As the Stags prepare to welcome Football League newcomers Forest Green Rovers to the One Call Stadium, following a draw and a defeat in games which the Stags arguably dominated – the anticipation to bag three bags of coal is certainly building around the fire.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a ‘must win’ game at this stage of the season, but just to settle the early nerves of doubt and silence the early whispers that we may not be quite what league two expected us to be.
Forest Green are a good side, they didn’t win promotion for nothing, they’re had to beat and as they proved in midweek against MK Dons, will put up a fight – if anything we’re the ones on the back foot tomorrow, with our ex-conference opponents eager to remove that ‘conference side’ tag – let’s not be arrogant here either, we know how difficult a tag that is to shift – in some ways, we’re still doing it.
Similar to us, FGR have a committed chairman who has spent wisely building the club up, they have good facilities down there which despite the trek, actually appeals to players. Boss Mark Cooper is no fool and has excellent knowledge of the lower leagues which has shown in his dealings thus far. We all know what a talent Lee Collins is, whilst all other recruitment has been players from a higher division – Luke James is an excellent addition from Peterborough and any Football Manager addicts will know what Charlie Cooper is capable of.
Back to reality and Steve Evans is working hard to try and recruit that missing link, with the club rumoured to be tabling a ‘club record’ bid for a striker. Whilst the dealings happen off the pitch, on it – winger and Tuesday’s skipper Paul Anderson says the players are focussed on getting a positive start on home turf "Every game in the league is going to be a tough game – it's going to be a long season and we need to get that first win as soon as possible,"
"Hopefully it'll be this weekend, I'm sure the manager will have in his thoughts what he's looking to do. We're not going to be worried about Forest Green; we're going to be focussing completely on ourselves and hopefully the three points will be ours and the fans will really see what we're trying to do.”
"I think the fans who have been to the games will see that we've got something very good here and we're creating a lot of opportunities and once one or two go for us, we'll hit the ground running."
Personally I think the Stags have finished very strong in both games, playing with a lot of intensity and hunger, let’s find a way to channel that from the very first whistle tomorrow and I think with that, three points will be staying with Mansfield Town.
One thing I’m eager to see us avoid is arrogance, Forest Green are now a Football League side who, after years of trying – finally found a way out… rings a bell right! Over confidence and underestimation will always prove our biggest downfall – let’s NOT let that happen!
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