COX AND ***new*** ALAN DEVONSHIRE REACTION
audio interview with Alan Devonshire from BBC Essex. Listen here.
transcribed by Martin Shaw:
"I was delighted the way we came back after not playing well first half.
Normally I turn away when Matt Paine's on the edge of the box on the volley, but he did great.
It gave us the bit of a lift we needed.
We played the game on Thursday and I thought we were a bit tired and lack-lustre in the first half.
To be fair to them (Mansfield), they worked their nuts off in the first half, they worked really hard, and I said to the boys at half time they can't keep that up, there's no way they can keep that tempo up. So I said stay in the game."
audio interview with Paul Cox
Stags boss Cox stays calm as Kidderminster leapfrog Mansfield into top spot
Paul Cox refused to panic as the Stags missed out on a possible chance to take the BSBP title with a shock 2-1 defeat at Braintree Town which let Kidderminster Harriers leapfrog them into top spot today.
The Mansfield Town boss had been saying the title race will go the wire for the last few weeks, so he was not in any way shocked by the way his side suffered nerves in the second half today as they allowed the Essex club to fight back from behind to win.
In the end, it wouldn’t have been enough as Kidderminster pulled off a superb 2-1 win in Wrexham to reclaim top spot by a single point,
Stags now head for Hereford on Tuesday before ending the regular season with a home clash with Wrexham next Saturday when Kidderminster complete their programme with a home game against Stockport.
It means Stags now have to win their game in hand in Hereford on Tuesday night or risk going into to last day of the season with their fate not in their own hands anymore.
With Stags and Kidderminster level on goal difference, Stags are well ahead on goal scored, so a draw wouldn’t be the end of the world at Edgar Street. But a win would be the only way they would know that a home win over Wrexham on the last day would definitely secure the title.
Kidderminster are likely to beat Stockport and we could end up with a goals race on the last day of the season, the title decided by who wins by a greater margin.
“I personally think we became a bit anxious and tentative in how we played in the second half,” said Cox.
“In the first half we were on the front foot and we had one or two chances. We probably should have gone in more than one goal up.
“We looked very nervous and we probably gave Braintree a bit of impetus. Both goals were poor on our part and we never really got going.
“I said a few weeks back it was going to go to the wire and I have been prepared for it in my head.
“The players are only human and everyone gets nervous. Sometimes you have to play more with your head, it’s not just about working hard. Now we will see what we are made of.”
Cox added: “No one has ever given me anything in my life and I didn’t expect anyone to roll over and hand the championship to me. We have to go and earn it.
“Braintree looked much more relaxed in the second half and more free flowing so credit to them. Maybe a few of our players subconsciously took their foot off the pedal and thought we had won the game.
“We have just got to accept it now and move on. Now it’s all about characters. We are playing for a championship and I want everyone to relax and enjoy it.”
Paul Cox: Mansfield Town need to show mettle to win title
Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox says his side needs to calm down mentally if they are to win automatic promotion.
The Stags could have gone up on Saturday if they had won at Braintee and Kidderminster had lost, but Town were beaten and Harriers beat Wrexham.
But wins at Hereford on Tuesday and against Wrexham on Saturday will seal promotion and the title for Mansfield.
"The players have to forget about everything and where they are," Cox told BBC Nottingham.
"We have to be mentally tough now - there are two big games ahead of us now and that should be their focus.
"But you can't stop human beings from thinking - as much as you try to ease their minds and calm them down psychologically, they know what prize they are after and the things that come with it."
"We put on a tremendous run of results to get here, and we need to get that mindset back."
The Stags have dropped to second, one point below Kidderminster, but have a game in hand over the leaders.
Newport still have a mathematical chance of winning the title as well, following a 2-0 win over Alfreton.
Cox said he will select players for their fighting qualities as the Stags look to get their title chase back on track at Hereford on Tuesday.
"I'll see who is fit, and more importantly who is ready for a scrap," Cox said.
"I'm not going to panic and make stupid decisions now."
Stags defender John Dempster said the disappointment at Braintree would serve to spur the side on this week.
"It is something that we will use as motivation," Dempster said.
"When we have been beaten in the past we have responded well and won the next game. If we do that on Tuesday night we will be fine."
Paul Cox looks to lift his Mansfield Town players
MANSFIELD Town boss Paul Cox refused to criticise his players after a 2-1 loss away at Braintree Town dealt a blow to their title aspirations.
Read more: http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/story-18709762-detail/story.html?#ixzz2QWFs0n5o
The Stags are likely to need to win both of their upcoming games, away at Hereford tomorrow and at home to Wrexham on Saturday in order to claim automatic promotion in top spot, both of which are likely to be tough matches.
Despite the scoreline in Essex, Cox didn't feel his players let him down and said: "I'm not disappointed with them.
"It was one of those games where I thought we should have put it to bed in the first half. We were always looking for that second goal.
"No-one can question work ethic and the chances we've created first half and second half. The keeper's pulled off two world-class saves and we've missed an open goal."
One of the hallmarks of the Stags' successful recent run of form has been intensity and a hunger that Cox has instilled in his men.
He said: "They have worked hard for me again. No-one can ever question their work ethic, what we didn't do is we didn't play with our heads. We didn't play the simple ball, the simple pass, we got pulled into a game that realistically wasn't what we wanted.
"We switched off in the second half, looked a little bit anxious and tentative and paid the price."
Cox knows that it's now his task to lift his group of players and give them a platform to go and win the last two games of the season.
"It's my job as somebody steering the ship," he added.
"I told them no-one is ever going to win the league with two games to go. If you mentally prepare yourself for that then you are in the driving seat. We know the prize that's at stake. The mark of a good side is how we react, I'm looking for a big reaction from them."
Regardless of the loss at Braintree, Cox has faith in the players who lost the game to take on Hereford and Wrexham and get a result.
He said: "Good players don't become bad players overnight, I'm not one for losing my head and making rash decisions. We'll see who is physically ready and mentally ready for two massive games."
"I've always had belief regardless. It's not me just talking now, I've been saying for weeks now, it's about having belief we can finish the job. They're two massive games, but they are two great games to be involved in.
"There's always going to be nerves, there is always going to be anxiety. They are human beings at the end of the day and they've had a fabulous season. What we need to do now is dust ourselves down and go again."
Winning is all that counts as Cox says: Time for talking has stopped
MANSFIELD Town boss Paul Cox will send his title-challenging team out with a simple message tonight, "Go and win."
The Stags are one point behind league leaders Kidderminster, but will return to the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier with a victory at Edgar Street this evening.
And boss Paul Cox has called for his players to ignore the hype surrounding the season's climax.
"It's not about entertaining, it's not about the type of football we play, it's about trying to get between four and six points from these two games," he said.
"These boys are capable of it; they're such a good bunch.
"I'm tired of people asking about permutations and points. Sometimes that can affect focus.
"The lads need to get on with the game , it's as simple as that.
"Win two games and we'll be champions."
Asked what his message to the players before the game will be, Cox said: "Go and win.
"The time for talking has stopped now, it's time to get our heads down and play a football match.
"The season in terms of the 46 games is going to be over on Saturday, I don't want any if, but's and maybe's."
The Stags failed to hold on to top spot at the weekend after losing 2-1 away at Braintree Town and Cox was surprised by his players.
"I just thought our mind-set was wrong, especially the second half.
"We got what we deserved, which was nothing.
"I can't understand anyone getting nervous over trying to be successful but it's a natural trait I suppose.
"I didn't expect us to put in the kind of performance we did in the second half.
"I'll be honest, it has quite annoyed me."
Despite the result on Saturday, Cox is calling on his men to be positive tonight.
He said: "There's a week left of the season in terms of league games , I want us to give it a really good go."
Dempster: Mansfield Town can get back on promotion trail at Hereford
MANSFIELD TOWN defender John Dempster believes the Stags will grab a vital away win tonight.
Town head to Hereford United knowing they need to win to keep their title-winning aspirations in their own hands.
The game is Stags' final game in hand over Kidderminster and a win would take them back to top spot, with a two-point cushion and one game left to play.
But despite a disappointing 2-1 defeat last time out against Braintree Town, after Matt Green gave them an early lead, Dempster still believes Stags have enough to go all the way.
"When you look around the dressing room at some of the players we've got and the application we've put in, you can only be confident to be honest," he said.
"Although we've lost [away at Braintree on Saturday] we are still one of the in-form sides in the whole league.
"It's more of a mental thing now and I'm sure if we are focused we will have a successful season."
The 30-year-old captained Kettering to promotion to the Blue Square Bet Premier League and knows what it takes to achieve at this level.
"I've been lucky enough to be involved with some successful sides and our side has got all the ingredients to be successful.
"But we aren't there yet. It's a massive game and as long as we can deal with it and get a positive result I'm sure we'll have a successful season."
Looking back at the loss at Braintree, Dempster's analysis is simple.
"We weren't at our best in the second half. We conceded two sloppy goals," he said.
"If we're being honest, we weren't at our best, they got two goals and worked hard. We are disappointed with the result but we move on."
Despite the Stags heading to Hereford tonight for such an important showdown, the centre-half isn't worrying about nerves.
"We've got to look forward to it," he said. "Some teams are playing for nothing now, in mid-table. We are fortunate enough, with our hard work and desire, to be in a great position.
"If you had put us in this position at the start of the season we would have taken that. So as long as we go in to the game positively and continue to react to a bad result in the right way we will be fine."
While the former Scotland U21 defender is staying positive, he is not expecting an easy game at Hereford.
"I know their manager quite well; they will be an organised side," he said.
"They've had a few difficulties with finances this season but they are organised and they will give us a tough game. It's up to us to go there and come back with the result we want.
"Our away form has been really good of late. If we show the kind of form we've been showing over a period of time we will be fine."
Latest | April 2013