Underdogs Mansfield Town head to Doncaster Rovers for Saturday’s derby with no fear and nothing to lose, says manager Steve Evans.
Stags can spoil the party, but Evans said the ideal outcome of the day would be a Mansfield win with other results still conspiring to confirm Rovers’ promotion.
Stags’ first ever visit to the Keepmoat Stadium sees them four points off the play-offs with six games to go and Evans said: “They don’t get any bigger than going away to the league leaders, who look likely to get promotion.
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“The facts are we can go there and win and Doncaster can still be promoted on Saturday night – that would be the perfect scenario for me.
“I don’t think anyone in this division would relish going to Doncaster on Saturday. We are probably the exception to the rule.
“We have nothing to lose. They are playing to win promotion. They don’t want it to be going to next week when they had the champagne on ice.
“It’s a great game for us to be involved in. We know what the prize if for us – to keep ourselves in contention for the play-offs – and the prize for Doncaster Rovers is to be promoted to League One. That is going to happen – it’s only a question of when it happens.”
Evans has long been convinced Doncaster would win the title this season.
“I saw Doncaster before I came back into football in August and September and I remarked to the people we were with that I thought we’d just watched the champions,” he said.
“You need a recipe. The recipe is good players, a good management team, a solid club and some good supporters behind you. At Doncaster Rovers they’ve got that.
“The had the most extraordinary season last season you could ever imagine. To see them get relegated when they were comfortably a mid-table side, Darren must have felt that he’d run over four black cats, not one.
“But he took his pain and now he’s taking the gain. He’s built a wonderful side.
“They are the best in the league by some distance. Other managers around that top three or four will probably lay claim that on a good day they are as good.
“Well from a neutral point of view, they’re not. The best players in the main, though not all, are at Doncaster.
“The manager is up there with the best in the league too. His experience will have played a part, certainly since the turn of the year, and fair play to him.”
He added: “They sign good players then they play in a way that suits the style they have.
“Darren is not a 4-4-2 man or a 4-3-3 man, he varies it. But he likes to get it down and pass the ball through the lines. He likes to sign creative players and in both boxes he’s got it right.
“Up top they are particularly strong. It’s why they can go to Grimsby and score five and probably on another day that could have been 10.”
However, Evans pointed out: “But we’ve got good players and we have a way we need to play on Saturday to win the game.
“It’s going to be tough – we’re not kidding ourselves. They will have lots of the ball. So we need to make the most of our opportunities when we’ve got the ball.
“First and foremost we need to defend properly when we are out of possession.”