Rivals aiming to halt goal droughts on Saturday

Mansfield Town Assistant Paul Raynor 
Picture by Dan Westwell

Mansfield Town Assistant Paul Raynor Picture by Dan Westwell

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Promotion rivals Mansfield Town and Carlisle United go head to head at One Call Stadium on Saturday both hoping to end lengthy goal droughts and get their bids back on track.

The Stags have not scored in their last four games and the Cumbrians are without a goal in five, but Mansfield’s assistant boss Paul Raynor is reading nothing into Carlisle’s recent form, saying: “That goes out the window on Saturday.

Click HERE to read about Stags’ thoughts on the goal drought

Click HERE to read our Big Match Preview

Click HERE to read Steve Evans’ thoughts on Carlisle

“They are a good side and they’ve got some good attacking players. Teams do go through this little run. We had a period where everything we touched turned to gold. It happens like that.

“We can’t disrespect Carlisle. They’ve got some good players and they had a good result on Tuesday night.”

The Cumbrians were held to a 0-0 home draw by promotion rivals Luton Town, but Raynor said: “We watched the footage of that yesterday and they played some cracking stuff and were probably unfortunate not to come away with a victory.

“So they’ll come here with a bit of confidence.

“They are up there challenging as well. So let’s forget about these no goals records. It will be an entertaining game with two good teams trying to play good football.”

The game marks another return to his old club for former Stags boss Keith Curle.

“They’ve got a good manager and he will certainly be up for coming to his former club,” said Raynor.

“He was a very good coach before that at Sheffield United. We know Keith very well. He knows this division very well.

“We are under no illusions – it’s going to be a tough game, but what a good game to get back on track, get three points, and get right back in amongst it.”

Carlisle have struggled for goals since the departure of top scorer Charlie Wyke to Bradford City in January.

But Raynor said: “They still have good threats in attacking areas.

“We know Nicky Adams well from our time at Rotherham. He is a good player.

“Reggie Lambe is obviously well known to the Mansfield fans, and they have brought the boy (George) Waring in as well. So they’ve got a number of threats – Jamie Proctor as well who has done very well in this division over a number of years.

“They are a good all-round team. They play good football – they like to get it down and play. It has the makings of a great game of football in League Two.”

The four winless games without a goal have seen Stags slide to 10th, five points off the pace, with only nine games to go. But Raynor said: “We are certainly not giving up on it at all. We are in there with a shout.

“We are frustrated and disappointed at the results, but not the performances.”

However, he insisted Saturday was not a must-win fixture.

“We’d like to win it – it’s an important game,” he said.

“But I don’t think it’s a must-win game as we’ll still be in with a chance if it didn’t go right for us. But we have got to start accumulating some points.

“We can’t keep saying great performance, but no points.

“I don’t think the fans would appreciate it, but we’d take a scrappy 1-0 victory now.

“We need to get back in touch with the top seven and, if we do, we fancy ourselves against anybody.”

After recent disappointing results the Stags came back in to find other results had gone their way and they remained eighth. But results were not to kind to them this week.

“In recent weeks they have gone our way a little bit,” admitted,” said Raynor.

“We’ve gone back in the dressing room and still been sitting in eighth only a couple of points off it.

“But you can’t not keep winning and expect everyone else to do you a favour. We’ve got to do that ourselves and not worry too much about other teams.

“The performances have been excellent, particularly with the ball.

“You can always pick fault with goals conceded and we weren’t overjoyed with the two we conceded on Tuesday night as we felt we could have dealt with those a lot better.”

Raynor said he didn’t think there would be too many changes on Saturday.

“We have been delighted with the level of performance so I don’t think it will be massive changes, but we will have a look at it over the next couple of days’ training and see who is looking fresh and sharp,” he said.

“We are down to the nitty gritty – we are counting down the games now.

“If we’d have said, walking in through the door sitting in 18th place, that we’d now be five points off the play-offs and in contention, then people would have snapped your hands off. We’re in with a shout.

“We need to start winning games and, if we do, we’ll be up there challenging.

“It’s a crucial period of the season and exciting. We’re looking forward to it.”