Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft paid tribute to the courage and coolness of Kane Hemmings whose penalty success in the ninth added minute earned Stags a 1-1 derby day draw at promotion rivals Notts County in today’s early kick-off.
In a game blighted by blizzards, ex-Stags loanee Terry Hawkridge had put Notts into an interval lead only for Hemmings to steal a point at the death.
“Hemmo showed a lot of courage and character to step up to that with the ferocity from the crowd,” said Flitcroft.
“You can’t let that affect you and he blasted it into the bottom corner. I don’t think people realise sometimes the unbelievable courage that takes.
“There was a lot of time for Kane to have to hold his nerve and show his courage. A million per cent we deserved it.”
On the game, he said: “It was testament to both sets of players in those tough conditions. It was a real slug-out at times.
“First half there wasn’t a lot between the two teams. It was very scrappy.
“We allowed Shola Ameobi to get goalside and Conrad (Logan) pulled off a fantastic save. But we haven’t backed that save up and we conceded a bad set piece goal.
“Second half it came alive. I was delighted with the last 35 minutes. There was more energy about our performance.
“We asked more questions and it was more front foot. So we thoroughly deserved the reward of the penalty. I am delighted with that second half performance.
“We started to ask more questions and Notts dropped deep. That detached Ameobi and Stead from the rest of the team and they were quite isolated.
“We definitely deserved a goal. Kane Hemmings should have scored in the first half. The ball flashed across and he needed a better connection.
“But the boys competed for almost 100 minutes today, just one lapse of concentrating letting them in.”
The late goal saw huge celebrations with Stags’ army of over 4,000 fans.
“I am delighted we have sent the fans home with something to cheer about,” said Flitcroft.
“The boys have really fought today and hopefully that will be appreciated.
“To take over 4,000 fans to your local rivals is unique. They deserved that.
“I know why I am here and I am desperate to do well.
“I have a group of players that have dug in and fought for the fans and for the town tonight and that is really important to me.”
There was a scare for Stags when skipper Krystian Pearce went down feeling unwell and Flitcroft said: “The Krystian Pearce one was a bit of a worry as he felt something in his heart.
“Conrad came over and said he thought there was something wrong with his heart and we got the doctor on quick. He felt disorientated.
“There was a really worry. But we got him back on with Notts County’s doctor’s blessing.”