Port Vale's four game unbeaten run in the league came to an end on Saturday afternoon as The Valiants fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Mansfield Town, though Neil Aspin was pleased with his side's effort and commitment during the game.
Vale started the brighter of the two sides, though it was The Stags who would take the lead with just four minutes to go until the half-time whistle. CJ Hamilton, a player who has worked under Neil Aspin at Halifax Town and Gateshead, put Mansfield into the lead on 41 minutes as he cut inside and bent an audacious effort into the top corner, beyond Scott Brown.
The Valiants job became that much harder in the second-half when Manny Oyeleke, having made his first league appearance since early October, was sent off for a second bookable offence. Oyeleke was dismissed from play with a lengthy 25 minutes to play and the boss has admitted they were vulnerable on the break following the red card.
However, the gaffer, despite being left frustrated with a few decisions, admitted he couldn't have asked more of his players.
He said: "I thought the first 20 minutes, we did well. I thought we had a good shape, on the front foot against a good side. We knew today would be a difficult game so I'm pleased with the way we started.
"Obviously Mansfield came more into the game without really creating a lot, but I was very disappointed with the goal we conceded because we should've avoided that and we would've be going in at half-time at 0-0.
"As the second-half started we were really on the back-foot. They were pushing us back, there's no question about that, they were the better team for a period and after the sending off, we did well to stay in the game. You're going to be vulnerable to the counter-attack but I couldn't ask more from the players, especially with ten men.
Following the result, Aspin has hailed the performance of Vale stopper Scott Brown, claiming he is someone that other players can learn from.
With just a few minutes played in the second-half on Saturday, Brown kept Aspin's side in the game with yet another unbelievable save from close range. Hayden White whipped in a dangerous cross which found Tyler Walker just six yards out from goal. The Stags forward looked to have doubled Mansfield's lead but for a huge save from the Vale stopper from close range to keep Aspin's side well and truly in the game.
However, it's not just his performance on the pitch that Aspin has praised, it's the example he sets to other players off the pitch with his consistency levels.
Aspin said: "Scott Brown, I thought he was excellent today, kept us in the game with that save and made other saves in the second-half when we were under pressure.
"He's such a steady, I would say, in his performance level week-in week-out and I feel some of the players need to learn from players like Scott Brown, because he's consistent every week.
"You know what you're going to get, you don't have to worry about what you're going to get."