Stags boss Cox not taking safety for granted yet

Paul Cox.
Paul Cox.

Despite Mansfield Town today moving up to 12th place after their first back-to-back wins since September, manager Paul Cox is not taking League safety for granted until the Stags are mathematically assured of survival.

Adam Murray’s seventh minute free kick settled a scrappy home clash with AFC Wimbledon this afternoon and Cox said: “That was a big result for us today.

“The performance wasn’t there but I would always take a result over a performance.

“But it is just a win and we now have another big game ahead of us at Morecambe on Saturday.

“I would love to think we are now safe but mathematically we are not.

“It is not over until the fat lady sings and we will carry on right to the end. I want us to keep working hard and keep winning football matches. Nothing has been achieved yet.

“I am not going to be arrogant and say we are safe. I would rather we finished the season on an incredible high, though I would like to give some of my younger players some experience when I can.

“Come the end of the season we will finish where we deserve.”

Cox had plenty of praise for the home fans, who again got behind the side well and kept some very tired players going.

“I am proud of this football club tonight,” said Cox. “Home and away the supporters and players are working towards each other and it is putting a big smile on my face.

“Sometimes I get frustrated with this football club because I know there will be bad times during a season and some of our supporters get frustrated with that.

“But when they are in the mode they were in today there is no better place to be as a player or a manager. It was such a cauldron of noise which is so invigorating it makes me smile.

“The crowd have played a massive part in our resurgence since Christmas and have really got behind the boys.

“Quite a few of the players were running on empty out there towards the end today and they will get a couple of days off to recharge and then we will see who is fit for Saturday.”

He added: “I started with 3-5-2 again today as it has been a long, hard month and I anticipated it would be a scrappy game today that would probably come down to a sloppy goal.

“There were a lot of tired bodies out there today on both sides. But Wimbledon didn’t lay down and really made us work hard. They really came at us late on and you could see why they have picked up a lot of late points as they are a fit, strong bunch who have had an excellent season.

“The players are tired physically and mentally.”

The Dons refused to give up but failed to take any of three good chances to level and their manager, Neal Ardley, said: “I am really disappointed. The lads battled well and gave it a good go at the end.

“I did not think Mansfield looked like hurting us until the closing stages, but we have lost to a soft goal and were chasing the game from an early stage.

“We knew it would be a physical game against a strong team who did not want to play through midfield.

“Mansfield played back to front and I will not fault them for that. They have got to their 50 points target so credit to them.

“We had an excellent chance to score at the start of the second half and did not take it. We lacked quality in key areas, especially in the final third.

“We have got to look to win every game we play until the end of the season and to bounce back from this.”