FLITCROFT, POTTER, CAROLYN, ASPIN, POPE REACTION
'Ruthless' edge only thing missing from Vale display, says Stags' boss
mansfieldtown.net, Saturday 21 April 2018
Stags' boss David Flitcroft has credited his side for the problems they caused Port Vale this afternoon at One Call Stadium, but admitted that his side lacked a 'ruthless' edge in front of goal.
Stags created a number of opportunities throughout the afternoon, and took a deserved lead in the 72nd minute by way of a Kyle Howkins own goal. Despite their dominance, Stags were made to share the spoils due to striker Tom Pope's 89th minute equaliser.
The Stags' manager praised his side for the way they played, but was frustrated by the amount of chances that went begging for his side.
"We created a lot and credit to the lads for taking Port Vale on and going after them with a real intensity," he said. "I thought the tempo of our passing and movement was good, and we caused them problems all afternoon.
“It’s important that [when you create lots of chances] you put teams to the sword and go two-nil and three-nil up, and that’s been the Achilles heel today.
"We have to make sure that when we dominate a team we take away all of their hope, and we’ve not done that.
"We’ve not been ruthless in key moments of the game. It’s been criminal what we’ve not done in the attacking half of the pitch.
"We’ve had chance after chance and completely dominated them, it’s one of the most one-sided games I’ve ever seen.
"We gave them hope to carry on until the end but it should’ve been out of sight. The goal that they scored was a punt up the pitch, we came out at the wrong time and it’s a scramble that’s gone in - but we gave them that hope.
"It [the game] was in our hands, we had the three points and we let it slip. The goal that they scored came from a moment of us switching off - you can’t switch off in any league. It takes two or three seconds to score a goal.
"It’s really important that the players focus on the key moments and do the task in hand, and we’ve not been able to do that."
The Stags' boss also spoke of the push for a play-off spot, and despite today's result, still believes the competition for places will go on until the final day of the season.
"I think it [competition for play-off spots] will go to the wire and go to the last game and that was our game to assert the pressure.
"There will definitely be twists and turns, that’s what we see every season. We’ll get ready now for next week to take three points - we have to earn six points, we know what we have to do.
"We have to focus this group on the last two games and make sure we are as energetic as we were today, but with a focus to kill teams off.
"That’s what promotion teams do, they kill teams and they’re ruthless. That’s something that we have to come up with."
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager's answers in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Flitcroft believes play-offs are still possible
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 21 April 2018
Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft has not given up hope of making the play-offs, despite dropping two crucial points at home in today's 1-1 draw with Port Vale. Tom Pope's late equaliser left Stags three points off the play-offs with only two games to go and the sides above them with a game in hand.
However, Flitcroft said: “Knowing football for a long time I think it will still go to the last game. “But that was our chance today to really assert the mental pressure on the other teams and we've given them the advantage now.
“But there are twists and turns every season, that's what we see constantly, and that's what we will get ready for next week.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/flitcroft-believes-play-offs-are-still-possible-1-9128683
“We know what we've got to do now. We've got to take the six points and hope someone slips up.” Stags wasted golden chances to finish off Vale today before Pope punished them at the end. “We were not ruthless enough. It's criminal really what we've not done today,” said Flitcroft. “We've created chance after chance and completely dominated them in one of the most one-sided games I've ever seen. “But, unless you put a team to the sword you're still giving them hope. We gave them hope to carry on to the end when we should have been out of sight. “Big players have got to step up to the plate in big moments and have that ruthless edge.” He added: “The goal that they scored was just from a punt up the pitch and a moment's switching off. You can't switch off. It takes two or three seconds to score a goal. “I think Conrad only had one other save to make, but we gave them hope by not finishing them off. It's cost us a very valuable two points. “It's not easy. They are under intense pressure. But that's what we get paid to do to win football matches. You have to do your job in match-defining moments. “Credit to the lads for really taking Port Vale on and going after them with a real intensity. The tempo to our passing and movement was good and we caused them problems all afternoon. “The whole stadium is probably deflated. It was in our grasp, we had the three points and let it slip.” Stags now prepare to travel to Yeovil next weekend.
Stags' winger not giving up on play-off push
mansfieldtown.net, Saturday 21 April 2018
Winger Alfie Potter says that despite this afternoon’s 1-1 draw with Port Vale feeling like a loss, he is refusing to give up on Mansfield’s play-off dream.
Stags dominated for much of the 90 minutes at One Call Stadium, only to be cruelly denied all three points by Tom Pope’s 89th minute leveller.
It was goalless at the break, but it was very much one-way traffic, and that continued into the second-half. With all the chances that Mansfield were having, it was somewhat of a surprise that their opener came thanks to an own goal.
With less than 20 minutes to go, some pinball inside the Port Vale six-yard box ended in Kyle Howkins diverting the ball into his own net. That gave Mansfield a deserved lead but they weren’t able to hang on as with one minute of normal time to go, Port Vale captain Tom Pope hooked the ball into the net to secure a share of the points.
Speaking post-match, Potter was clearly devastated by not seeing out the victory.
“It does [feel like a loss],” he said. “We needed to win our remaining games so it’s a disappointing result today.
“It’s not over yet though. There’s still games to be played. Coventry and Lincoln have got to play each other and then Lincoln have got to go to Accrington Stanley, so points are going to be dropped.
“We just need to make sure we get six [points] out of six. Anything else and it’s game over for us.
“I genuinely do believe that points are going to be dropped by other teams and it’s going to go down to the last day. If that does happen, we need to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves.”
Reflecting on the game, Potter claims that he and his Stags teammates did more than enough to win, but were punished for not being clinical enough in front of goal.
“We’ve done enough to win two or three games. Just the last little bit let us down and it’s killed us like it has done many other times this season,” said the 29-year-old.
“From box-to-box we were very good, as good as we’ve been for a while, we just didn’t put the game to bed.
“We got into so many good positions and all of us were guilty today of either making the wrong decision or not finishing a chance.
“We needed the first goal today. We worked hard and first half we probably should have been one or two up but it didn’t come.
“If it had gone on any longer, you might have sensed a bit of desperation so when we got the goal it was a huge relief and I fully did expect us to go on and get two or three more. We haven’t and it’s cost us.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Alfie Potter's answers in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Potter: We must win both games at all costs
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 21 April 2018
Mansfield Town winger Alfie Potter said the Stags must ensure they win both their last games to be in prime position to capitalise on their rivals dropping points, as he expects they will. Potter was speaking after a late Port Vale goal saw today's game end up in a 1-1 draw and two valuable points dropped.
“It felt like a loss. But it's not over. There are still games to play,” he said. “Coventry and Lincoln have to play each other and Lincoln have got to go to Accrington.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/potter-we-must-win-both-games-at-all-costs-1-9128731
“Points are going to be dropped and we just have to make sure we take six points out of six. “Anything else and it's game over for us. I genuinely believe other teams will drop points and it will go to the last day. If that's the case we have to make sure we've done our side.” Potter admitted poor finishing had proved costly today. “It's a hard one to take. We did enough to win two or three games today but the last little bit just let us down,” he said. “It's killed us today as it has done many other times this season. “From box to box we were very good - as good as we've been for a while. But we just didn't put the game to bed. “We got into so many good positions. But all of us were guilty today of either making wrong decisions or not finishing the chance.” He added: “We needed the first goal today and got it. We should have been one or two up at half-time, but it didn't come. “If we'd had to wait much longer it would have felt like desperation. So when we did score it was a huge relief and I fully expected us to go on and get two or three more. “We haven't and it's cost us.”
John Radford and Carolyn Radford, via facebook and twitter, Saturday 21 April 2018
I am feeling massively disappointed by the outcome of today’s result. And that describes it lightly.
Apart from family and health, time is the most precious thing in life. And it is time, along with a substantial amount of money, which Carolyn and I have invested into our club this season, in abundance.
To see our season now pan out in such a fashion is disheartening for us.
We have a minimum of 180 minutes of football remaining and I expect us to play like lives depend on it.
We have re-built our club from the ashes. Everyone can see the time and finance invested in every area of our club and we are immensely proud of the developments we are making off the field. That time and endeavour must be matched to its absolute maximum in these next two matches.
We have worked too hard for anything else.
Thank you for your support.
Carolyn Radford @CarolynRadford twitter, Saturday 21 April 2018
YOU'RE ALL FIRED
Neil Aspin "relieved" after securing Port Vale's Football League status for next season
Neil Aspin admits ‘relief’ after Port Vale secured their Football League status yesterday following a 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town.
Tom Pope’s 89th minute equaliser secured safety for The Valiants in dramatic fashion, as Vale climbed seven points clear with just two games remaining.
It was a frustrating game for both sets of supporters with so much stake, but Pope’s header allowed the celebrations to begin - much to the delight of everyone.
Speaking after the game, the gaffer has credited supporters with their fantastic efforts since he joined the club.
He said: “I’d like to thank the supporters.
“It’s not only been a difficult season, but a difficult number of years. They’ve had nothing to shout about and when we had the meeting with the chairman on that Thursday night, we weren’t winning games.
“I had a lot of support from the fans and it meant a lot. But, we have to improve results to give them something to cheer about. The fans were brilliant today, it makes a huge difference and they will be delighted that it was Popey who scored it.”
During the game in Nottinghamshire, Aspin admits that his side weren’t fully at the races but was pleased to take a point which secured safety.
“The finish to the game was a lot better than the actual game,” he said.
“I didn’t think we played well at all, we were very poor. We got the point that we needed and we’re all relieved. I’m grateful for the efforts of the players, they have worked really hard to make sure we preserve our league status.
“After the start we had, we have achieved our job.”
With two games left for The Valiants, Aspin hopes that his side can finish the season on a positive note by hosting Carlisle United next Saturday and travelling to Cambridge United for the penultimate game of the 2017/18 League Two campaign.
He added: “It doesn’t do anyone good to end the season on a couple of poor performances.
“We might look at doing something else for the last two games to finish off the season. We want a good performance for the final home game, but today, we can breathe a sigh of relief.
“We can now look ahead instead of breathing over our shoulders and we can now have a good night sleep and relax.”
Vale boss relieved his side are safe Neil Aspin
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 21 April 2018
Tom Pope's heartbreaking late equaliser at Mansfield Town today meant Port Vale were safe at last. There was relief and delight for manager Neil Aspin, who came in earlier in the season when they were looking like relegation candidates. He said: “I am delighted. Although you think you are safe, because there is that mathematical doubt you suddenly start wondering what might happen. That doubt eats away at your mind. “So it's a relief to be safe. It would be wrong to be celebrating a season that has been such a bad season and I am not trying to gloss over it. “We have got safe, which is the most important thing. But it's not a time to pat ourselves on the back. It's a time where we know we need to do better so we're not in this position again. “When I first took over I knew it was going to be a really difficult job. But we got points on the board early which we needed. “I've always felt we could get to safety but there have been times when the luck goes against you and you just wonder if you're not going to get over the line. “To be fair to the players, we may lack in certain areas but I have never doubted them. “They've trained well and most of the time played to the best of their ability which is all you can ask for. They've done well from the position they were in to get to safety.”
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/vale-boss-relieved-his-side-are-safe-1-9128710
Tom Pope on securing Vale's League Two status at Mansfield
by Matty Roper
Tom Pope headed home his 19th goal of the season in the 89th minute as Vale earned a point away to promotion-chasing Mansfield Town, but the strike had added significance as it ensured that the Valiants will be playing in Sky Bet League Two again next season.
Despite defending courageously to keep Mansfield at bay, an unfortunate Kyle Howkins own goal handed the home side a 72nd-minute lead and it looked as if Neil Aspin's men would have to settle for defeat at Field Mill.
However, Pope was relieved to add to his goal scoring tally late on and although he admits that he and his teammates were not at their best, he was delighted to secure mathematical safety and alleviate the pressure going into the final two games of the season.
"It was a relief. We were confident that we would be safe anyway, but you still have to go out there and perform. To be fair we didn't, we were poor and lucky to get a point," the striker said.
"Over a season they even themselves out. There has been many times this year where we have dominated games and lost, so to come away with a point is something we will take.
"There wasn't really much time for Mansfield to create anything after we had scored, and I thought we could have nicked it at the end when Ben (Whitfield) got down the byline, but it was pretty safe after that."
On the character of the squad, he added: "We have a lot of experience in the team, certainly in the middle today and that means we are constantly talking.
"I know the back four are young and they probably don't speak as much as we'd like, but that will come as they become more familiar with each other.
"In games like today where you are getting dominated and you are struggling, your experienced players are the ones who try and get you out.
"If you start running around like headless chickens the opposition will pick you off, but we kept our shape and it was important to keep ourselves in the game to try and nick something at the end - fortunately we did that."
After being introduced as a second-half substitute, it was Dan Turner who claimed the assist for the dramatic equaliser and Pope was impressed with the youngster's impact.
The 19-year-old flicked the ball into Pope's path and he duly obliged with the finish before wheeling away towards the away supporters who were celebrating wildly. Almost 600 Valiants made the trip to Nottinghamshire, and Pope reserved special praise for them too.
Reflecting on the goal, he said: "Luke (Hannant) has played a great ball in behind and Dan was alert to it. I was as well, but Dan is a lot quicker than I am so he managed to lift it over the 'keeper and I got a flick on it to send it into the net.
"I didn't have many touches in the game and it was the first chance I had, but I will take it. The fans stuck with us and they never really got on our backs, even when Mansfield were on top and boxing us in a little bit - we were struggling to get out and we couldn't keep hold of the ball.
"But to keep the score at 1-0 was massive. Earlier on in the season we would go a goal down and crumble, but we have kept ourselves in it and it was brilliant to find an equaliser like we did."
With just two games now remaining of the 2017/18 campaign, Pope is looking forward to being able to play without too much pressure, particularly in front of a home crowd next weekend as Carlisle United travel to Burslem.
Despite it not being a necessity to pick up points now, the 32-year-old forward is determined to finish the season strongly with some good performances. He also has the opportunity to reach 20 goals for the season and potentially become the record goal scorer at Vale Park, but he is focused on helping the team first and foremost.
"We have played under a lot of pressure this year after the start we had and it becomes difficult as supporters are on your back because they expect more, but we expected better of ourselves as well," he said.
"The fans have gradually got behind us and we have put in some decent performances without getting much to show for them, but they have stuck with us and it has made a massive difference.
"Your last home game of the season is always great, people will take their kids and hopefully it will be a nice day for it. With today's result, we can now go out there to enjoy it and express ourselves now the pressure is off.
"Now I have got to the 19-goal mark, with two games left, I will try my best to make it 20. I think any striker would see that as a decent season, certainly after not scoring in the opening 11 or 12 games.
"It has been my second highest scoring season of my career, so hopefully I can get a few more between now and the end of it."
Latest | April 2018