Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans has warned that bogey side Accrington Stanley will be a much higher mountain to scale than fellow strugglers Hartlepool United when they visit One Call Stadium tomorrow (7.45pm).
Unbeaten in eight League games, the Stags swept aside Hartlepool 4-0 to go into the top seven play-off places on Saturday, but Evans has no doubt that Stanley will cause them far more problems.
They certainly have done in recent years, Stags unable to win any of their last 11 League games against them and their last League win over them coming back in 1961 away from home and the last League win over them at Field Mill in 1960.
“They are a better team that Hartlepool in my opinion,” he said.
“I think Dave Jones (Hartlepool boss) has his work cut out. He’s like me, he’s just gone in there. But he didn’t get so much time to make a big difference, if any, in the transfer window.
“But Accrington Stanley have beaten the likes of Bradford this season, they’ve beaten Luton, and they drew with Carlisle. We got walloped by Carlisle, but they drew with them and should have beaten them.
“That was when Carlisle were in super form and not in the dip they are having now. It proves that Accrington have got some very tidy players.
“That tells you how tough it’s going to be tomorrow night and if any of my players are complacent then they will pay a price – that’s for sure.”
He continued: “Accrington are capable of beating any team in this league. I have just watched a full re-run of the game down at Portsmouth and Portsmouth scored in the first one and a half minutes and then it took them until 90+ to get second.
“Accrington were very much in that game in the second half on a counter-attack basis.
“This is an Accrington side under a very experienced gaffer, someone like me who has come through non-League and knows what it takes to put team together.
“I really respect our opponents tomorrow night and we are going to have to be at our best.
“I said to the players prior to the weekend, we have two mountains coming up and the highest of the mountains will be Tuesday.
“Now we have got over Saturday, this is a much sterner test on Tuesday.”
Centre half loanee Kyle Howkins will play for parent club West Brom’s U23 tonight but won’t be rushed back into the Mansfield squad tomorrow.
“We probably need to bring him in here and get a week’s training into him like we did last time before we can involve him,” said Evans.
“It will be the 18 players on duty on Saturday. Ashley Hemmings and Paddy Hoban come into contention of course and a young man from the U21s, Lewis Collins, who has been training with the first time for about two and half weeks now, and every day the kid is getting better.
“That’s good as we want people to challenge from within the squad, and of course from the youth below.
“We know how difficult it is to get into this top seven and we are in a little bit by default at the minute because Wycombe Wanderers have a game in hand.
“People will say they’ve not won it yet, but if they get the win we drop out of it.”
Supporters buying tickets for tomorrow night will get a free one for the visit of Newport County later this month in another tickets deal by chairman John Radford.