Steve Evans was full of praise for opposite number Darren Ferguson’s achievements at Doncaster Rovers this season as the Stags prepare to try to delay the Yorkshire club’s promotion celebrations this Saturday.
Ferguson looks set to take Rovers back up at the first time of asking and Evans admitted:“I said it back at Christmas time, and nothing changes, they have one of the best managers in the lower leagues.
“He is someone I know reasonably well. I know what his teams are about – I come up against them enough.
“But he has got wonderful players. His recruitment last summer was fantastic and a lot of their work done in getting results early season is the reason that they can be promoted on Saturday.”
Despite last weekend’s 2-1 home setback against Exeter, the Stags have been in excellent form of late, but Evans said: “League tables and promotions and play-offs have never been dealt with on performances. Had they been, we’d have won every one of our last six or seven games.
“We are not a team that’s hanging on in there, trying to survive in the play-off group. We are a team that’s in superb form but we’ve not killed teams when the opportunity has come to do it. We’ve switched off and it’s cost us defensively.
“We have to forget about the Exeter game now and it’s about what we can do at Doncaster. We got sucker-punched and we have to move on.”
A sell-out home crowd is expected for the big derby at the Keepmoat on Saturday, and Evans said: “We know there will be a good crowd there.
“Doncaster fans are good people. They turn up and get behind their team. We just want to go there, work hard and see if we can get something.
“We will take good support as well. Stags fans will be tremendous – the more local the games are the more they turn up.
“They know we’re still in with a chance. Saturday was massively disappointing for all of us but, again, the team got a standing ovation. They knew their team didn’t deserve what they got again on Saturday.”
If Mansfield are still to make the play-offs, Evans knows they will have to do it the hard way, saying: “Look at the next three games – you go to the champions-elect Doncaster, then you play Luton Town at home who I thought looked a promotion team pre-season at Bedford, then we go down Wycombe who will probably be having a last throw of the dice like ourselves. So they are tough.
“But we have to get back to winning and we have to keep ourselves in contention all the way to the last three or four when people really squeak.”