As Swindon arrive at the One Call Stadium tomorrow, Mansfield Town need to do just one thing – recover, as individuals and as a team, to get their season back on track after a turbulent few weeks of performances.
Yes the Notts County derby-day victory is still recent and some will therefor argument my claim of ‘Turbulent few weeks’ – but let’s be honest, things go out of the window on Derby Day and that match a side, our performances haven’t been great for a fair few weeks now.
Swindon are a good side managed by the experienced David Flitcroft who knows exactly what it takes to get teams promoted from this level and compete higher up, after taking charge in the summer once a certain Steve Evans opted to stay with the Stags – he’s assembled a good squad and there an ‘all or nothing’ side who will be in the mix.
In League Two thus far we’re unbeaten at home and are fourth in the home form table for the last six matches – we’re making it difficult for teams to come and play us which is great, but if anyone have the quality to disrupt that, it’s Swindon – especially if we play the way we have been doing.
The silly mistakes have to stop, the energy levels have got to rise and the want and desire has also got to re-appear pretty sharpish ahead of a week where really, you need to be focussed and switched on with trips to Barnet and Newport within the next week to come.
Swindon play quickly from back to front but are very much a confidence team, reflected in the fact they’ve suffered heavy losses against the likes of Crawley (3-0) and Barnet (4-1) but in turn have comfortably beaten Luton and Stevenage – tomorrow is very much about who takes the front foot early.
If I were Steve Evans I’d be looking to mix things up, it’s risky but I’d be tempted with a 3-4-1-2 formation – bringing Rhys Bennett back into the fold alongside Pearce and Mirfin in the central role, a position he’d far better suited too for me – performing well as captain for the reserves against Rainworth and Grimsby in recent weeks in that role.
Going three at the back allows a little more expression in our play and if we get the midfield combination right, we’ll be able to push higher up and stay tight. Watching Swindon’s highlights, for me it seems like they struggle with pace and flair down the flanks – with that, I’d be tempted by CJ Hamilton. The wide man looked sharp in pre-season and, like Bennett, has impressed in the reserves – he deserves a shot, especially with the miles and games we’ve got coming up, fresh legs and flare are exactly what we’ve lacked.
To be fair, I can sit here all night and harp on about how we should play at Swindon’s weak-link, but the honest issue is Mansfield Town turning up and WANTING to win the game. That was the frustration last weekend and at Cheltenham, it needs to not become a problem – and sometimes when problems are becoming more regular, you just need to face them head on.
We do have the quality within the dressing room, it’s time to show it on the pitch and show the league exactly who we are. It’s a massive ask, BUT honestly I see no reason why we can’t come away from the next three games (Swindon, Barnet and Newport) with the maximum nine points and show some consistency and depth.
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