Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray dedicated last night’s superb 2-1 away win at Morecambe to John Radford after a statement from the chairman had helped to lift the pressure of expectation on his side.
A fine first half to the season on a lesser budget to their rivals had seen some fans begin to expect a place in the play-offs - so two successive defeats had seen anger rising and pressure building.
Radford had also gone on record last week, talking about possibly reaching League One next season.
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But Radford’s statement on Monday declared he was very happy with the season so far and the progress being made by Murray.
And after seeing his never-say-die side score twice in the last four minutes to win last night, Murray said: “The last 24 hours have been very important for the football club.
“The chairman has been very brave and very honest.
“Like I said before the game, I could feel the freshness around my players. There was a lifting of pressure. That kind of depressing feeling had lifted and that is credit to him.
“This victory tonight probably goes to him to be honest with you.
“We have gone through a bit of a sticky patch and confidence has been low. We haven’t been playing our game.
“So to come away, go 1-0 behind and show the spirit and hunger to come back was absolutely massive.”
Murray is trying to further lift the pressure by telling his players not to worry about league tables.
“We will keep going,” he said. “We’re not even going to look at the league.
“I’ve told the lads we don’t care about the league. The rest of the season we are going to play each game as it is, try to win every game and where we end up, we end up.
“It’s a really fine line. I have put this team together and there are no cheats and nobody who will take easy options and cut corners.
“Saturday (a 2-0 home defeat by Luton) wasn’t a case of they went through the motions and didn’t want to run or work.
“They had been feeling anxious and low on confidence and they hadn’t been wanting to take risks. They were happy to keep the ball but didn’t want to try anything.
“When you go 1-0 down at home it’s always tough, so it looked worse than it really was.
“These boys would not cheat the club or cheat the supporters – I wouldn’t allow that. But to see that fightback in them today was massive for me.”
Mansfield did play a little more direct than recently last night, a Plan B they were able to enact due to striker Chris Beardsley being fit at last.
It also saw Murray play with two strikers for a change.
He said: “We have got to get the balance right. There is so much in the progress I need to make. I can’t do it all at once.
“My first aim this season was to change the brand, and I think I’ve done that now. People look at us in a different light. Now I need to make it effective.
“That will take tweaks here and there. It will take punches on the nose. It will take time. We all want it yesterday, but I can’t bring 14 or 15 new players in and click my fingers and be everything.
“But we will keep progressing, keep working hard, and eventually we will make this a continuously competitive football club.”
Beardsley had a fine game, winning so much in the air and making his presence felt while the returning Jamie McGuire came in to protect his defence superbly.
“Men – that sums it up,” said Murray. “They are massive characters. They are leaders, and know how to win games and to grind results out at times.
“That showed. Jamie McGuire came in and did what he does. I though Bax (James Baxendale) was very good today. Jack Thomas came on and what a performance. Kav (Sean Kavanagh) came on and gave us balance and showed us the quality he’s got. Then Adi (Yussuf) came on and did what Adi does.
“He needs to get a lot fitter. He had another injury which set him back again. But we keep seeing in fits and starts that Adi is a goalscorer.”
Ahead of another long trip at the weekend to Crawley, Murray felt last night’s win was a start in restoring lost confidence.
“It will help,” he said. “Confidence isn’t a thing that comes overnight. It’s something that drips in and the worst thing about confidence is that it can go overnight. To get it back is a drip feed.
“It was a big win for us, but we are not getting carried away. We know how hard this league is.
“I know it’s a massive cliché. But it’s tough to come away to Morecambe on a Tuesday night. It’s hard.”
Monday’s statement from John Radford had said: “As chairman of Mansfield Town, I would like to place on record how happy I am with the current position of the football club.
“Expectation can be high; however, the squad has already met my expectation when you look at the budget with which it has been put together.
“My expectation has always been to remain in the Football League, but to consistently progress on the field.
“We are always looking to improve and want to continually progress, both in terms of league position and the stature of the football club as a whole.
“I don’t believe that we can bring in any better strikers than we already have, any better midfielders than we already have, or any better defenders than we already have.
“This is our squad until the end of the season and I believe Adam (Murray) has put together the best squad possible with the budget he’s had.
“In my opinion, this squad is the best squad we’ve had in the last three years.
“We have carefully constructed a squad with a good mix of both youth and experience, which has proved to be a good combination so far this season.”
He added: “If you look at the league table historically, we are in a very good position.
“We are in the best position that we have been, at this stage of the season, in 12 years – since the 2003/04 season.”