Adam Murray was happy with his side’s battling display tonight, despite Mansfield Town exiting the EFL Cup in the first round for the fourth successive year with a 3-1 home loss to Championship club Blackburn Rovers.
An experimental line-up, with no recognised strikers, saw Mansfield cause Rovers lots of problems in a very even first 50 minutes.
But two lapses at the back saw Blackburn punish them with a brace of goals in as many minutes to seal the tie with 35 minutes still to play.
Murray said: “I enjoyed the game to be honest.
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“I thought it was a lively game – a high energy game with a fast tempo – and I thought we were the best team for large parts of it.
“They showed their quality at times and in the last 15 minutes they could have scored a couple more goals. But overall I thought our performance against a Championship team was good.”
Murray employed lightning quick winger CJ Hamilton as the spearhead to his attack, backed by Ashley Hemmings and James Baxendale, though chasing the game later on he sent on three strikers. On his surprise forward choices, he said: “Considering none of them are centre forwards I thought it went really well. They caused them a lot of problems.
“The movement and some of the patterns of play were very, very good.”
Murray stressed that League Two success was always the priority this season.
He said: “We were disappointed to lose, but what we got out of the game was some good fitness work and a very competitive game against a strong Championship team and, as I’ve said, for large parts I thought we were the better team.
“It will be a totally different environment on Saturday. With all due respect to League Two you won’t come up against that standard of player very often in our league.
“You do probably get away with the odd mistake in our league whereas when you come up against the big boys, half a mistake and they punish you. That was the case tonight.
“The goals were weak from our point of view. All they need is half a chance to punish you and that was the difference tonight.”
He added: “We said before the game the priority this season is the league. The cup was never going to be on top of the agenda.
“But the performance from the team and from individuals tonight was very, very good, so we’ll look past the result and take a lot of positives out of that.”