Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft remained positive after a battling point in a 1-1 draw at Stevenage moved Stags to within a point of the play-offs with four games to go.
Stags, without a win in nine games, came from behind through a Will Atkinson equaliser and Flitcroft said: “I thought it was an honest performance from the players over the 90 minutes which is what I have been demanding from this group. There was a desire not to get beaten.
“With that last little bit of end quality we should have undone them tonight.
READ THE FULL MATCH REPORT
“We are in a mini league and we’ve got a point towards it. We have four games left and we know what we’ve got to do to drive for that play-off place.”
Left back Hayden White took responsibility for Stevenage’s opener.
“Whitey has come in and apologised to the group for his man scoring. The apology was accepted – we are in this together,” said Flitcroft.
“It’s really important in those key moments we do stay alert and we stay focused.
“I said to him the apology is accepted – now the lads have got to try to dig you out. That’s the environment I am trying to create at this football club.
“We got in some really good positions in the first half and have to be more pristine in those moments.
“Atkinson got into the box second half and finished the chance really well.
“I do believe a million per cent we should have had a penalty.
“Whitey has crossed his line, the kid is having to catch up as he’s quick. He came across him and made the tackle. If he doesn’t Whitey has one more touch and maybe gets a shot off. We were unfortunate not to get it.
“The lads certainly have given everything they could and, at times, I thought every time we passed it well in their half we created a chance.
“It was a League Two game so there was hustle and bustle.
“But when we were calm in our work we produced some good combinations and made chances.
“I thought we did the ugly stuff well and Pearcey (Krystian Pearce) was outstanding – an absolute colossus at the back.”
Striker Ricky Miller missed out on his full debut after getting injured on Saturday.
“He came over about 15 minutes into the second half on Saturday and told us about his hamstring,” said Flitcroft.
We asked if he wanted to play on and he did. He has pulled it.
“We’re not sure to what extent in terms of a timeline, but we’re absolutely gutted as he came on the pitch and made a massive difference. If he’d been fit he’d have started tonight – he knows that.
“He’s worked hard for that opportunity and now he’s done his hamstring. Hopefully we’ll have him back towards the real tail end.
“When Alfie Potter did it we thought he’d be about four weeks and he was two, so we’ll see how it settles now.”
Now Stags prepare for the big local derby at relegation-haunted local rivals Chesterfield on Saturday.
“I’ve seen our fans queueing for tickets every day when I go into work. I know the magnitude of it,” said Flitcroft.
“Not winning tonight makes it even bigger
“I have witnessed the power of the support at this club. “They were outstanding again tonight. The players will be under no illusions what they need to do on Saturday.”