Despite crucial decisions going against them, Mansfield Town boss Adam Murray was proud to see his 10-men pull off a magnificent 2-2 home draw with runaway leaders Northampton Town today.
He also said he was glad to see the back of a ‘March of Doom’ – a month in which Stags have seen their play-off hopes nosedive.
Stags are now six games without a win and sit 13th, eight points off the play-offs with seven to play.
However, Murray said: “Today to a man I take my hat off to them. It was a building block to finish our season off today.
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“We now just want to get as many points as we can. It’s about building confidence back up and that doesn’t come overnight.
“We’ve had the March of Doom. This month has been harder than some of the spells last year as, with all due respect to the team last year, we were poor.
“This season the team is good and when you are not playing badly and losing it’s tough to take.
“This squad hasn’t much League experience and we have to go through the tough times to get better. This March has been like a kick in the gonads every day and we are glad it’s over.”
Stags led 2-0 through an early Matt Green brace only to see referee Darren Handley send off Jamie McGuire for a controversial second bookable offence in first half stoppage time and then award a debatable penalty to put the Cobblers back into the game on 64 minutes.
After they levelled five minutes later, it was all Northampton, but Stags dug deep to preserve a point and Murray said: “I am really proud of the players.
“They are on their last legs and I couldn’t ask any more of them. They couldn’t have had more of a go.
“It was never a penalty in a million years. Jamie has made two fouls and he has booked them both. One of their players made six fouls in the first half and didn’t receive one. These are the decisions that cost you games and it’s embarrassing.
“Before their second goal there was a foul on Pearce before it went out for a corner.
“We have to be careful as we are the ones who get in trouble for speaking what we see, but I know that Chris Wilder knows what Jamie McGuire is like and so every time someone went near Jamie they fell on the floor holding their face and within four seconds they were back up again.
“Is it gamesmanship? I don’t know but I feel we’ve been done there.
“You look at the penalty. The lad has let the ball run through and he’s run into Krystian (Pearce). It’s never a foul.
“It’s disappointing but you have to congratulate our players for playing for so long with 10 men against a team like that, who are exceptional.
“I know Chris very well and I am over the moon for him that they will be a League One team next year. He’s done a great job, but we deserved more than that today.
“It was a good point against a very, very strong team. The lads are dead on their legs in there and disappointed they haven’t won it when our first half performance deserved that.”
He added: “We still tried to go forwards and kept two centre forwards on the pitch.
“But they are a very good team and tried moving us around. So we had to try to shut up shop.
“I feel like three points has been taken away from us today.”
After five games without a win, Murray was hoping to see the old Mansfield Town from earlier in the season today – and wasn’t disappointed.
“Today was about the reaction and the performance. I wanted to see if my players till had the spirit,” he said.
“I wanted to see the character we had a few weeks back when we were fifth in the league. We’ve suffered a bit with confidence.
“Look how good the players were, look how good the fans were, we gave everything as a football club today and I am proud of everyone.
“Northampton couldn’t get out their box in the first half. The boys had fire in their belly, that was still there are the end.
“So with 11 men including one of our most influential players still on the pitch that would have been three points for us today.”