Mansfield defender 'annoyed' not to have a bigger lead after first leg against 'shaky' Cobblers

Oliver Hawkins challenges Danny Rose.Oliver Hawkins challenges Danny Rose.
Oliver Hawkins challenges Danny Rose.
‘You could tell when they conceded the first goal that they were a bit shaky.’

Mansfield defender Oliver Hawkins admits he feels ‘annoyed’ not to be taking a bigger lead to Sixfields after the first leg of their play-off semi-final with Northampton.

The Stags had Wembley in their sights when Rhys Oates and Jordan Bowery fired them into a 2-0 lead with 32 minutes played in Saturday’s game at a raucous Field Mill.

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But, to their credit, Cobblers kept fighting and completely dominated the second-half, deservedly halving the deficit heading back to Sixfields next Wednesday courtesy of Ali Koiki’s deflected strike.

“We held on,” said Hawkins. “We were very strong defensively in the last half-an-hour when they put pressure on us.

“We knew today was going to be tough and we knew that we wanted to come out of it with a win. We were annoyed to concede and not have a two-goal lead going into the second leg but it’s still a win.

“We knew what they were going to come with. They utilise set-pieces, they’re big and strong defensively as well so we knew it was going to be a battle. I thought the back four did well today.

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“We played really well in the first-half. We started strongly and we knew that if we got a one or two goal lead, we could see out this game.

“When we attacked, we attacked with purpose, and you could tell when they conceded the first goal that they were a bit shaky, and we knew that we could get a second goal. We were unlucky not to go 3-0 up at half-time because we were brilliant in the first-half.”

Hawkins says Mansfield will not set up to defend their lead in the second leg.

“It’s an advantage at the end of the day,” he added. “We’re going to play our way, we’re not going to go there and put everyone behind the ball and defend for 90 minutes.

“We know we can score away from home. We know as long as we play well and we get a good result then that one-goal lead will benefit us.”