Craig Priest Writes...
The business end of the season used to be a stroll in the sunshine, a mere case of rubber stamping fixtures and preparing for the following season – this term though it’s a tough gruelling schedule which continues tomorrow, the first of two away trips in three days.
Tomorrow is arguably the bigger of the two fixtures as we finally travel to FA Trophy Champions Wrexham after two previous postponements, the game of course prime opportunity to reach the top as it’s our first game in hand on Kidderminster. Personally I think Barrow’s the tougher test but we’ll cross that bridge on Friday!
Earlier I went down to the One Call to watch the reserves and had the miss-pleasure of over hearing a conversation between two fans, who were categorically adamant that a win tomorrow night at Wrexham would, and I quote, win us the league. Call me a killjoy, call me Mr Negative etc if you like but mathematically it does NOT and the arrogant tone in the statement needs to disappear sharpish. I agree that on principal a win tomorrow will take us top with a better goal difference and by two points with as many games in hand, if we were to keep on winning, we’d be champions no matter what Kidderminster do. Thing is, six games is a long way, longer than what you think – a title is not won on assumptions, it is not won on guess work, it is won however by focus, hard work and a massive dose of being humble and gracious.
Wrexham are a tough side and despite a few poor league results, one win and two defeats in five games, will still pose a tough test. Their own title ambitions are all but over for a third consecutive season, ten points behind ourselves in fourth Andy Morrell’s side are suffering their usual end of season slump – however this time around they have the taste of the FA Trophy success and that may prove enough of a catalyst to a much needed U-turn in form.
Personally I think it will be one of the toughest battles we’ve faced in a long while and the game alone could provide more twists and turns that the title chase itself, again those going will be a key factor – the noise level has to be high and constant, why? Because it’s what we do to win, simple. Keep on doing what we do, that’s all we have to do to become champions.
Wrexham have some good quality players and despite their recent bad run, they’ll fight for every ball and have that venom in every challenge – there is nothing worse than watching something you desire slip through your own hands, with the past faltering Wrexham will be doing all they can to ensure they don’t suffer a repeat.
There’s little else to be said in terms of the football, as mentioned above it’s about winning. I also believe at this critical stage of the season, mind-set plays a huge play. John Radford has given permission and provided funding for an extended weekend away for the boys, not only will this aid in keeping that tight nit togetherness but it will also help keep the players legs fresh. There’s nothing worse than coach travel for hour upon hour and getting cramp, not ideal if you’re getting home at gone mid-night and back in for a light session at 8am and the same again the next day. By staying over in Wrexham (or close by any way) it allows extra recuperation and a more relaxed way of dealing with the tough schedule, by my watch the extended stay over for Stags saves them (from ground to ground) an estimated 266.8 miles travelling and five & a half hours on the road!
Fingers crossed the stay-over works, no place for compliancy or arrogance – the only room we have spare is for three points tomorrow in Wrexham and the same again on Saturday.
LAST TIME WE MET
These two promotion rivals and relegation friends last met last term in Stags’ final home game of the season. Wrexham, above Stags in second, looked tired, without fight and un-interested. Anthony Howell headed the Stags ahead from Geohaghon’s throw before Alan Marriott netted THAT infamous goal.
In the reverse fixture at the Racecourse Ground in late September Stags ran out 3-1 winners in what proved to be a tough and tight encounter during which both teams saw a player dismissed.
In total the sides have met 85 times down the years a relationship which begin back in 1932. Wrexham have recorded 31 wins to Mansfield’s 33 and have netted 121 goals to our 127 in total. Meanwhile at Wrexham Stags have only recorded seven victories to Wrexham’s 20 which includes the dragon’s FA Trophy first round triumph in 2008 in terms of goals at Wrexham the welsh side lead 73-38.
Another successful game for the reserves today gives Paul Cox a headache; add into the mixing bowl the outstanding display from Anthony Howell on Monday. Cox though will have to suffer the headache with all of his players fit for selection bar the usual absentees.
Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourself for a night of twists, turns and nail biting! If you can’t make the match then be sure you log on to our MM-Live page from 7pm, I’ll bring you build up including highlights from the bank holiday weekends fixtures, plus FULL MATCH COMMENTARY on the match itself – allowing you to have your say throughout the night.
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