As Mansfield town prepare to head for Cheltenham Town FC, it’s the place barley just two miles from the ground which the Stags must draw their inspiration from – Cheltenham Racecourse, as the Stags must jump the hurdle, to keep on the winning track ahead of Saturday’s derby against Notts County, the current league leaders.
Notts County is of course one of the most anticipated games of the season, but before they go toe to toe, the Stags have the tough test of Cheltenham to face, a side who may not have had the best of starts, but are very capable of upsetting the odds.
Great race winners maintain their focus, their composure even when they start to tire, something the Stags must do if they’re able to continue their, thus far, unbeaten September.
Gary Johnson is an excellent manager and will have his side fired up to face Steve Evans men, who it’s fair to say, we’re very below par on Saturday at home to Cambridge. The Stags can’t afford a repeat performance on that front and as such, I feel changes may be a foot.
Having only just escaped the drop into the conference last season, the Robins will be looking to pull themselves away from the bottom and in the last two games have done that slightly with a win and a very credible draw at Accrington – we all know how hard a task that is!
It’s always a tough fixture against Cheltenham, if anything they’re a toughest test than Notts County – the latter will be hungry to build on momentum and will be riding on the crest of a wave, to them a positive result tomorrow in their long trip to second placed Exeter and Saturday is a foregone conclusion – where as Cheltenham are scrappy, they’ll know a good result against ourselves could really kick start their season.
This is where we must be ruthless, we must go to Cheltenham and play them at their own game – be scrappy and fight for everything, if we get a couple of goals we’ll start to deflate them and be able to exploit that weakness.
It’s going to be a horrible night most likely with rain – this is where you’ll start to see the characters in the dressing rooms come out. Who fancies a wet Tuesday night in Cheltenham, who fancies fighting the biting cold to bring home the points, who is going to stand up and be counted for those supporters who’ve made the trip – and those glued to their speakers and smart phones back home?
At this stage of the season, it’s as much about mindset as it is performance – seven years ago today, John Radford took over as the clubs Chairman and owner – the transformation in that time has been nothing short of breath-taking, simply because he didn’t chuck the towel in when we we’re facing midweek trips to Gateshead, when we we’re getting beaten by Hayes and Yeading or when off the pitch factors also started to rare their ugly head. The players need perhaps to be told that story tomorrow, because on the pitch we need that never say die attitude – to allow us in this marathon of a season, to be a winner at the races.
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