Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans paid tribute to Newport County manager Graham Westley’s efforts to keep the Welsh club up ahead of Saturday’s clash at One Call Stadium.
But Evans knows his Stags side need to get back on track against the ever-improving bottom side in the Football League after only one point out of the last six saw Mansfield slip out the play-off places.
“It’s serious as we are at the business end of the season,” said Evans. “We’ve dropped out the play-offs on goal difference and playing catch-up is difficult.
“We know what we will get from a Graham Westley side and the first thing I will do is give him enormous credit.
“When he went in there they were pretty much sunk. I think he’s given them real hope and they’ve only lost one game in eight.
“I have looked back at the full re-run of their visit to Cambridge last week and there was only one decision the FA could make, which was to overturn the red card to young Mitchell Rose.
“If that’s not given and there is no penalty, it should have been a corner, then it’s a very credible draw at a very difficult place to go.
“I watched the extended highlights of their game against Morecambe in midweek and they should have been three or four nil up at one stage.
“But they ended up with a point. Enormous credit goes to Graham and it will be a tough ask.”
He added: “They have drawn with the likes of Doncaster etc in recent weeks so it shows this is a really difficult test for us.
“His teams have always been difficult to beat. He brings the right type of players into his football club that you can get at that level and size of club and he’s got the best he could get.
“They are fighting tooth and nail and we’ll have to be at our best to add to our points tally.”
Mansfield Town began the season in style with a 3-2 win at Newport. But things have changed hugely at both ends since that day.
“Everything is different now, different managers, different players, different coaching staffs so therefore it’s a different game,” said Evans.
“I think possibly if we were taking on the team we faced at the start of the season it would be quite comfortably a Stags win. But Graham has made the difference which has given them a real fighting chance of staying in the Football League.
“But we can’t concern ourself too much about their problems. We need to stay focused on our own situation and return to the type of form and displays that put us near those play-offs.
“There will be changes in the line-up. We need to win the game – that’s very clear. But we trust all our players in the dressing room.”
Evans will certainly need someone to play right back with Hayden White serving a one game ban, but said: “We have players that can play in that position. We have no issues about being able to cover that position.”
Evans’ immediate problem was getting his players through training as Storm Doris battered the One Call Stadium this morning.
He said: “It will affect training. With these conditions, if it was a Football League fixture and the referee turned up today he would have said it’s not safe for spectators.
“But we will go out on the grass and let the boys try their best.
“We have to go out there and practice as practise makes perfect.”