AFC Wimbledon trip is another chance for Mansfield Town to beat a play-offs rival for the first time

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray 'Pic by Dan Westwell.
Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray 'Pic by Dan Westwell.

Mansfield Town have another chance to finally beat one of their promotion rivals this season when they head back out on the road to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday after three successive home matches.

Despite a decent season so far and sitting just one point off the play-offs, the Stags have still to beat a side in the top half of the table and the Dons trip gives them another opportunity to get that particular monkey off their backs.

“I said in the press a few weeks ago that that is our next step,” said manager Adam Murray.

“We’ve drawn with a lot of the teams around us. We haven’t lost too many.

“If you can take points off these teams – draws or wins – then it always helps.

“We are in a great place. The next step for us is to try to beat the teams in and around us - that will get us in the play-offs.

“We’ve got 21 games left and you are probably looking at 10 or 11 wins in that to get yourself in the play-offs, which we believe we are capable of.”

He added: “What a difference a year makes. This time last year we were saying we probably needed nine or 10 wins to stay in the League, so it’s a different mindset this year. It’s a different challenge.

“We are looking at trying to achieve play-offs which in the space of 12 months is super.”

Stags will be happy to be back on the road, having struggled for wins at One Call Stadium all season, and Murray admitted that was another issue that had to change.

“The next step for us is to improve the home form like we did on Saturday and keep the away form going,” he said.

“Obviously we’ve had a lot of home games recently, it feels like it’s all been rolled into one, each game’s just gone into each game, so it’s nice to have a break and get into a different environment.”

The Dons have just won two on the bounce after a spell of indifferent results and now sit just three places and two points behind Mansfield.

There is also a real feelgood factor to contend with down there as, after years of exile, the Dons have just been told they can build a new stadium back in their home borough of Merton.

“It’s going to be a very tough game,” said Murray. “You look at their recent results and they’ve been decent. They’ve picked up some excellent points.

“I wouldn’t see them as a surprise package, though, and they will be one of the teams up there fighting for a play-off place at the end of the season.

“We have seen here at home that they are a strong outfit with lots of energy and physical in the right departments but probably get labelled with the physical tag a bit too much as some of the individuals they’ve got play great football. They mix it up well.

“But we believe when we are on our game and stick to our game plan then we can give anyone in this league a game – we have proved that now. We’ve proved there is no one in this league we fear or feel are miles ahead of us.

“We feel that on any given day, if we are on and all our players fit, then we can compete with anyone.”