Heading into the Nottinghamshire derby yesterday, I had a sense of uncertainty about the game. I always knew it would be a tight match, one which may be physical and difficult for us to get hold of.
The starting line-up on paper actually seemed very good, minus the odd changes which I would have personally made myself - mentioned already within the Pride of Nottingham scouting report and more recently the tactical talk piece I write.
Yet it was clear even from the kick off that we seemed quite unsure how to deal with Mansfield, despite having a few spells where we looked alright.
At the back we simply didn’t, I counted at least four chances which the Stags wasted within the first half and a part from Shaun Brisley everyone in defence seemed to be napping.
It was like all the talk leading into the game actually meant nothing, and I refuse to believe that Mansfield controlled the game that well that they stopped us playing – for me it just like we arrived thinking it would be easier than it was.
It’s disappointing because many of the players spoke about being ready and keen to do well in the local derby, however this wasn’t the case.
Yes, it’s a bad day in the office and we were beaten by a fairly decent Mansfield – yet they were not special.
They didn’t impress me much at all, in fact I was annoyed throughout the game for how easily they went down or just plain dived.
Even the referee was frustrating, yet even a different match official wouldn’t have made much difference.
Simply yesterday Notts reverted back to the opening game of the season against Coventry City.
I feel now pretty much the same as I did when I wrote my article about how Notts got it wrong against the Sky Blues – however I wasn’t that disappointed because in my heart I knew it was the first game of the season and we were up against a tough side.
We invited Mansfield to play us, we allowed them to hit us and defensively we were just very poorly organised.
It’s very difficult to win a game when your defenders simply cannot cope with doing the basics, and I feel massively let down by each one of them – as we arrived top of the table and in good stead to turn the recent fortunes that we have had at Field Mill.
Any defeat I can accept, and as I told fans who asked me for my thoughts, I am confident that we can bounce back.
But there’s a big but: if this Notts County squad wants to achieve something special this season, we must go into these types of games at least trying to avoid giving the game away.
Yes, we are bound to lose, and there was always that nagging feeling that it would be Mansfield to end our undefeated run but we shouldn’t just lay back and take it.
I’m sorry, there was little to no fight yesterday! That’s the most disappointing thing for me, as the warning signs all came within the first half and despite the decent chances Mansfield had – they wasted sitters! A good side would have sunk them, not missed.
I personally think Kevin Nolan should have made a change at half time, yet we clearly missed Dan Jones because Carl Dickinson was terrible but second to Richard Duffy who was asleep for all three goals – just like he was at the Ricoh Arena.
These types of games are the ones you want to see the fight, and we know we can do it!
Scunthorpe United, Wycombe Wanderers are games which highlights this, Mansfield invited us to play them after scoring their third and we looked fairly capable of scoring from there on.
Had we have scored a little earlier, some pride might have been restored but hearing the offensive songs sung by their fans really rubbed salt into the wounds.
It’s like we struggle to raise to expectations when we fans give a great amount of backing, yet we need to come good against Forest Green Rovers – this can’t be the end of the good times within the 2017-2018 League Two season.
We have shown how good we can be as underdogs, and perhaps there’s been a bit of luck but as the favourites we really should do better.
There are some good games coming up which might allow us to forget Mansfield, and as I say I do believe we can bounce back but we also have to strive to avoid losing like we did yesterday – as it could be the thing which haunts us at the end of the season.
I really don’t want us to be punished by a poorer goal difference, so let’s get the defence looking good and we can build from there.