Mansfield Town midfield general Neal Bishop said the Stags have no fear of Saturday’s high-flying visitors MK Dons and stressed the need to start putting back-to-back wins together.
The Dons have won five in a row to go second and are seven unbeaten.
But the Stags are now seven games unbeaten in all competitions and the 1-0 win at Morecambe saw them chalk up a second successive clean sheet to join the Dons as boasting the division’s two meanest defences.
“Getting back-to back wins is massive,” stressed Bishop.
“It’s something we need to do. All successful teams do it throughout the course of a season.
“We are putting pressure on ourselves to do that. The win at Morecambe has got to be a catalyst now to go on a good run and get ourselves up to where we believe we should be
“You look at any division – if you put together two, three, four wins on the bounce and you’re up there.
“I checked the league table a few weeks ago and MK Dons were mid-table. They’ve won five on the bounce and are now second.”
Stags’ only League Two defeat all season came at home to Exeter City and Bishop expects MK to be even tougher opponents.
“For me Exeter were probably the best team we’ve come up against and I thought we dominated them for the first 20-25 minutes,” he said.
“If we’d got our noses out in front that would have been a completely different story.
“I expect MK to be at a similar level if not a little bit better. But we have to raise ourselves to the occasion. We are at home and we don’t fear anyone.
“That’s no disrespect to MK or anyone in this league. But when we are at home on the front foot, getting about teams, we are more than a match for anyone.
“That’s what we will be looking to do on Saturday – get the crowd right behind us, get on the front foot and make things happen.”
Bishop has a lot of respect for the way the Dons have tried to stick to their footballing philosophies, despite going on a downward spiral of late.
“Whenever I have played MK Dons over recent seasons they have wanted to get the ball down and play good football,” he said.
“Obviously we’ve showed a lot of times this season that’s how we want to play the game. So hopefully it will be an attractive game for the people who come down to watch it.
“But we are not bothered about the attractiveness of games and pretty football. We are bothered about results. That’s the industry we are in and, however we can get the points on Saturday, that’s what we’ll do.”
He added: “MK had their troubles last season. But they were still a good footballing side both times we played them (when he was with Scunthorpe United).
“I think we drew, then beat them at their place later on in the season.
“But they have principles that haven’t changed over the last five, six, seven years.
“Their chairman has got a vision of how he wants the club to play and he brings in managers accordingly to get that. That’s all credit to them.
“They have had a bit of a setback – they were in the Championship not long ago. But they are a good club with ambition and, like us, will be looking to get out of this division this season.
“Obviously we are going to want to be getting on the front foot as the home team on Saturday and create chances.
“But I am sure they will be coming here with other ideas.”
Bishop, back from a one-game ban and injury, grabbed the only goal of the game in Tuesday’s night’s triumph at Morecambe, four days after 10-men Stags had fought hard for a 0-0 draw at Swindon.
“I got the goal on Tuesday, but the win is always the most important thing, especially on the back of the lads battling for a point on Saturday,” he said.
“That was fantastic with 10 men and three points at Morecambe made it look even better.
“We thoroughly deserved it and, again, it could have been more. But we’ll take a clean sheet and a win.”
Bishop found the net from just outside the box after an out-swinging Otis Khan corner curled back into his path.
“I can’t say it’s a corner we’ve worked on in training but I saw it coming all the way,” he smiled.
“Their lad’s took a gamble and missed it and I’ve had a lot of time to pick my spot. I just concentrated on keeping it down and hitting the target. Fortunately for me it went in.
“On Tuesday when we had to dig in we did and when we had to show composure on the ball we did. I think we married the two together well.
“The wind was terrible and when the ball was in the air it was a lottery where it would come down.
“So I think we played really well in the conditions. It was a really solid away performance.”
He added: “Looking at our clean sheets, the back lads have been fantastic. But, as we saw on Tuesday, the lads up top start it off by defending from the front.
“They are making sure no one has time to pick a pass which takes the pressure off us at the back.
“The clean sheets are not just for the back three or four and goalkeeper – they’re for the whole team.
“If we can marry that with a few more goals we will certainly be looking forward to a positive last three quarters of the season.”