Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft has ordered his players to ‘take care of business’ on Saturday while hoping on Morecambe doing him a favour for the second time in his managerial career.
Stags go into Saturday’s huge home clash with struggling Crawley Town three points adrift of the play-offs, but a win coupled with a defeat for either Lincoln City or Coventry City would see Stags steal back in there at the death.
Lincoln are at home to Yeovil, whom gutsy Mansfield beat 3-2 last weekend after twice trailing, while Coventry are at home to Morecambe, who need a win themselves to achieve safety.
It was Jim Bentley’s Shrimps who did a similar favour to Flitcroft to get his Bury side promoted in 2015, so the Stags manager knows all about how these tense final days can go.
“Funnily enough we needed Morecambe to beat Southend when we got promoted at Bury,” he said.
“I was convinced all week we would beat Tranmere - and we took care of our business at Tranmere. But we were still relying on Morecambe.
“I think at the time Southend had been on an unbelievable streak while Morecambe were not on a great run.
“But Jim Bentley committed to the game and they beat Southend 3-1.
“It was a result that came from nowhere and it was a day that will always live in my memory. It makes you understand the sincerity and honesty of League Two players.
“And, in Jim Bentley, you are probably looking at one of the most honest operators that you get in this league. He has been an unbelievable servant to Morecambe and they have profited from Jim’s work.
“I have no doubt that Jim will do the business on Saturday to hopefully put us in the driving seat.”
The stirring 3-2 win at Yeovil last weekend kept Stags in the hunt and Flitcroft said: “The way we finished the game on Saturday has now given us an opportunity to keep the season alive.
“From day one when the season started the objective was to get out the league via the play-offs or as one, two or three.
“We’re in with a fighting chance – it’s a three horse race and we are one of those teams.
“We just have to make sure the players understand the magnitude of the game. We have to take care of our business. We have no control over what happens elsewhere.
“Even though we’ll be keeping an eye on what’s happening at other grounds we’ve got to maintain our focus.”
He added: “We must make sure the environment we set this week is competitive so the players know exactly what’s at stake and we are a highly competitive team come Saturday.
“I want our players to share that sense of pride with the supporters after the game. We will get our business done on Saturday and make sure we are pristine in our work.
“We are creating a lot of chances and a god intensity – not for 90 minutes, but certainly in good stages of the game. In those moments we have to finish off teams.”
Despite the recent poor run of form, Mansfield have impressed in all the most important games and Flitcroft said: “I think we have already seen in my tenure, we have really shown up in the big games.
“Against Accrington we had a man sent off, but the lads turned up that day and we were one goal away from a good result.
“At Notts County we held our nerve for 97 minutes and Kane Hemmings stuck that penalty away - that takes nerve, that takes character, that takes bottle.
“A must-win game last Saturday and the boys won it. Chesterfield away – a must win game and the boys held their nerve.
“It’s testament to the players and the courage they’ve got.
“No games come bigger than this Saturday. We have to win it and take care of our business.
“Then we live in hope that the pressure - and being the last day and the magnitude of the pressure - does strange things to players.
“We’ve seen throughout football that in the last game there have at times been obscure results with the form book going out of the window.”
Flitcroft said they would keep abreast of the latest scores from Lincoln and Coventry during the 90 minutes on Saturday.
“You have to get the other scores fed through during the game,” he said.
“It might mean a change in formation or us committing something different to the attacking line.
“If it’s a tactical change we can get it on if something different is happening at another ground.
“We won’t take any focus away from what we are doing or the actual game. But it could make a slight difference.”
Stags must beat a fading Crawley side who have won just once in their last 11 games.
With the backing of a noisy One Call Stadium, Flitcroft is convinced they can do that.
“While I have been here the decibel levels and the energy the fans have created has been incredible – absolutely outstanding,” he said.
“It’s a compact stadium that energises noise and you can feel it on the back of your neck. When you’re stood in that dug out you can feel it vibrating from the stand.
“They’ve been with the team all season and now it’s just that one final push.”