JOHN LOMAS’ STAGS BLOG: Pressure on for Mansfield Town to start beating promotion rivals

John Lomas. Mansfield chad.
John Lomas. Mansfield chad.

With just 13 games to go, I feel Mansfield Town are going to need to end their inability to beat play-off rivals if they are to gatecrash post-season play and challenge for League One.

Stags have a fantastic record against sides in the bottom half of the table this season and last weekend’s 3-2 home win over bottom club Dagenham & Redbridge took them to the 51-point mark - a figure that should already be enough to avoid the bookies’ pre-season tip of relegation - with almost three months left to go.

But it is an incredible statistic that they have still not beaten any side in the top half of the table all season and we are almost into March.

It is all very tight up there, Stags proudly and defiantly sat in fifth, two points clear of seventh spot.

However, they are only five points clear of 12th-placed Carlisle United and a couple of slip-ups could see them rapidly lose ground. There really is little margin for error.

Saturday’s win was the first of three matches against bottom five five sides with Adam Murray’s men more than capable of winning all three, though a point from Newport County away this Saturday would be a respectable result too.

However, after that, when the heat is really on, the last 11 games include six against sides currently in 1st, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 12th places plus a tough Tuesday night trip to Exeter City and a home local derby against Notts County.

So it is going to be a big ask to stay with the pace and will see Stags defy the odds even more than they have so far to do so.

But the promising thing is that it’s defying the odds, answering the critics and proving people wrong that has motivated them to where they are now.

So that feeling will intensify with every game as they continue to defy expectations and stay with the pace set by the big-spending clubs around them.

Adam Murray’s stock continues to rise by the week as a new, young English manager – and if the whole adventure peters out, it will still have been an exhilarating season few Stags fans dared hope for.

Amazing again then that a handful of home fans still found it in them to shout at Murray that he should quit the club when he walked off 1-0 down at half-time on Saturday.

I am guessing these people’s pint glasses have never been half-full in their lives?

Stay strapped tightly into that rollercoaster folks as we are just about to come over the top of the biggest and final loop of a great season.