Mansfield Town have been ordered to tighten up defensively by boss John Dempster ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup first round home clash with Chorley.
Stags’ biggest strength of last season has become their Achilles’ heel this season and, again last weekend, they were beaten at home, despite scoring two goals.
“The goals against column says it all,” said Dempster.
“That can be a team thing but it can also be an individual thing.
“We have looked at every goal we’ve conceded this season and at times it’s to do with shape. Forget formations – it’s about players being in their actual position and being compact as a unit.
“Quite a few of the goals are individual errors as well, so the basics of clearances, one v one defending, recovery runs being quick enough, being savvy and streetwise – maybe making a foul in the opposition half before they counter you. Sometimes a player may need to take a booking to stop an attack.
“They are real basics that are important and need drilling in and coaching.
“We do have senior pros in our ranks – and they are good – but they need reminding about the importance about doing the basics.
“If we nail down those basics of defending as a team and as individuals our goals against column will improve.
“We will always score goals and we are playing better football, so it’s those fine tweaks that will make the difference.”
However, Dempster did acknowledge how good the opposition were last weekend.
“Colchester are one of the best attacking teams I have seen. They’re in very good form and playing with confidence,” he said,
“They deserve some credit as they had a game plan and it worked, though we didn’t help ourselves by the way we defended.
“We won’t paper over the cracks. They had the better of the match overall and that hasn’t happened too often this season.
“Forest Green dominated us for 60 minutes but we managed to get a point out of that.
“We have played some good teams, but I think Forest Green and Colchester are the only opponents that have dominated us.”