Craig Priest writes.....
Everywhere I’ve been the last few days, I keep hearing one word “Liverpool” – don’t get me wrong I’m seriously excited at the prospect at an FA Cup third round show down with the premier league giants, but we have to remember it MIGHT NOT HAPPEN YET! As such I’ve got another two words for you to focus on... “Ebbsfleet United”.
If we want to face Liverpool then obviously we have to beat Lincoln on Wednesday, to do so we need confidence and momentum, we can only do so by beating Ebbsfleet tomorrow at the One Call Stadium – Liverpool may bring riches and acclaim, but compared to promotion only for a flicker of a moment. I beg of Mansfield Town tomorrow that they focus on the job in hand, putting three points on the board – we MUST focus, otherwise we will fall.
Ebbsfleet United are a team that thrive on distractions, there’s no doubting the possibility of Liverpool is one HUGE distraction to us, it brings a boat load of hopes and dreams up in the sky, to be a success you have to KEEP GROUNDED.
We have the quality to be a success but unlike last season, I still think we are a fragile unit – one knock can break us, which is why in terms of progression and our ambitions, tomorrow is the biggest game of the season so far.
Ebbsfleet, despite their league position, are a side full of quality players that have the capabilities to achieve higher than their current rank. They are the team that nobody looks forwards to facing, there has never been an easy game against Ebbsfleet in my memory for Stags, this season’s no different as not only have Fleet beaten us but they have gained credible draws against the likes of Grimsby, Kidderminster and Wrexham – defeat to Cambridge midweek ended an unbeaten run of seven league games.
Expectation wise we have perhaps under performed so far this term but I think we are in a steady position and have a favourable run of fixtures ahead, the focus should definitely be on maintaining and building upon our current league form of one loss in six. There will naturally be temptation to rest legs ahead of Lincoln, I’m sure things will be managed amicably for the two fixtures, but from here until 5pm Saturday can we forget the Cup and focus on the league, this goes for media, supporters, players and managers a like – if you look too far ahead then you may miss the pot hole your about to trip up on!
It’s fantastic for supporters, players, the town itself that we may get a big third round tie but it’s also important to win our league games, I don’t want to look back on this season and talk about the Magic of the FA Cup, purely because of the fact I know we are capable of so much more, remember those baby steps we took last term? It’s time to take them again now, one game at a time, one dream after another: Focus takes you forward.
LAST TIME WE MET
I’m sure tomorrow will be the complete opposite to the last time these two sides met back in September, the blistering heat just one of reasons we’ve all tried desperately to forget the game itself. Awful defending and a horrible bit of luck, Matt Green’s first half dismissal probably set the tone for the eventual 3-1 defeat.
Last term as we know the Stags took all six points from Liam Diash’s side, Matt Green's strike at the One Call Stadium sealing a 1-0 victory in March after a brace from Roberts aided Stags in a 3-0 win, three months prior.
In total the sides have met seven times since the first meeting, and Stags’ first ever game outside the football league, in 2008. Mansfield have four wins to Ebbsfleet’s two, the other game being a draw – it’s worth noting that in three meetings at the One Call, Mansfield have won all three.
There have been twenty goals in the seven outings; the Stags have 13-7 with six coming at the One Call Stadium with a return of none.
Alan Marriott’s road to fitness continued on Tuesday for the Reserves and as such, he could be in line for a recall – other than that there are no fresh knocks to report on ahead of tomorrow’s clash.
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