Boss Cox takes it on chin as he plots FA Cup glory
PAUL Cox is not one to hide away from the criticism.
After the last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Matlock in the FA Trophy replay on Tuesday night, one Stags fan was banging on the away dugout, venting his fury at the Mansfield Town manager.
It was an ugly scene, as stewards and then the police intervened.
But rather than condemn the criticism, he took it on the chin, saying he was just as upset at the poor second-half performance and lack of fight that saw them crash out.
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However, rather than continuing in sombre mood, he is keen to draw a line under it and look at the bigger picture.
After all, Mansfield are seventh in the Blue Square Bet Premier, and were seven games unbeaten before Tuesday.
He is set to bring back six players he rested, number one goalkeeper Alan Marriott is now fit after two months out and they are 90 minutes away from reaching the third round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2007/08, when they lost at home to then Premier League Middlesbrough.
Add to that selling more than a thousand tickets for the away end at tomorrow's game at Lincoln City, he believes it could be all smiles by tomorrow night, the fans dreaming of drawing a Premier League giant.
Cox said: "I expected the flak. It is football management. It is part and parcel of the job. We did not play well – that happens.
"We have to take it on the chin. I made a number of changes and asked people to come in and stake a claim and some of them didn't.
"You can prepare teams and we wanted to show resolve but we didn't.
"But there are a lot of positives as we build up to a massive game.
"We are seven points off top with a game in hand in the league and close to the third round of the FA Cup.
"We let ourselves down on Tuesday but we have a massive game now and a hell of a lot to play for.
"Some of the things that happened the other night, we expect. You expect the fans to be upset but the bigger picture is we are better off than this time last year and we finished third last season.
"What is at stake tomorrow is huge. The chance to get a big Premier League club in the next round and also the prize money at stake which is important to any football club.
"If anybody doesn't think this is a big game they want their head examining."
The likes of Ben Hutchinson, Lindon Meikle and skipper Adam Murray are all set to return to face Lincoln, who are managed by former Stags boss David Holdsworth.
And Cox added: "We have to stay as a tight-knit group, the rest will have freshened a few of them up and they will be mentally fresh too.
"Between now and end of the season, it could be a great one. We need to stay mentally strong and see where the season takes us."