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League Two

Paul Cox ready to wield the axe at Mansfield Town

21 April 2014

Furious Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox said the lack of hunger from his side in the 2-0 home surrender to Cheltenham Town had made up his mind on some of his out-of-contract players' futures.

The result, secured by a second-half brace from veteran striker Jamie Cureton, ended Cheltenham's relegation worries and also ensured the Stags could no longer reach the play-offs.

It also halted a seven-game unbeaten run that had taken Mansfield into top-seven contention.

Cox, with most of his players out of contract soon, said: "I will not stomach a performance like that.

"What is has done is make my mind up about players in terms of being able to take this club forward.

"We have turned this into a winning club over three years and I don't want to stand still.

"There will be a lot of footballers out of work this summer and it is a tough, nasty world out there with people working a lot of hours for not a lot of money.

"That was not what we are about. People call us big and strong but they were bigger and stronger than us and showed more fight, more running and more desire. We showed a lack of hunger. Yet on Friday we still had a chance of the play-offs.

"Not one of my players can turn round and say they thought they had a decent game and that's a sad state of affairs."

Cheltenham had the ball in the net after only four minutes, but an offside flag ruled out Byron Harrison's header.

In a first half of few chances, Ryan Tafazolli sent a powerful header over the Robins' crossbar from a 22nd-minute James Jennings corner.

But the visitors came the closest to scoring just after the half-hour mark when Matt Richards got a touch on a low Jermaine McGlashan cross only to see goalkeeper Lewis Price somehow block with his hand from point-blank range.

The deadlock was finally broken after 57 minutes as Harrison ran at the home defence before slotting an inviting pass in front of Cureton to smash home a rising finish from 10 yards out.

The veteran then sealed victory 11 minutes from time as he nipped in to intercept a short Martin Riley backpass, taking the ball wide of Price before chipping him to perfection from the left-hand side.

Cheltenham boss Mark Yates was delighted with the display and the result but said that hitting form like that had come too late for the club.

``It is a tough place to come - the land of the giants. They have some big, strong players and have got a way of playing which suits them,`` said Yates. ``They have pace and power.

"But I thought we were great from start to finish. We competed well and had our chances in the first half and were unlucky not to come in ahead.

"After about 10 minutes of the second half we got it together, scored and played some decent football and ran out deserved winners.

"They threw three up front and put us under pressure but we stood firm and showed we can defend.

"I don't want to dampen the mood after doing well but it's come too late. Away from home our form has been good but we have found it tough at home all season.

"We have not been able to string two wins together and that's now the challenge for us next Saturday."

On Cureton, Yates added: "We always knew what he can do and that's now three goals in two games and 11 for the season. But it just hasn't gone for him as he would have liked this season."

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