Reflecting on Mansfield Town’s play-off defeat to Newport County, Stags’ manager David Flitcroft said he was ‘floored’ by the bitter blow of missing out on promotion.
Stags lost on penalties following a pulsating match which ended scoreless after one hundred and twenty minutes.
Despite the 0-0 scoreline, the game was far from boring with both sides missing guilt edge chances to book their place in the Wembley final in two weeks. A long hard season all came down to a dramatic shoot-out in front of Newport’s travelling faithful with Tyler Walker the unlucky Stag who saw his attempt from twelve yards saved by Exiles keeper Joe Day.
A clearly emotional Flitcroft told the club’s official website that he was ‘floored’ by the result.
He went on to describe the immediate aftermath of the match as ‘probably the toughest five minutes I’ve had, listening to Newport celebrate in the dressing room next to us.’
Flitcroft felt it was Mansfield’s failure to take advantage of big moments in the game that ultimately cost them, especially in the second half: ‘The lads came out all guns blazing. We looked threatening, and we got a foothold in the game.’
‘In those big moments, when you have the momentum, you have to go and win it.’ ‘It’s always fight or flight in those big moments. You have to take those opportunities and stand up and be counted.’
Speaking about Tyler Walker, who not only missed the crucial penalty but also fired wide from a great position late on in the game the Stags boss said: ‘The kid’s distraught in there. He’s a Nottingham Forest player, but he’s been Mansfield through and through – he’s been a Stag.’
‘He’s distraught, but he hasn’t let us down. This kid has had to carry [us] at times. He’s had to do that a lot this season and has scored many winning goals.’
Looking to the future, he said: ‘It’s my job now to lift the group.’
‘I’m disappointed for our chairman [John Radford] and Carolyn [Radford, chief executive] because they have supported me brilliantly and I wanted to give them that day at Wembley.’
‘We have some thinking to do. I’m floored because everyone has put so much into this season. The supporters turning up at MK Dons, and then here tonight. So I’m floored, and there’s a lot going through my head.’
Flitcroft may not have the opportunity to lift the group.
His failure to win promotion with by common consent an expensively assembled squad leaves his position under scrutiny.
The Radford’s desperately want a promotion after their investment in the Nottinghamshire Club.
It will be interesting to see if they stick with Flitcroft or chose to go searching for another manager for what is undoubtedly going to be another promotion bid next season.
I think they may well look again and last nights game was probably Flitcroft’s last at Mansfield Town.