COX, O`NEILL, HAMANN REACTION
Stags show their defensive resolve
MANSFIELD Town are gradually beginning to show the characteristics needed to push for a play-off place this season, believes manager Paul Cox.
The Stags recorded their second win and clean sheet inside three days with a 1-0 success at Stockport County's Edgeley Park.
The game itself saw precious few clear chances for either side.
But Mansfield rarely looked likely to concede and netted the winner when Luke O'Neill curled home from Matt Green's pass.
"Over the last few games we have started to become a lot more stubborn and when you look at who is going to be up there, it is usually the teams who are like that," said Cox.
"The best sides keep clean sheets and keep their goals against tally very low and I don't think many sides are going to go to Stockport and do what we have done to them.
"I can't remember Stockport having anything clear-cut. They had one or two huff and puff chances but Alan Marriott didn't have a definite shot to save.
"That was a performance that epitomises to me what doing well in this league is all about. It's what you have to do when you come away to good teams like Stockport."
"We showed excellent energy levels and desire to say it was our second game in the weekend.
"But we just have to make sure now that the confidence doesn't become arrogance."
But Cox is still striving for improvement, especially when going forward.
He said: "We just need to believe in ourselves a little more in the last third.
"Some of the half chances we had and the one for Ross Dyer in the first half, we just need to believe that we will score.
"Sometimes they remind me of puppy dogs because they want to please, but sometimes they have to be a little bit of a scally to make it count."
Stags matchwinner O'Neill 'just had a go'
Goal hero Luke O'Neill was delighted with his first for Mansfield Town, clinching the 1-0 at Stockport on Bank Holiday - the Stags' second win in three days.
The young full back, brought to the club in the summer by new manager Paul Cox, said: “Stockport are a great team so we are delighted with that.
“I saw Greeny (Matt Green) pull out wide and he pulled it back to me. I saw the goal open up and just had a go”
Full debut-making Richie Sutton said: “Stockport are a good team, so to win and keep a clean sheet here was good for us. We just kept talking to each other and it ended up a great away win.
“We are coming together as a team now.”
Martin Riley missed the game with a foot injury. He got through the win over Kettering on Saturday after a pain-killing injection but it was decided to rest him and let the injury heal rather than inject him again and he could be fit for the weekend trip to Darlington
'Amazing feeling' for Stags match-winner O'Neill
LUKE O'Neill described celebrating his first strike in a Mansfield Town shirt as an 'amazing' feeling.
The right-back popped up in the Stockport box in the 67th minute to curl home a left-footed finish, which was enough to secure the Stags three points at Edgeley Park.
It was a reward for a string of promising performances after quickly adjusting to life at Blue Square Bet Premier level following a summer move from Leicester City.
"It's an amazing feeling to score, especially playing at full back," said O'Neill. "Coming here we knew it was going to be a hard game, but I thought we did really well and it was nice that the goal turned out to be the winner.
"I saw Matt Green come out wide and thought why not go inside. The ball came to me, I had the strike and it went straight in.
"It wasn't a surprise for me to score with the left foot because the gaffer knew when he brought me in I can play down the left and in the middle as well as the centre."
O'Neill feels Mansfield are finally seeing the results of their pre-season hard-work, this triumph following their first under Paul Cox against Kettering at the weekend.
He said: "Playing Luton and other hard games we have done really well even if we have not always got the results we have been looking for. It starts from the front and we have looked solid from back to front and now have to keep that going.
"The confidence is through the roof and hopefully we can carry it on at Darlington on Saturday."
Stockport 0 Mansfield 1
Rob Dawson, http://www.menmedia.co.uk/stockportexpress/sport/stockport_county/s/1457302_stockport-0-mansfield-1
Dietmar Hamann admitted Stockport County will need to find a cutting edge quickly if the Hatters are going to escape the Blue Square Premier this season.
County's unbeaten start came to an end with yesterday's 1-0 defeat to Mansfield at Edgeley Park.
And after watching his side score just five goals in the opening six games, Hamann insists his players must do better in front of goal.
The County manager said: “We've seen in recent games that we don't score enough goals. It was a similar story against Mansfield, we had chances.
“We just have to keep going and hopefully in the coming games we can take our chances.”
Luke O'Neill's second-half winner was enough to inflict Hamann's first defeat as a manager.
And the ex-City and Liverpool star said he was looking forward to spending time on the training ground to ensure his second defeat doesn't come against Luton on Friday.
Hamann said: “We haven't had too much time to work on things because we're playing every three days. I don't think we deserved to get beaten but that's football. You don't always get what you deserve."
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