John Lomas’ Stags blog: Don’t panic, just make more noise!

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Lance-Corporal Jones’ famous Dad’s Army catchphrase of ‘don’t panic’ seems particularly apt at One Call Stadium right now.

An avoidable 3-2 home defeat by Exeter City on Saturday sent Stags slumping to within a point of the drop zone and supporters reaching for the nerve-calming tablets in their medicine cabinet.

For the first time since promotion, despite previous slumps, the proximity to the bottom and the faint draught of cold air coming up from the Conference trapdoor has rightly raised genuine fears.

Under no circumstances must Mansfield Town be allowed to slip through it again as it could be a relegation from which the club never recovers.

But, despite the usual suspects incredibly and laughably already shouting ‘sack Murray’ on social media, let’s not forget it’s only January and we have a whole new-look side to bed in.

Murray has not only tried to change the style of play to become more pleasing on the eye, he has also gone out and brought in players with League Two experience. Players who have been successful at this level.

Coupled with the cream of what was already here, it is surely a potentially successful mix and gives the club the best chance of heading upwards.

With so many new faces arriving at once, it was always asking too much for it to gel overnight.

But, after so many months this season of being shot-shy and failing to score or even create many chances, that area looks to be completely sorted now.

Only exceptional defending by Exeter and sheer bad luck stopped Mansfield winning last weekend’s game out of sight such was the weight of pressure they inflicted and chances they created.

On another day Stags would have walked off with three points under their belts and a handful of goals to remember.

Instead a couple of moments of dire defending cost them dearly.

With Ryan Tafazolli on his way back and, hopefully John Dempster further down the line, there should be enough competition in that department to ensure players think twice and get those frailties sorted.

I felt so sorry for young loanee keeper Adam Smith on Saturday.

He had an excellent game yet ended up picking the ball out of the net three times and was also forced into giving away the match-winning penalty by Martin Riley’s awful backpass.

But he does look a good keeper and Leicester team mate Callum Elder also blossomed after a subdued debut at Burton, able to pick a pass, and willing to get forward and join in as well as defend. He’s no Exodus Geohaghon, but his long throw is also very useful.

Ricky Ravenhill gave an all-action display in central midfield and looks assured but will feel his afternoon may have lost some of its edge after taking an early booking.

Talented striker Billy Kee still looks short of fitness and didn’t have the best of games, despite getting off the mark, which will have done him the world of good.

There were other good chances he failed to bury and, having held the ball up well, his lay-offs found more Exeter players than Mansfield.

But we all know what he can do and once he gets in tune with his new team mates I think he could end up being a massive favourite at the One Call with double figures of goals to his name.

The other new face, Matty Blair, had little opportunity to shine after coming on as a substitute and we will find out what he has in his locker in the coming weeks.

Paul Cox warned pre-season that this would be a tough season with the reduced budget.

But his successor, Murray, has planted the seeds of recovery with these new signings and now just needs to see them bloom and blossom game by game.

But it’s not just about the players.

Thankfully a few more supporters turned out than usual last weekend, taking advantage of the club’s £7 advance ticket offer, though it was a shame to see them fail to crack the 4,000 mark.

Unfortunately, on a cold afternoon, the noise from the stands took until after half-time to warm up.

The first half atmosphere was decidedly flat and didn’t help matters.

Doubtless some fans will bring it back to the chicken and egg situation of ‘give us something to shout about and we will’, while players will say ‘shout and we will do our best to reward your backing’.

Somehow for home games, supporters need to find a way to get excited and create an atmosphere at kick-off which would help their players and make it a hostile environment for the visitors.

Whether that’s the choice of music over the tannoy, drummers, a full band, or free shots of whisky on the turnstiles (it won’t happen), anything that can crank fans up from the word go would be a massive boost to the club’s survival hopes.

League Two leaders Wycombe Wanderers will provide a stern test on Saturday.

But, for those who saw them at Wycombe, we all know they are good – but not that good.

Perversely Stags often seem to flop when they put on an offer that draws a bigger crowd in but, when nothing is expected of them against a top side, they often seem to win the game. That augers well for Saturday.

With a big six-pointer ahead at relegation rivals Carlisle a week later, a win this weekend would be a massive and unexpected boost.

February then sees four out of six game at home which could changes things drastically if fans and players produce what we all know they can at the same time.