COUGHLAN AND MICHAEL DUFF REACTION
We were the better side, says boss
mansfieldtown.net, Saturday, 22nd February 2020
After seeing his side create several opportunities away at promotion hopefuls Cheltenham Town, boss Graham Coughlan says that the narrow 1-0 defeat is ‘very hard to take.’
Substitute Reuben Reid scored the game’s only goal in the second-half after the Stags missed several gilt-edged chances - two of which were one-on-one situations.
The Mansfield manager believes his side deserved to leave Jonny-Rocks Stadium with three points.
"I felt we deserved to win the game,” he told iFollow Stags. “We were the better team and we didn’t win the game. We’ve come away with nothing again.
“I thought we were excellent in the first-half with the chances we created, and we defended manfully again. They did everything we asked of them.
“I thought we were very good today and it’s very, very hard to take to be honest. The performance levels have really risen and the fitness levels have gone through the roof.
“You can see that we’re in every game and we should have more wins on the board. We’ve lost another game and I’m absolutely devastated, but I have to take my hat off to the dressing room, the way they’ve performed.
“In any game of football, you need luck, and we didn’t get the break of the ball today. They had one or two shots on target and came away with a 1-0 victory.
“They know we’ve been the better team, but we’ve come away from several games this season the better team, without taking the three points. That has to change.
“That hurts us, the players, the supporters, as we fully deserved to win that game. Our lads were excellent today.”
The boss discussed Cheltenham’s goal and Robins manager Michael Duff’s decision to use all three of his allocated substitutions at once in the second-half.
“We gave the ball away in midfield [for Cheltenham’s goal]. We turned it over and let a cross come in the box, and no one picked him [Reid] up for the goal.
“That was the decisive moment in the game. We had the best moments, but they had the most decisive moment.
“They made three changes and one of them scored the goal. But that’s what Cheltenham can do with the squad of players that they’ve got.
“But you take your hat off to them - when you’re up that end of the table, that’s what happens. You get little breaks.”
Despite the defeat, the manager says he can see much progress in his side.
“Today is really hard to take, but I’m really proud of the lads, the way they’ve employed themselves today, stuck to it and created many opportunities.
“We’re dominating games and have had a long road back to where we were. There’s certainly seeds of hope and there is plenty of progress.
“The fitness levels are improving, we’re organised and the players are believing that they can come out and compete.
“Mentality is a big thing in football, and to change the mentality of the football club is going to be tough. But I do believe we’re making inroads.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Graham Coughlan’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.
Reaction: Michael Duff after victory over Mansfield
ctfc.com, Saturday, 22nd February 2020
Robins boss Michael Duff was pleased to come out on the right side of a tight home clash with Mansfield Town.
Reuben Reid's second half header sealed three points and a fifth straight home victory for the Robins.
Mansfield though had chances with Owen Evans earning his second clean sheet with a number of important one-on-one stops.
Duff praised the defensive character of his team, particularly late on, as they held on to record another crucial win.
"I think they'll probably feel hard done by. I thought it was a pretty even game," he said.
"It was more through our poor play than their good play I'd say. They were our mistakes that let them in rather than them opening us up.
"In the last 10 or 15 minutes you see the togetherness, the group, proper defending.
"They never really threatened in the last 10 or 15 minutes, but it's why you have a goalkeeper - we think he's a good goalkeeper. He made big saves and we scored a big chance.
"There wasn't a lot in it so I'm sure that Graham (Coughlan) will come out and say he probably thought they deserved a point."
MICHAEL DUFF AFTER THE 1-0 WIN OVER MANSFIELD TOWN
gloucestershirelive.co.uk, By Jon Palmer, 22 FEB 2020
Did you think that was a fair result?
I think they'll probably feel hard done by. It was a pretty even game. A couple of moments, more through our poor play than their good play, I'd say, our mistakes let them in rather than them opening us up. But then in the last 10 or 15 minutes, you see the togetherness of the group and proper defending because they never really threatened in the last 10 of 15 minutes. It's why you have a goalkeeper, we think he's a good goalkeeper, he's made big saves and we've scored a big chance, so there wasn't a lot in it. I am sure Graham (Coughlan) will come out and say they deserved a point. They frustrated us well in the first half, killed the game and we couldn't get any momentum, they quietened the crowd down. I thought we were sloppy in our general, overall play. One moment of quality has won us the game. The togetherness and shape of the team, the spirit they showed for each other, in the last 15 minutes. The three subs came on and made an impact, which is what we wanted. It was looking a little bit flat and I said it last week, I'd rather lose a game trying to win a game now. Points are no good. If you get beaten 1-0 going for it...the team was an attacking team, three subs were attacking. That's not me trying to big me up, it's what we want to do and we're in a position we haven't been in for a long, long time, so let's go for it. If you fail, I'd rather fail going for it than being cautious.
Was it a day when the result was more impressive than the performance?
Yes. There is no getting away from that. We weren't great, but there is more than one way to win a game of football. It's 46 games, League Two, it's attritional and you have to find ways to win. That's something we have done better since the Scunthorpe game. We have found a way. They had a bit of pressure, but we should have scored a second goal on the counter. We had opportunities to kill the game off, but they were going for it as well at that point. It was an edgy type game, but fall the right side of those and we have.
It was a bold decision to send three players on, did you think about holding one substitute back?
Yes, we thought about it, but I'd rather go for it. We will have to go to places and shut up shop and you do take a point sometimes. If something hadn't gone our way, I'd have regretted it. If we'd lost 1-0, or someone had got injured two minutes later, I'd have to suck it up and take it. I thought the three subs made an impact and you look at the quality of the people running up and down who haven't started the game, the people who aren't in the squad today as well. They are all here, in there together, celebrating together, more than 11 players that achieve anything.
Reuben Reid has scored winners in the last three games. Given how much football he's missed it is like having a brand new player in the team?
Yes because he's not played before Christmas. He has come in and we've managed to manage him a bit better this time, because there are quite a few centre forwards in the building. Reuben is what he is, he does what we thought he would do. I said it last week and I'll repeat it, he isn't an Alfie May or a Luke Varney, or an Alex Addai, running around all over the place. But if you get quality into him and give him chances, he's proven at this level. Broomy has put two great balls in that have said 'head me in' but someone has to be there to do it and he has done.
You must feel justified in having Ryan Broom out on that right flank because that's two Saturdays running he's set up the winning goal
It was a tactical decision me and the staff have made. Longy took it the right way. I'd have probably swapped them over in the last 10 minutes if I could have done! I actually asked Longy if he could sneak on. It's not that I don't trust Broomy, but once the game turns like that, he's the defender of the wing-back and Broomy is the winger. He has got that quality. We didn't see a lot of him or Huss (Chris Hussey) today because they boxed it off and blocked us up well. You want that one moment and he delivered it.
This time last season, you were looking at the different end of the table. (Mathematically safe now!) Is there a different kind of pressure now, looking upwards rather than down?
Not from me, no. I put pressure on myself to win every game. We do put pressure on ourselves. We try and win every half, we reset and we go again. I don't think there is a lot of pressure from the outside world because teams will still think we'll fall away at some point, but that's fine. The pressure always come from within and it's why you are in the game, because you want to win. If it's a five-a-side, there is always something on it, in training, the lads recognise there is an opportunity and that's all it is: an opportunity. Do everything right, live your life right, stick together and try and achieve something as a team. It's a possibility, but there is still a long way to go.
Another clean sheet, defensive record has been exceptional all season. As a former defender, does that give your particular pride?
Not really, but as a manager it gives me pride because I'd like to think we create a little bit as well. You want both sides of the game. Today the defence made some sloppy errors that we haven't made many of this season. That's why you have a goalkeeper and it's his job to keep it out of the net and a couple of times he's done it well today. And then we are back to what we are, defensive shape and organisation, which is something we do work on. That did look good in the last 10 minutes.
Owen Evans hasn't done a lot wrong since coming in, but last week's goal against Orient could have affected him. How did he react to that?
I just said to him, you earn yourself credit. He was unlucky and didn't deserve it, but he kept working hard, kept doing it right all the time and he's made two big saves. When Nicky Maynard runs through you don't often expect him to miss. They did that at Plymouth three or four weeks ago, when they should have been three or four nil up inside half an hour. Let's not forget, they are a good team. People might look at the table and think 'well you should have beaten them' but they are a big team in this league, with big players. I think it's a good result and I was pleased for Owen. I think that's five in seven now, of which one was a penalty that was never a penalty at Bradford and a freak incident on top of that. So if you break it down, it's three in seven in my eyes - that tells you how defensively solid the team looks, with a goal threat.
You said you are going for wins and that points are not good. Does that mean you are chasing the top three all out?
Just try and win the game. It is boring, but it's true. There is no point in us worrying about other teams. The challenge is, if we can win enough games between now and the end of the season, you'll finish where you deserve to finish. We are on a decent run at the minute, we are trying to win games. It's not gung-ho, but there are moments in games when you think 'it might not be a bad point, this' but there is an opportunity to finish in the top three. There is a bit of a gap, but we have games in hand. If we can win one or two of those, the table might look slightly different, but from where we were to where we are, it's been a good progression and we have to try and stay on that upward trajectory.
Same amount of points now that you finished on last season, with 13 games left...
Last season is parked. The back end of last season from Christmas onwards we showed similar form. The players have got better at understand what we want them to do, because we do play a slightly different way and ask slightly different things. Today it didn't work, but the found a way themselves.
Bravery paid off with the triple sub
It worked today, so it looks great. Next week it might not work and people will say 'you shouldn't have done it' - but I'll tell you now why I am doing it: because we want to try and win games. 0-0 wouldn't have been the result we'd wanted. That's not to say if you'd have given me 0-0 before the game...but it depends how the game pans out. It was becoming a frustrating affair and the crowd were quiet. You could almost sense them getting edgy. Alex goes on one run, when he took it half the length of the pitch and wins a corner. All of a sudden it gives everyone a lift and we build from there.
Reuben has had a miserable time for much of this season, does that mean these goals will mean even more to him?
I've not spoken to him since the game has finished, but when I was on the pitch, he was really frustrated because he feels there were goals left out on the pitch because of the counter opportunities. But he's been brilliant, Reubs. A few people questioned a few different things, but since he came in, he's been absolutely top drawer. I think he lost 10 kilos between meeting me and the end of pre-season because he got smashed in the gym. I am a firm believer in hard work paying you back. He's had a kick along the way, coming in and scoring, then getting injured, so he's had to deal with that. He's been great and he helps the other players. He is a more experienced one, but that's what we want. We have a blend of everything.
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