Mansfield boss Nigel Clough hailed his side’s hard-fought 1-0 home win over high-flying Morecambe as their best victory of the campaign so far.
Stags had lost their last three, not won in five, and were forced to battle for a scrappy win that came thanks to a Jordan Bowery goal after 41 minutes which prevented the visitors closing in on the top three.
“That was probably our best three points of the season with the clean sheet, the standard of the opposition and the way we had to achieve it,” said a delighted Clough.
“We needed a clean sheet more than anything today. If it had finished 0-0 we wouldn’t have been too disappointed. But on our first half performance I thought we deserved our win.
“When you’ve not won for the last five and lost the last three, in some ways we’d have taken a draw today. To get the three points is a big boost for everyone.
“First half we played well and could have been further ahead.
“Second half I thought we scrapped and battled and defended as if our lives depended on it.
“The biggest thing was we made no mistakes and made Morecambe work for every little scrap of a chance that they had.”
Mansfield should have gone ahead after just three minutes but, after superbly saving a Bowery shot, Shrimps goalkeeper Kyle Letheren was relieved to see Jamie Reid send his follow-up header over from six yards unchallenged.
However, Stags were deservedly in front just before the break as Stephen Quinn sent the ball in low from the left by-line and Bowery was there to turn home at the near post.
In a game of few chances Morecambe failed to force a save from Aidan Stone, though substitute AJ Leitch-Smith almost levelled at the death only to completely miss his kick in front of goal.
Morecambe boss Derek Adams said: “I thought that was a really, really, really poor game.
“There was no quality from either team. There were a lot of lumped balls up the pitch – and the pitch could be a problem.
“There were no balls around the pitch and a lot of time wasting. There were a lot of fouls and a lot of bad decision-making.
“It was just one terrible game which Mansfield were able to win.
“They started on the front foot and got hold of the game. They won a lot of corners in the early part of the game without really threatening us.
“They had one opportunity on target in the whole game and they score. We don’t have any opportunities on target and we don’t score.
“That was the story of the 90 minutes and it was an exceptionally poor game for League Two.
“We didn’t cause the keeper any trouble. It was just one of those games.
“We had a lot of domination, especially in the second half but not enough chances of quality. We just couldn’t find a way through.”