Danny Grainger on the Mansfield Checkatrade Trophy gameWe spoke to captain Danny Grainger shortly after full time on Tuesday evening following the 3-2 defeat against Mansfield Town in the Checkatrade Trophy.
“It was a frustrating game to play in,” he admitted. “We knew what was coming, we knew we’d have to start well and we tried to play through them. They got to grips with it quicker than other teams have in the previous games in this competition.
“We gave ourselves a great chance after we got back to 2-2 and I thought there was only one team who would go on and win it. Then their lad stuck one in the stanchion, which was disappointing, because we didn’t think we deserved it.
“The goals we conceded were disappointing because we knew they were a physical team. I’m not sure who lost their man for the first goal but I should have been tighter on the overlapping full back for the second one. The third one was a good finish after he cut inside, but we should have been set better and forced him away from goal.
“We knew what we were coming up against. We knew a Steve Evans side would be difficult to play against. As soon as they got that goal they were taking as long as they could with every dead ball, but it’s down to us to get over that. We just didn’t put the performance in when it came dopwn to it."
“We started off well," he continued. "We had two or three good chances in the first fifteen minutes and if they go in it’s a different game. It’s all ifs and buts and I said the same on Saturday - we’ve got to take the chances. The lads will be working hard on the training ground ahead of a massive game on Saturday, which is what we’re all looking forward to now.
“I don’t think you can put the result down to the formation at all. We played it at Oldham and Derby, as well as in the Fleetwood game here, and we played well in those games. It would be easy to blame it on the formation but that’s just an excuse. As a group of players in the dressing room we accept that we just haven’t performed well enough tonight.
“It’s hard to put your finger on why things didn’t quite go for us. Sometimes when lads come into a team they want to impress, so they might take a few more risks than they normally would.
“We gave ourselves a real chance when we got back to 2-2 and I think that shows the character we’ve got in the dressing room. Even at 2-0 down we didn’t think we were beaten.
"When we did get level we probably needed to relax a little bit before we tried to go and get the winner, but we couldn’t get settled down. We probably went too gung-ho too early after getting the equaliser. There is disappointment in the dressing room that we couldn’t go on and win the game."
“We’re disappointed we’re out of the cup competitions," he admitted. "We wanted to go as far as we could in one because we knew what it meant to this club with the number of fans who have travelled down to Wembley in recent years.
"It would have been fantastic to have that day out, but we said from day one that our bread and butter was trying to get us out of League Two. All of our focus is now on getting us out of this division."
On the addition of a couple of stitches to his forehead, he said: “My injury was just one of those things. The ball was thrown down the line and Matt Green went to throw himself backwards and he just caught me with his elbow. It’s disappointing because I think it will kill my modelling career! I’ve never actually had anything like it but I’m sure it will come open a few times because it is in an awkward place."
Looking ahead to getting back into league action, he said: “We know what we have to do now. We’ve got a massive run of games coming up and I think most of the teams in and around us play each other in the next few weeks. It's an important period of games if we can pick up some points.
“I think that’s three defeats in 27 games so we aren’t going to rip anything up and say we need to start again. We’ve been doing a lot of things right so we need to make sure we get back to it.
“There aren’t many harder places to go than Luton on Saturday. They’ve had a positive result tonight [Tuesday] so they’ll be full of confidence. Thursday will be a tough day on the training ground but there’s enough in this dressing room to get a reaction. We’ll all be driving each other on and making sure we’re ready to go at Luton."
“The comeback win at Luton last year summed up what we’re all about," he said. "We’ll never give up, whatever the score is, and that’s something the manager has drilled into us. We showed that against Exeter this season.
"I remember playing Shrewsbury here - we were 1-0 up going into added time and we lost 2-1. That was one of the worst feelings I’ve had in football and it’s something I don’t want to experience again.
“It will be good to see Alex [Gilliead] and see what he’s got in his locker. He’s a good player, he showed that last year when he was here. We’d have loved to have had him back but I think Newcastle wanted him to go to Luton for a different experience out of his comfort zone.
“We know we’ve got to where we are in the league by doing things right, so we have to get back to that. The manager will be working hard and he’ll know what we need to do to make sure we’re ready for Luton."