Craig Priest & Emily Sykes write...
After a few days off the title charge continues tomorrow as Paul Cox’s side travel to Woking for a game re-arranged more times than we care to count. Put back 24 hours from tonight due to a Champions League Clash in Manchester the question is does it really matter – the fact is it’s another game and another three points up for grabs.
In actual fact what the postponement gives us is two ways of thinking – with all of our rivals playing tonight does it gives us a stress free night worrying about nobody but ourselves or does it mean we’ll be desperate to play ‘catch-up’ once more.
In our opinion it’s actually a mixture of the two, Paul Cox and his players will no doubt be looking at the results tonight hoping that results go their way – for example a draw between Forest Green and Grimsby would be perfect, if such a thing were to happen then there’s added confidence for tomorrow’s trip yet on the flip side if results don’t go our way then there is potentially added pressure to come home with all three points.
Looking at the fixtures tonight and the teams around us you can see that there are several crunch games, if the tightness of this league so far has taught us anything, it is that anybody can beat anybody. Leaders Wrexham on paper have the easiest game of the lot as they host second from bottom Ebbsfleet – Liam Daish’s side won’t be easy though as Kidderminster saw at the weekend, a late Fleet penalty made it 3-2 a set-up a tense finish which Kidderminster just about came out on top. Moving on the Steve Burr’s side they too face a relegation haunted side in Gateshead who perhaps are struggling due to their ground issues rather than the football they are playing.
Wins for both of those side (Wrexham and Kidderminster) will put them on 68 points and mean we’ll need all three points tomorrow to keep on the pressure, however we’ll still have games in hand plus Wrexham to play twice and as such shouldn’t worry too much about the outcomes of tonight’s encounters. At this stage of the season other than focusing on what you’re doing it’s probably best to try and get as much space as possible from those below – the fact that our main competitors play each other tonight is another thing that goes in our favour. In our opinion those classed as main competitors apart from those mentioned above are Newport, Grimsby and Forest Green – Newport tonight travel to seventh place Hereford, a side which need to win to keep up with those in the play-offs, whilst Grimsby and Forest Green lock horns at the latter, a draw or Forest Green win would be most welcome.
So tonight we simply straight back and watch the results filter in however we watch in the knowledge that whatever the outcomes tomorrow night will still be a tough encounter for the Stags. Woking were promoted back to the Blue Square Premier last term and are performing above expectation as they currently occupy tenth place with 48 points. Judging from interviews with Cardinals boss Garry Hill a second successive promotion is not the ambition this term but reaching the 50 point mark is and as such Stags should be wary of a Woking scalp as the Blue Square South champions have already beaten Luton, Forest Green and Newport this term, they’d love to add Mansfield to the list.
Once again in Saturday there may have been a few tired legs and a 1-0 scoreline against a side winless in 22 perhaps isn’t to convincing but that said the determination and all round attitude to win the game was present. These next few weeks are vital in the Stags season with Grimsby, Forest Green and Wrexham to play – fingers crossed the energy can be re-found tomorrow and the three point brought home.
LAST TIME WE MET
Tomorrow’s match will only be the fourth meeting between the two sides although the Stags did visit the Kingfield Stadium last term when they cemented their place in the play-offs by beating Hayes and Yeading United who share the ground with Woking.
In terms of playing Woking earlier this season Stags ran out 3-1 winners with the goals coming from Louis Briscoe, Matt Rhead and Jake Speight. Going further back the two sides met in Stags debut season in the conference, Woking beating Billy McEwan’s side in October 2008 before David Holdsworth’s side took a point from Woking in April 2009 as the game ended 2-2.
Stags boss Paul Cox will put John Dempster and Louis Briscoe through fitness tests before travelling tomorrow – Skipper Adam Murray is also said to be doubtful and with mid-fielder Anthony Howell defiantly out this could see a recall for either Jamie Tolley or Jamie Hand, the latter has spent the last two months playing on Woking’s pitch for Hayes and Yeading. Paul Cox is also said to be mulling over signing an additional midfielder as cover. Jake Speight and Ross Dyer are again definitely out.
Woking boss Garry Hill will be without the suspended Lee Sawyer but could hand a debut to striker Adam Francis who signed earlier on loan from QPR.
An old face will be making a guest appearance tomorrow night as Eastwood Town midfielder and Commercial Manager Scott Rogers joins Craig. The duo will bring you full match commentary from 7pm on Takeover 106.9FM and via our MM-LIVE page.
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