As Mansfield Town’s faint play-off hopes died with today’s 1-1 home draw with Barnet, boss Adam Murray challenged his side to end the season unbeaten and finish eighth.
A jaded performance against the Bees saw loanee Mani Dieseruvwe net his first goal for the club and the Stags waste a succession of other chances as Barnet took home a deserved point.
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With AFC Wimbledon winning, it meant the seventh and final spot for the play-offs was finally beyond his side with two games to play, but Murray said: “We have six points to play for and if we can’t finish seventh I want to finish eighth. That’s our aim now.
“The month of March killed us. All we needed from that was probably a win to keep the flame alive. A couple of wins would have been great, and we should have got them.
“As a manager I chased the results too much. We should have stuck to the process and that’s my learning curve.
“Players’ decision-making has let us down in both boxes at times which had probably cost us a play-off place.
“It was a massive learning curve to throw 14/15 new players into a hat and shake it up and ask them to do what I want in my first full season as a manager.
“The players have done great and I am proud of every single one of them.”
On today’s game he said: “We started slow. We started like we’d had a tough couple of weeks. We looked a little bit sluggish.
“It was a poor goal (to concede). We knew exactly what was coming and we didn’t deal with it.
“We had a bit of a barney at half-time as that was probably an error we were making four months ago.
“I think it was more tired minds today than bad technical ability or tactical play. It was a frustrating game as we had more than enough chances to win it.
“Some of the chances we had we have to score. If we are being really honest with ourselves, that’s probably been the missing thing all season.
“We need to be better next season and we will deal with that in the summer.”
He added: “It was a funny game. They put us under a lot of pressure. (John) Akinde is like eight handfuls, not one. “We knew if we got in a wrestling match we’d lose a couple of times we made bad decisions and did get into a wrestling match.
“Overall, we’ve not got beaten and I thought we did enough to win it.
“But you look elsewhere in the league and the teams we needed to slip up have won. We now want to finish the season unbeaten and on a high.
“It took us 20 minutes to get going, then it was a great finish by Mani. But we didn’t have that sharp cutting edge we’ve had in recent weeks. We had scored 10 goals in three games for a reason before today.
“Today we looked like the last couple of weeks had caught up with us.
“I though Mani played well. He is a young lad with lots of potential and lots to learn. It was a great finish and a great bit of skill.”
Man of the match went to Adam Chapman, a target of the boo boys at home this season, and Murray said: “I am over the moon for Chappie.
“He’s done that for the last four games now and the fans gave him recognition for that.
“I am proud of the fans to be honest as it’s sometimes tough to bite the bullet when you’ve been giving someone stick.
“Fair play to them, they all shouted his name when he was coming off.”
Murray is a big fan of Barnet and their boss Martin Allen, who also had nice words on Murray’s achievements which delighted the Stags manager.
He said: “I like them. I am a big fan of the manager and a big fan of the way they do things. They are in your face and make it hard to defend.
“They’ve had a great season and fair play to them.”
On Allen’s comments that Murray is a bright young manager to watch in the future,” he added: “Coming from someone that has hit milestone after milestone in his career as a manager that gives me shivers down my spine. That’s a lovely comment.
“He is someone I watch, even when we are not playing them. He has charisma.
“I know a lot of people who have worked under him and every one of them speaks highly of him - not just his managerial skills, but his people skills as well. So to get that comment is super.”