Mansfield boss Graham Coughlan defended his struggling players after a 3-1 home defeat to Bradford saw Town’s winless run stretch to nine matches, saying “the buck stops with me”.
Stags were visibly rocked when keeper Marek Stech dropped a Connor Wood corner into his own net after only eight minutes and were 3-0 down by the time debutant George Lapslie was sent off for a second yellow card 11 minutes from time.
On the Stech mistake Coughlan said: “Bradford capitalised on an error. It deflated us and gave them a massive lift at a crucial time in the game.
“It was a key moment after we’d started well. It was a car crash of a moment for us.
“As soon as the ball went into the net you could see the confidence draining.
“Marek Stech is my goalkeeper and he is a top, top goalie. I brought him to the football club.
“I have tremendous faith and trust in him and he is hurting right now.”
He added: “We are not getting results right now and if flack and stick are flying, you have to chuck it at me.
“The players don’t go out and deliberately make errors. They go out to win games.
“I will stand by them. The fingers must be pointed in my direction.
“The buck has to stop with me as I brought the players to the club and they are currently not giving a true reflection of themselves.”
After Stech’s howler, Bradford were 2-0 up six minutes later as Harry Pritchard’s clever flick on Clayton Donaldson’s cross set up Wood to finish.
Then Lee Novak’s brilliant backheel from the corner flag set up a cross for Wood that Donaldson turned home from close range after 69 minutes.
With Lapslie gone, the 10 men pulled back an 85th-minute consolation as Andy Cook headed home from a corner.
Bantams’ assistant manager Kenny Black said: “First and foremost we were delighted with the reaction from Monday’s defeat.
“We made a number of changes with the games coming thick and fast and we were delighted with the guys who came in.
“We knew what we wanted to do to cause Mansfield problems. We wanted to take the game to them and we were quite expansive today.
“The goal from the corner was probably fortuitous from our point of view.
“But then getting the second goal so quickly after that, you could see the confidence grow throughout the team and we created a number of impressive moments where we could have possibly have added to that a lot sooner.
“The only disappointing thing for us was the goal we conceded near the end as it would have been nice to get a clean sheet for the back four and for the team.”
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