It will be an agonising night for Mansfield Town tonight as they sit it out on an evening when almost every other League Two club is in action.
A late 1-0 defeat at Newport County on Saturday saw Stags slip out the play-off berths into ninth, but still only two points separate fifth from 10th and boss Adam Murray continues to maintain the chase will go down to the last day.
Stags brought tonight’s scheduled home game to Stevenage forward to a blank weekend in January and won it 1-0.
“We’ve got the points on the board,” said Murray. “So the teams tonight have got to win. It’s worked in our favour.
“It’s incredible. We are just one point off fifth. But we can’t be relying on other people. We have 12 games left and if we win 12 we’ll go up.
“If we’re not ruthless in this last 12 games we won’t achieve. If we can do what I believe we can do I honestly believe we’ll be up there.
“It’s a good night of football. It will make the points a bit clearer. The good thing is we’ve got to play these teams still.”
Murray added: “I am not really interested how results go tonight. If we take care of our business we will be in there. That’s the bottom line.
“People have got to lose football matches as they’ve all got to play each other. So as long as we do our business it doesn’t really matter what goes on.
“The key for us is to keep believing. We have to wins games. We have 12 left and we have to go for it and see where we end up.
“It goes to show how close the league is as three dropped out the play-offs and three went in on Saturday. This will go down to the wire.
“We said it last year at the other end of the table and it will be same this year at both ends. I think it will literally be the last day.
“I know people have said how teams have games in hand. But there are only one or two now and we’ve got to play all of them.
“So it’s going to be close. It will be tough for us, we understand that.
“But, like we said a few weeks ago, we’ve had a great season up until now. “We know we’re doing above what was expected. But we are that close and I really believe we can do this.
“We’ve just got to keep going and the boys have go to keep believing how good they can be.”
Murray knows if they are to reach the play-offs, Stags will need to end their current statistic of not having beaten a side in the top half of the table yet all season with March arriving today
“The good thing for us, and we know we’ve got to change our trends, is we’ve still got to play the other teams around us,” said Murray.
“What a great time to change it as I think that if we take points off them we’ll be in the mix. That’s the plan.”
On the points Stags might need to get into the top seven, he added: “I thought it would be more a few weeks ago – I honestly did.
“But now the teams at the bottom six or seven have started picking up and getting results you can’t tell where it’s going.
“I had it down as a certain number of wins a few weeks ago but that’s changed again. You just don’t know. In this league right now you can’t predict scores.
“There are that many teams on a level playing field it’s the fine lines that make a difference, like for us on Saturday.
“We should have had two penalties, we’ve had a goal offside which again was tight and could have gone either way, we’ve hit the post, and we’ve had probably three chances where we at least need to work the keeper properly.”
Stags are currently in ninth place, one point off fifth and only one point off the final seventh place play-off spot.
Mansfield have played more games than anyone in the top 10 with Accrington having three games in hand on them.
If Accrington maintain their current push the top four places could get sewn up early which would leave Portsmouth (32 games, 52 points), Wycombe (32, 52), Leyton Orient (33, 52), AFC Wimbledon (32, 51), Stags (34, 51), Bristol Rovers (32, 50), Carlisle United (31, 49) and Cambridge United (33, 47) all in the hunt for the last three places.
Tonight Bristol Rovers are at home to strugglers Hartlepool, there are crunch games at Cambridge, with Wycombe the visitors, and at Carlisle, where Leyton Orient are in town, AFC Wimbledon face the hardest task away to leaders Northampton, while Portsmouth are at Exeter.
Saturday’s visitors Yeovil Town face a visit from in-form Accrington.