FLITCROFT, BENNING, JACK LESTER REACTION
Manager Flitcroft dedicates derby day victory to Stags' fans
mansfieldtown.net, 14 April 2018
Stags’ boss David Flitcroft has dedicated his side’s 1-0 titanic derby victory over rivals Chesterfield to the Mansfield Town faithful.
Mal Benning’s 67th minute goal was the difference between the two sides on a day that saw 2,617 Stags’ fans make the short trip to the Proact Stadium, and the Mansfield boss has described the win as one of the most important he has achieved in his football career.
The Stags’ manager went on to add that he felt a togetherness between the players and the supporters in a derby win that was vital for the Stags’ play-off hopes.
“It's not really sunk in yet what the lads have done, they put their bodies on the line and they gave everything to the cause,” he said.
“I told them the importance of this football match and what it meant to the supporters. They have displayed all the attributes that you want from a football team.
“The first goal for either team was crucial. It lifts the fans and gave us that edge. Once we got the goal the players, staff and the supporters all felt together. I'm delighted for the supporters and I understand that it really means a lot to them.
"It’s one of the most important wins I’ve ever had. I’ve wanted this from day one.
“The players in the dressing room are absolutely elated. Up to now we’ve not been able to give our supporters what they deserve and that’s hurt me.
“But today I felt that the group of players came together - now they have to do that day-in, day-out so we get some consistency.”
The Stags’ boss also commented on the environment that he wants to create for the players as he looks to create a consistent winning formula for Mansfield Town.
“I’ve seen the team really believe today. We have to make it sustainable now, we have to make winning part of the DNA.
“I’m here to help the players and some of the players in this squad will keep improving and improving.
“Winning breeds confidence and getting on the training ground and doing the right thing helps with that confidence.
“I’ve worked too hard to come up here and not give it absolutely everything I’ve got to make the team better and improve them.
“I said to the players that they have to come off with the feeling that they’ve given absolutely everything they had.
“I had to rotate the squad and rest some players today, but everyone supported each other. That’s the culture I want to create at this football club, 25 players who all want the same thing.
“[Johnny] Hunt before the game was wishing Benning the best of luck and that’s the culture I want to instil at this football club.”
The manager also spoke of Benning’s match-winning performance, and praised his players for holding onto their lead throughout a spell of Chesterfield pressure.
“I thought he [Benning] was excellent today, that’s certainly Mal’s best game. I knew with the shape that they play Mal would get a lot of the ball, and as a manager I will continue to encourage him to drive forward like he did. When he gets in the positions he has real end quality.
“Chesterfield are fighting to stay in the league and they pump balls [into the box], and we had to withstand it.
“We were unbreakable today and there was a real galvanised spirit from the lads, we stood firm.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s answers in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Flitcroft: ‘They tried everything - but we were unbreakable’
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 14 April 2018
David Flitcroft declared his first ever win as Mansfield Town manager as one of the most important of his career after today’s crucial 1-0 derby win at Chesterfield. Flitcroft had failed to win any of his first eight games in charge but saw that elsuive victory finally arrive in the biggest of games when Mal Benning lashed home the second half winner against the relegation-haunted Spireites.
“It’s one of the most important wins I’ve ever had,” smiled Flitcroft. “It’s not really sunk in yet what the lads have done.
“They put their bodies on the line and gave everything to the cause. “I told them the importance of this football match and what the history meant to our supporters and they displayed all the attributes you’d want from a football team.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/flitcroft-they-tried-everything-but-we-were-unbreakable-1-9116040
“It was a tough place to come with our form over the last four or five weeks. The pressure has been building. “But winning breeds belief and breeds confidence.
“The players are absolutely elated in that dressing room. We’ve worked hard but, up to now, we’d not been able to give our supporters what they’ve deserved. That’s hurt me and I know it’s hurt the supporters.”
Stags had to defend firmly for 20 nailbiting minutes after scoring and Flitcroft said: “They’ve done the other side of the game for the last 20 minutes as we had to dig in and stand firm.
“Our aim was to come here and keep a clean sheet as well as create opportunities.”
Danny Rose wasted the best chance of the first half before Benning broke the deadlock. Said Flitcroft: “When Danny had his opportunity I was just waiting for it to go in. Mal Benning’s cross to him was sublime.
“The first goal was all-important for both teams. That lifted the fans and gave us that edge to go and defend something.
“The players, the supporters and the staff - it all felt together. “I am delighted for the supporters, who again came across in maximum numbers.”
He added: “Notts County was a good day out, but today means a lot and I understood that today. “I tried to read up on the history of it, but nothing prepares you for what I’ve seen today and the way our supporters have back that first win.
“I’ve wanted this from day one, but I’ve not been able to get it. But I’ve seen a team really believe today they can now go and drive the next part of the plan which is go and win football matches constantly. We want winning part of the DNA and that’s what I have been brought in to do.
“I’ve worked too hard at Swindon to come up here and not give absolutely everything. I’ve got to make this team better and win matches.”
Matchwinner Benning was making a return from a three-game ban and Flitcroft said: “I thought he was excellent today. “That was certainly Mal’s best game. Maybe he has had a season where it’s been quite tough for him and he just needed some time to recharge.
“A sending-off sometimes does that - gives you time to refocus, recharge and re-galvanise what you’re trying to do.
“With their shape - they play quite narrow - we knew Mal would get a lot of time on the ball today and we wanted his quality.
“When he drives forward and gets in he has real end product quality.”
On the nervy finish, he added: “Chesterfield kept pumping balls in, they were just raining in, and you have to withstand that, which we did.
“You saw two sides of Chesterfield today. You saw a passing side and then when they had to go long and direct they did. “They tried everything. But we were unbreakable today.”
Derby-day hero reflects on huge winning goal
mansfieldtown.net, 14 April 2018
Derby-day hero Mal Benning believes his dramatic winning goal against rivals Chesterfield was one of the most important he has scored in his career.
It was a must-win game for both teams and after a tense, closely-fought opening hour, Mansfield took the lead with what proved to be the eventual match winner.
Benning picked up the ball on the left of the Chesterfield area before driving into the box and picking his spot, finding the bottom corner to spark scenes of jubilation from the 2,617 Stags fans in attendance.
“It was a must-win and we did it and it proves how we’re developing under the gaffer,” said the attacking full-back.
“[It’s crazy]. I don’t know how I’m feeling at the moment to be honest, I don’t know what to think.
“CJ [Hamilton] came on and the full-back went in with him so I thought it’s my opportunity to get forward here. It’s been played into my path and it’s bobbling for a bit. I thought ‘let’s have a shot’, it deflected a little bit but it was still going in anyway regardless. And that feeling! It was my first ever knee slide, I enjoyed it.
“You look at the size of the game, it was a derby and it was a must win for us and it’s up there with one of the most important goals I’ve ever scored.”
Benning also stated his belief that the race for the play-off places will go down to the last day of the season, and has warned people not to write off the Stags.
“We’re still in with a shout, people had wrote us off, I don’t get why. We’re in [the play-off places] at the moment, we’ll see how the results go today, but it’s going to go down to the wire.
“[The dressing room’s] buzzing but we can’t get too high. We’ve still got work to do. [We’ve got] three games left and three victories will put us in the play-offs so let’s win them and perform like we did today.
“We can’t step off it now. Obviously the mood is good but we should keep level-headed and keep going.”
Benning’s goal gave Mansfield their first win since a 1-0 victory against Exeter back in February and the defender was quick to dedicate such an important victory to the Stags’ fans who were non-stop in their vocal support of the players.
“First of all, that’s for the fans. We know how much it means to them and to get the first win under the gaffer as well, to do it here, it’s a good feeling.
“We know we haven’t won in ages. The gaffer’s still trying to implement his things and everyone is trying to buy into it, you can see that with the performances against Accrington and Luton.
“We knew a win was coming. When I got sent off against [Accrington], the ball was just bouncing every time in their box and we’ve just not had that lucky break through but today the two centre-halves, Pearcey and Zander [Diamond], did very well. They just tried to bomb our box and we dealt with it very well. The whole team [put in] a very good performance.
“Those last 20 minutes went on for ages and hearing [the fans’] voices [helped] and it [the win] is for them.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can listen to Mal Benning’s answers in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Benning on cloud nine after hitting derby day winner
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 14 April 2018
Mansfield defender Mal Benning was on cloud nine after scoring what he believes to be the most important goal of his career in today’s 1-0 derby win at Chesterfield.
The defender struck on 67 minutes and dedicated the win to the fans, saying he still believes Stags can make the play-offs.
“It was definitely the most important goal I’ve ever scored when you look at the size of the game, being a derby, and being a must-win,” he said.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/benning-on-cloud-nine-after-hitting-derby-day-winner-1-9116051
“We can’t get too high. We’ve three games left and there is still work to do. Three victories I think will put us in the play-offs.
“It was a crazy game - I don’t even know how I am feeling at the moment. “But first of all, that was for the fans. We know how much it means to them. And to get get the first win for the gaffer too - and to do it here - is a good feeling.
“People had written us off, but we’re still in with a shout. I think it’s going to go down to the wire.
“We hadn’t won in ages. The gaffer is trying to implement his things and the players are all trying to buy into that - you can see that when you looks at the performances against Accrington and Luton.
“Today was a must-win - and we did it and it shows how we are developing under the gaffer.”
Benning recalled his golden moment, saying: “CJ came on and the full back went in with him, so I thought there was an opportunity to get forward.
“It came into my path and bobbled a bit to be honest. I thought let’s have a shot, it deflected a little bit, but I think it was still going in anyway regardless.
“It was my first ever knee slide then afterwards - and I enjoyed it!”
It was a superb way to make a return from a three game ban, Benning saying: “It’s the ups and down football isn’t it? You just have to stay level-headed and not be too up or too down.”
Lester Reflects on Stags Defeat
Chesterfield manager Jack Lester says that he shared and understood the disappointment and frustrations of the Spireites supporters, following the 1-0 loss at home to local rivals Mansfield Town yesterday afternoon.
A goal in the second half from Stags defender Mal Benning, settled the contest, which was often a tense occasion. And saw few chances created at either end.
Speaking to iFollow a dejected Lester said: “Of course we’re going to go to the end. You could sense their disappointment and frustration.
“That’s a big game against their rivals and there’s needle in that game, and rightly so because of the past. That’s the first time I’ve lost to them and it doesn’t feel good.
“It was a tight game, we didn’t create enough chances, we had opportunities to get at people and we didn’t take those.
“I felt quite comfortable with them, I thought Evo [Ian Evatt] and Loz [Laurence Maguire] were excellent, they’re a good front two and we managed to keep them quiet. But in doing that, you need your offensive six, or four at least to get something or at least create something and we didn’t.”
“I think 0-0 would’ve been about right, I don’t think neither side did enough to score a goal. Then in the second half they have one which deflects in to the corner. They had one in the first half, and we had one with Denno [Kristian Dennis] and then Zav [Zavon Hines], when he should’ve been sharper getting onto the bits, and that was the game.”
Evatt returned to the side, after four months on the sidelines with a knee injury, along with George Smith, and Hines, as the manager made three changes to the side which drew 2-2 with Morecambe in midweek.
“George has been patient, and it wasn’t a good defensive performance at Morecambe, which pushed our hand with Evo, who was outstanding and I thought he was our best player,” Lester explained.
“I was quite surprised physically, with how he managed the game, and he was pretty much faultless. To say how long, he’s been out and I thought Loz alongside him did well. And had we attacked better, we’d have not had to defend as much.
“It’s not like they peppered us or they wore us down, it was just we needed that first goal.”
Defeat against their rivals, along with results elsewhere not quite going in the Spireites’ favour, sees them remain at the bottom of the Sky Bet League Two table.
The Spireites dressing room, was understandably despondent after such a loss, and Lester must now look to lift his team ahead of Tuesday night’s clash with Exeter City (7.45pm).
“That’s been my job since I came in, I’ve had to lift the players,” he said. “But whatever you say you have to get performances.
“And that’s the key, we haven’t had enough performances, we’ve shown at times that we can win games and we’ve had some top performances, but we’ve not been able to back that up. And not knowing what you’re going to get has been a problem. And that’s the headscratcher that toils in my mind.”
The rearranged match at St James’ Park has taken on greater significance, with Town having only taken one point from the last 12 available since beating Notts County last month.
And Lester has hinted that there could be changes to his starting XI for the trip to Devon.
He added: “We’ll need to freshen it up about, it’s the last Tuesday game for a bit, then we have a break for the week.
“We’ll see how Evo is, it was unlikely that he’ll be able to go Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday, but we’ll see how everyone is tomorrow (Sunday).”
Lester: ‘There will be families hurting from that result’
Derbyshire Times, by GRAHAM SMYTH, Saturday 14 April 2018
Jack Lester said his players didn’t live up to the ‘needle’ of today’s big derby, after he suffered his first ever defeat to Mansfield Town.
The Chesterfield boss, who won all three of his games against the Stags as a player, watched on in despair as the Stags won 1-0 at the Proact
A bitterly disappointing result at any stage of the season took on extra weight given the league position Chesterfield find themselves in - rock bottom of League Two with five games remaining.
A goal from Mal Benning midway through the second half was the difference and Lester, who was involved in a verbal spat with a pair of fans outside the hospitality suite after his press duties, bemoaned his side’s lack of cutting edge in attack.
“Extremely disappointed. Points are massive but that fixture, there’s needle in it and rightly so because of the past,” he said.
“It’s the first time I’ve lost one to them and it’s really disappointing. “That hurt. It’s not just being 10 miles down the road, there’s more than that. I get it.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/lester-there-will-be-families-hurting-from-that-result-1-9116103
“There will be families hurting from that result today. “I’ve never lost to them before and it’s difficult because I get why it means so much. “You feel for the fans, there’s nothing I can say, they’re not going to be my biggest fan at the minute and there’s nothing I can say to make it better. “I don’t think we quite lived up to the needle of the game. “I thought it was a 0-0 game again. We didn’t have that cutting edge.” Lester brought Ian Evatt back into the team after months out with injury and although the centre-half put in a Man of the Match performance, Town’s struggles in the opposition half were costly. “Evo, we threw him in because we felt it was a poor defensive performance on Tuesday and I thought he was outstanding, he kept the back four together really well. He and Loz were really good, I thought Drew Talbot was really good,” said Lester of his defenders. “We kept their little bits of attacks at bay, but because we didn’t attack very well and because we weren’t very good on the ball, very basic errors of not passing it to your own coloured shirt, we couldn’t get that momentum that would have lifted the whole stadium. “We never really passed two of three times to our own shirt, we did once or twice and nearly got in. “I wouldn’t say that’s a great back four they played against, to not score against that is disappointing. “It was basic technical detail. “We wanted our wide players to be a little bit wider than that in the first half. There were numerous chances to get the wide men one v one and it wasn’t done with enough conviction. “We didn’t really look like scoring, even when we went quite direct, we never got the second touch in the box. “It was a lack of quality today.” The last time Chesterfield played at the Proact they played Notts County off the park in a huge win. There was no sign of that confidence in possession today however. “It’s inconsistent,” said Lester. “I haven’t seen any team play as well as our best, and we’re bottom. “That comes from your preparation, your mindset. I wouldn’t say they’re a confident group and I get that. “We’ve tried to be as positive as we can with the league position we came into and it’s difficult, you can’t blag it, you can improve what you’ve got and we felt we’d been doing that. “But the last four games, I don’t know if the pressure is a little bit high, but it’s just not been there.” When asked what was needed for Town to turn things around, Lester admitted they need their attackers to get them out of trouble and they also need luck to avoid the drop. “You need a little matchwinner. You’re hoping something drops for Denno or Kels might give you a bit of magic but when they don’t you’re looking elsewhere, where is that goal going to come from? “We need a bit of luck. We need Grimsby to win and hope Forest Green don’t win, then win your next two games and you’re out the bottom two. “That’ll be the mindset. “It’s difficult when you lose to your bitter rivals because you don’t feel confident but if results go our way we’ll have to be.”
Mal Benning @Mal_1993
That felt good , enjoy it everyone!! @mansfieldtownfc
Conrad Logan @conradlogan
3 massive points and a clean sheet @mansfieldtownfc and backed the national winner well done all have a lovely weekend