season friendly win at Sincil Bank.
A full-blooded affair was exactly what Stags boss Cox had wanted as he saw Lincoln wipe out Stags’ 29th minute lead from a Fergus Bell strike before second half sub Liam Hearn took over with a brace and several other near misses in another mouthwatering showing from his new striker.
“That was a great work-out for us and asked questions of us that haven’t been asked so far in pre-season,” smiled Cox.
“I thought Lincoln looked a good side and I think they are going to have a good season looking at that.
“I was pleased with the way we’ve gone about it tonight. You could say we’ve ground out a good win. But different facets of our game are improving. Our fitness is getting better and the new players are learning about each other.
“So I am over the moon with the night, the win itself is irrelevant.
“It was the game we wanted with a tempo and the physicality of it. We have come through it. It was tough on the legs and mind.”
On his two-goal hero Liam Hearn, Cox added: “I don’t need to talk about the lad. I have known him for years and I know what he can do.
“Some people thought it was a bit of a gamble to bring him here, and in some facets it was with the injury he had.
“But scoring a goal every two games for 237 games is no fluke and he was a bit unlucky not to get a hat-trick tonight.
“It is early days for him yet and the rest of the team.
“We are still trying to bed the new players in. But some of the old guard threw the cat among the pigeons tonight. I thought John Dempster was out of this world.
“Saturday we get Luke Jones and Sam Clucas back, then we will see the true us with lots of competition for places.
“Luke and Sam will play some of Saturday’s game then get a few more minutes behind-closed-doors against a Championship side on Tuesday to help them with their match sharpness.”
On trialists Rob Taylor and Anthony Griffith, he said: “Both have been promoted out of this league before and both are good players who have a desire to want to play for us.
“But I have to be realistic in terms of finances. I need to sit down with the board and chairman and see if we can afford one or both.”