Craig Priest previews tomorrow’s trip to The Lamb Ground...
Only two weeks ago I found myself sitting here writing the preview for our home fixture with tomorrow’s opponents Tamworth, it’s funny how quickly mood can change! Prior to the game we we’re sat in 9th despite the 5-2 victory over troubled Darlington midweek, many had labelled the game as another catch up fixture and probably hadn’t began to think about a final dash towards the play-offs – but now? Sat in 5th place on level points with York (above us by goal difference only) and four points behind third placed Luton, we are really in the hunt and with the aforementioned duo in FA Trophy action, tomorrow is a key game. Add into the mix the fact we secured ownership of Field Mill in the two weeks between the game and have picked up a further two 2-1 victories – times are good at Mansfield Town Football Club.
Sounding like a kill-joy once more, I again echo the words of Paul Cox in taking things one game at a time, the strategy of enjoying things with no stress affecting us is certainly getting the results, this has to be the case again tomorrow both within the dressing room and on the terracing, which we will no doubt pack. One thing the Stags boss did say at Thursday’s press meeting was that tomorrow’s game is the ‘biggest game of our season so far’ – a statement I can’t argue with as I break my own rule and keep one eye on our next fixture, Fleetwood at home. With Luton and York taking each on in the FA Trophy it gives us real opportunity to climb up to 4th and put pressure on the chasing pack, which points wise tomorrow is only Southport and Kidderminster (playing tonight away to Fleetwood), however Gateshead (4 points behind us in 8th – away at Braintree), Grimsby (6 points behind us in 9th WITH a game in hand over us – at home to Forest Green) and Barrow (6 points behind us in 10th having played one game MORE – away at Wrexham), are all still the realistic ones in the hunt. Victory tomorrow would give us some breathing space and ease the pressure on Tuesday night, the first of our final ten games following tomorrow’s game at the lamb.
Looking at our last ten fixtures, we have been very productive in gaining ground – picking up 23 points from a possible 30, winning seven (Forest Green, Hayes & Yeading, Ebbsfleet, Darlington, Tamworth, Lincoln and Cambridge), drawing two (York and Luton) – losing just one (Newport). If we can pick up victory tomorrow, our record in our last ten would move our point’s collection up to 25 from a possible 30. As it stands our form is joint 3rd best in the league, with only the title contenders Wrexham and Fleetwood bettering it with 24 and 28 respectively – Grimsby are the only team to match us on 23 points from their last ten games winning seven, drawing twice and losing once – the latter at the hands of Fleetwood on Tuesday evening, ending a 15 game unbeaten run which could prove the blow which physiologically kills the mariners play-off hopes.
I may regret sharing that information as it may lead to us becoming complacent, however in Paul Cox we have a manager who has been in this situation many a time and knows how not only to manage the lads mindset, but get the best out of them so the form is replicated in those final key games. In football winning breads confidence as does a good run of form – we are unbeaten in four having picked up four consecutive victories. In football loosing breads negativity and whilst some teams, ourselves included, are able to pick themselves up – as is the case of Tamworth who out of their last ten have lost six drawn two and won two – if we grab a couple of early goals the mindset of the Lambs may lead to a slaughtering... something we are more than capable of, that said, the two draws have come against York and Fleetwood, who as we know are up there alongside ourselves – which is another reason as to why Paul Cox’s statement is very true, tomorrow’s game is our biggest so far and once again, we should concentrate on today before thinking about tomorrow.
Looking at how Tamworth fare when going behind will tell you that they have only come back to win two of the 20 games they have trailed, clawing back five draws and being condemned to 13 defeats, on the flip side in the 14 games they’ve opened the scoring they’ve gone onto to victory nine times, been pegged back to three draws and gone on to lose just two, including the fixture at Field Mill two weeks ago. Coming from behind to win seems to be our specialist subject this season, the win at Cambridge Tuesday was the seventh time we’ve trailed and gone onto win, drawing two and losing four of the 13 games in which we have conceded first.
None of this really matters, not at this stage of the season – our ability, determination, performance and most importantly mindset – will be what decides our fate in the end. Tomorrow is a key game in our season, there is no hiding the fact – but again I stress the importance of keeping our eyes firmly on ourselves, what others do for us will boil down to luck – let’s one again just take each game as it comes and remember that ‘Under estimation and over confidence will be our greatest down fall’. Get down to the Lamb tomorrow, pack the away end – make some noise and again spur the lads onto victory.
In team news new addition Danny Andrews, who signed on emergency loan from Cheltenham earlier today until the end of the season, will be available for selection, hopefully along with Skipper Adam Murray who was back training properly on Thursday. Adam Smith will defiantly miss out whilst John Thompson, Sam Craven and Matt Bell are also unlikely to feature, the trio are fit, but not match fit.
If you can’t get, join myself and the returning Scott Rogers for FULL MATCH COMMENTARY on the fixture, going live on our MM-LIVE page from 2.50pm – following build up on 106.9FM from 2pm, where our commentary will also be streamed.
Last Time Out:
As mentioned at the top of the piece, the sides last met at Field Mill two weeks ago with the Stags running out 2-1 victors, strikes from Adam Smith and Matt Green over turned the deficit following Jean Paul-Marna’s excellent 52nd minute half volley.
Previous history tells you the sides had never locked horns since Mansfield dropped out of the football league, Mansfield have been the better of the two sides, being defeated by Tamworth just once, winning three – two of which being at The Lamb, a ground where the Stags have never lost.
Stags 2-1 Tamworth 25th February 2012 - Line Up: [4-4-2] Marriott, O'Neill, Geohaghon, Sutton, Edwards, Briscoe, Murray (C) (Howell), Roberts, Meikle (Smith ), Dyer (Rhead), Green . SNU Redmond, Riley
Highlights: Commentary from Craig Priest and Wayne Briggs
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