With home tickets heading for a sell-out, Stags boss Steve Evans has called on the Mansfield public to create a hostile cup atmosphere as Championship high-flyers Cardiff City come to town tomorrow night for the mouthwatering FA Cup third round replay.
With a home tie with Premier League leaders Manchester City at stake, interest in the all-ticket tie has been huge with just 250 tickets left for the home stands as of 2pm today.
Stags go into the replay as massive underdogs, despite their 0-0 draw at Cardiff and a run of only one loss in 20 games.
“Everyone is relaxed and looking forward to it. We all understand clearly what the prize could be if we win,” said manager Evans.
“But, let’s put this into perspective. This Cardiff side beat Sunderland 4-0 on Saturday.
“If Chris Coleman phones me up and offers me every one of those Sunderland players, they can play for me straight away – they are better than us. That’s the size of the task we face.
“But we are going to do our best. And we will be backed by a fantastic support as we normally are here at the One Call Stadium.
“It is going to be the best attendance in the home end for any game this season which is a fantastic response from the Mansfield public.
“There’s only two hundred or so tickets left. So if your granny’s not been out for a while, come on, bring her here. I am sure she’s got Mansfield right through the middle of her!”
Evans continued: “Let’s have a sell-out in the home end. It’s not going to be a sell-out in the away end as it’s a long way to come for Cardiff supporters in midweek against a club a couple of leagues below you. I understand that.
“But let’s make sure there’s not a spare seat in the home end. Let’s have the kids with a late day to school. Come on parents – get them out here!
“It’s not because we need 200 tickets sold. It’s because we want the stadium rocking and rolling and a really hostile, nasty cup atmosphere. Let’s give Warnock and his troops that when they arrive though, I repeat, in a sporting fashion.
“Every throw-in on the halfway line, every corner, every decision, let’s appeal for it, let’s contest it. Not just myself and the assistant manager.
“I know the players will appeal. Let’s have everyone behind us trying to get a positive result.”
Mansfield are under no illusions how good their opponents are, currently chasing hard for a Premier League place.
“This is a game against a Cardiff side who are third in the Championship and are having a great season under Neil Warnock,” said Evans.
“He’s paid good money in the summer and attracted good players.
“The job was not half-done by bringing Cardiff back to the One Call Stadium. It’s just an opportunity to beat a Championship club and progress to what would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of us.
“It’s a huge challenge. You look at the quality Neil has got.
“Sunderland may not be the best team in the Championship.
“But they are all Championship players and some of them have played in the Premier League. But they got taken apart on Saturday.
“I think he will make one or two changes from that team at the very most, if that. They will be ready for us. But we’ll be ready for them too.
“We have to give it our best on and off the pitch. We’ll win together or won’t win together. It’s a cup tie so there’s no coming back.
“I don’t have to think about if we’re going to get effort, passion and desire – that should already be in the bag.
“We need a little bit more care and composure when we get the ball which I thought we lacked a little at Cardiff. The players also need self-belief that they can win.
“We have some really talented players. When they get the ball at their feet they can give Championship players a problem.”
Evans stressed that most cup upsets came at the first time of asking rather than in a replay.
“Statistics tell you that you normally get one bite at the apple to beat the big boys,” he said.
“I have been fortunate if you look back at my cup runs ,we have normally done it in the first game.
“It’s more difficult when it becomes a second attempt. The higher placed team with the better players have another opportunity to look at you.
“But it’s not impossible You check the results and there are still some replay wins.
“By the biggest odds possible Cardiff are the favourites.”
He added: “We can pull it off. But we need Cardiff to not be at their level best.
“I am being quite frank. If Cardiff turn up and they are at their level best and at it then they will win.
“It doesn’t matter if we turn up at our level best. But if we are not at our level best we give ourselves no hope of progressing.
“It’s going to take our best performance since I came here, and probably a long time before it, to go through. It has all the hallmarks of a fantastic evening.”
Mansfield striker Kane Hemmings is back in training after a minor hamstring injury and Evans said: “Kane has a chance. We’ll leave that until tomorrow.”
All tickets bought in person at the ground or over the phone must be purchased by 5pm today (Monday).
Any remaining tickets can be bought online until midnight after which only disabled tickets can be purchased right up until kick-off.