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EVANS, ATKINSON, GRAHAM WESTLEY REACTION
7th February 2018 22:29


Boss enthuses over Stags' second half in Bees win
mansfieldtown.net, 3 February 2018

Although he admitted his disappointment at not keeping a clean sheet, Stags' boss Steve Evans lauded his side's 'brilliant' second half performance in this afternoon's 3-1 win over Barnet as they extended their unbeaten run to nine Sky Bet League Two games.

Winger Alex MacDonald scored a sensational opening goal in the first half, curling the ball into the top corner, before midfielder Will Atkinson and top scorer Danny Rose both converted in the second period to put Stags 3-0 ahead. Bees' substitute Simeon Akinola then scored a late consolation, latching onto a short back header from defender Rhys Bennett.

And after a half-time team talk centred around the gaffer's desire to move the ball quicker, the former Leeds United boss was impressed with his side's second half display.

"I thought we were brilliant for the first 40 minutes of the second half; we moved it quicker, we moved it sharper, we had a lot of one-twos, we had a lot of triangles, we had a lot of chances," the Stags' chief said.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2018/february/evans-post-barnet/

"We get the two [second half] goals. [The first was] a good training ground move with Kane Hemmings going across the front post with Will coming in behind him and that worked perfectly. Then brilliant play by [CJ] Hamilton, he picks Danny out and Danny does what he does, it's a fantastic finish.

"The way we moved the ball was impressive in the second half. Joel Byrom was involved in the play, Will Atkinson was going box-to-box, our two wide players were giving us real options going forward. My two full-backs I thought were fantastic.

"They were over-lapping at pace, picking the runs, good co-ordination play that we worked on earlier in the week and good movement from the strikers, I think they were a real handful and that continued.

"The gulf was massive in open play and that's credit to the boys out there, every single one of them because they've got some good players, Barnet. They've got good players and we had to step up and produce a really solid performance. I thought we were brilliant until 89 minutes."

The Stags' chief admits he is 'hurt' by Barnet's late consolation goal following a mistake from Rhys Bennett.

"I'm hurt with the goal, it should be a clean sheet. I know he tries to head it back but he probably tries to head it from around his knees. It's just a poor decision from Rhys Bennett, but Rhys was excellent [overall].

"If he makes many more like that, he goes out, that's the rules in the camp because the competition's so tough. Paul Digby and Zander Diamond are looking at that and going 'ooh, there's a chink of light of me playing'."

Midfielder Alex MacDonald, who was voted as the supporters' Player of the Month for January earlier this week, was handed the sponsors' Man-of-the-Match this afternoon and the gaffer believes the 26-year-old's performance reaffirmed his view that the former Oxford United man is currently performing at the level of a Championship player.

"Alex MacDonald who, I said he could play in the Championship, he endorsed it today. Not just with his effort and determination to get around the pitch, but a stunning goal. People will see it tonight, it's just a stunning finish.

"Alex does that on a regular basis in training and we've been encouraging the wee man to pull the trigger and to get it on target. That's the key for him because he pulls it enough and it goes wide.

"He's never short of confidence and neither should he be. He's got a heart the size of Big Ben, he's got the legs the size of taxi wheels and he gets around the pitch tenaciously and I love the boy.

"I love him in my team; if I'm picking a seven-a-side team in the week, Alex would get picked every week for me."

Supporters can login to iFollow Stags to view the manager's full post-match interview.

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Evans hails MacDonald's display
chad.co.uk, JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 03 February 2018

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans was full of praise for midfield ace Alex MacDonald after his spectacular goal and another superb display in today's 3-1 home win over bottom club Barnet. MacDonald scored a superb curling goal just before the break to put Stags in charge and on their way to three points and Evans smiled: “I said Alex MacDonald could play in the Championship - and he endorsed that today.

"Not just with his effort and determination to get around the pitch but with a stunning goal. “It was one of our best goals of the season, but he does that on a regular basis in training.

Read more at: https://www.hucknalldispatch.co.uk/sport/football/evans-hails-macdonald-s-display-1-8999301

“We encourage the wee man to pull the trigger and get it on target. He's not short on confidence and nor should he be. He's got a heart the size of Big Ben. I love the boy.” Stags dominated the game and could have won by a bigger margin, but in the end conceded a late goal after a poor header back to his keeper by Rhys Bennett which encouraged a late Barnet onslaught. “We should have had seven. The dominance was there for everyone to see,” said Evans. “I thought we were brilliant until the last few minutes. “The gulf was massive and that is credit to everyone of the boys as Barnet have got some good players. “We had to step up and produce a really solid performance. “The way we moved the ball in the second half was impressive. “It should have been a clean sheet. I don't know what was going through his mind when Rhys tried to head it back. It was a poor decision. “We battled away, scored a fantastic goal from Macca, having missing a couple of chances before that. “Second half we spoke about concentration levels and moving the ball quicker and I thought we were brilliant for the first 40 minutes.” Evans continued: “We were quicker and sharper, played a lot of one-twos, and had a lot of chances. “We scored two goals and it looked like it was going to be four or five. Then Rhys Bennett decides to be a player. When Rhys decides to be a player he's not very good. “That should have been put in row Z. If he makes many more errors like that he goes out. There are competition for places. “It just creates some uncertainty at the end with them putting balls into the box. I am sure Rhys will learn from it as he was otherwise excellent.” Stags might have had an early penalty when Rose went down and Evans said: “I don't know what we have to do to get a penalty. The one on Danny Rose after 10 minutes or do was potentially a game-changer, but we don't get those decisions.”

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Atkinson lauds Stags' quality after Barnet win
mansfieldtown.net, 3 February 2018

After scoring his first goal for the club in this afternoon's 3-1 win over Barnet at One Call Stadium, midfielder Will Atkinson claims that the current squad is better than his Southend United group who won promotion from the division in 2015.

The 29-year-old's close range finish was sandwiched between goals from midfielder Alex MacDonald and top scorer Danny Rose as Steve Evans' men moved level on points with the automatic promotion places in Sky Bet League Two.

And after scoring in his first start since the draw with Yeovil Town in December, Atkinson revealed his belief that the quality in the Stags' squad is greater than that of the Shrimpers, who finished as play-off winners in the 2014/15 campaign.

"I'd say [this squad is] better," said the 29 year old. "Individually [we've got] better players and we've got more quality in depth as well. It's a really positive vibe in the changing room.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2018/february/atkinson-lauds-stags-quality-after-barnet-win/

"We've got such a good squad here. There's players not even getting stripped on a matchday who are good League Two footballers.

"I think the manager's got a really tough job. With such a big and good squad, it's hard to keep everyone happy but I think everyone's got the same end goal, which is promotion.

"That's what everyone keeps their eye on. If they're not in the team they support the other boys. Everyone wants to play, that's natural.

"From a personal level I want to play every game but that might not happen so you just do your best when you can and hopefully you stay in there.

"I work hard every day. I've been frustrated to not be in the team but that's the nature of the game.

"I feel that I deserved my chance today and hopefully I've took it."

Atkinson is currently in his second spell at the club after enjoying a loan spell in the 2007/2008 season and today he managed to finally get on the scoresheet, scoring a second which he felt was crucial in deciding the game.

"I think it was a vital goal because at 1-0 it's (the game) in the balance still.

"I was doing a job on the 'keeper, trying to stop the 'keeper coming for the ball. I think it's Kane Hemmings [who] got a little flick and I've just reacted and toe poked it in.

"Two-nil's still a slightly dodgy scoreline because [if they get] one back, it could have been 'squeaky bum time' but the third goal really did clinch it for us. I was pleased when Danny Rose stuck that one in. It was a great finish as well.

"I think in the second half especially we played some good stuff. We had some chances, we had great situations where we got overloads, two v one [situations] down the sides and on another day, it could have been four or five-nil."

Supporters can view Will Atkinson's post-match interview on iFollow Stags.

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Will Atkinson knows only the best displays will be good enough to keep Mansfield Town shirt
chad.co.uk, JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 03 February 2018

Mansfield Town midfielder Will Atkinson enjoyed his best day of the season so far as he marked his return to the team with a goal in the 3-1 victory over Barnet. But he knows, such is the depth of talent in the squad, there are no guarantees he will keep hold of his shirt.

“That was one of my most enjoyable games this season,” he said. “It’s nice to be back in the team. Getting a start today, all I wanted was to get the three points.

Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/will-atkinson-knows-only-the-best-displays-will-be-good-enough-to-keep-mansfield-town-shirt-1-8999348

“Scoring a goal and us getting a convincing win, it’s been a good day for me and the team. “I work hard every day and I have been frustrated to not be in the team. But that’s the nature of the game. “We’ve got such a good squad here. There are players in the stand who aren’t even in the squad who are good footballers. “But I thought I deserved my chance today and hopefully I’ve taken it. “The manager has a really tough job with such a big and good squad, it’s hard to keep everyone happy. “But we all have the same goal, which is obviously promotion. Everyone wants to play, that’s natural. But if you’re not in the team you support the other boys. “I want to play every game. That might not happen so you just do your best when you can.” Atkinson made it 2-0 on 55 minutes and recalled: “I enjoyed my goal. I was just doing a job on the keeper, trying to stop him coming for the ball. Kane Hemmings got a little flick and I just reacted and topepoked it in. “My family were here today so it was nice to get one. My dad comes quite a lot but my mum came today with him so it was nice to score it for them. “It was a vital goal as, at 1-0, it was in the balance. “We should have won by more. On another day it could have been four or five.”

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Westley satisfied with young Bees despite result
chad.co.uk, JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 03 February 2018

New Barnet head coach Graham Westley was delighted with his young side's battling display in the 3-1 defeat at Mansfield Town this afternoon. Bottom club Barnet had their moments in a game in which they soaked up a lot of pressure and, 3-0 down, managed to produce a grandstand finish after being gifted a late reply.

“I thought it was a very encouraging day at the office,” said Westley. “Mansfield are an expensively assembled squad. They have quality sitting in the stand and they have quality on the bench.

“They can bring lads like Spencer and Miller off the bench so it was always going to be a tough ask. They have been building since pre-season towards where they are now at the top end of the table. “If you look at the match stats you'll see a match that was pretty balanced on possession and we had a lot of shots for an away side.

Read more at: https://www.hucknalldispatch.co.uk/sport/football/westley-satisfied-with-young-bees-despite-result-1-8999303

“We played with a purpose and a thrust and decent enough quality. Over 90 minutes a couple of errors have cost us. Those errors are easily cured. “We have come here and shows great appetite, a good consistency in our willingness to pass the ball and build play, good ownership of the ball in an away ground - there were so many positives and we know we're only going to get better. “We are in the early stages, it's the third game we've played together. “The most important thing today was the character I saw at 3-0 down. We stayed on the front foot and kept building to go forward. “I saw lost of positives against a good outfit.” He added: “These are tough games to win away to top teams at any level. They are top teams as they have top players who know the level and know the score, who know the game and play it well. “Mansfield have a lot of boys with experience at this level. “We have a lot of younger players who are progressing upwards and will take their time to find their feet at this level. “We haven't got a lot of experience, but we have got a lot of energy and willingness to learn.”

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