Forest Green Rovers showdown is not must-win or Mansfield Town’s biggest game of the season assures boss David Flitcroft

Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft
Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft

Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft has played down talk of Saturday’s home showdown with promotion rivals Forest Green Rovers being either a must-win game or Stags’ biggest game of the season.

Mansfield have lost two on the bounce for only the second time this season but stay in the top three promotion spots, four points clear of Saturday’s visitors.

But Flitcroft dismissed talk of the game’s huge importance saying: “There are a lot of points to play for.

“So if we are not careful and we define this game totally as the season is over after it then we have got a problem.

“Saturday was a massive game and we failed on Saturday. But there are still 39 points to play for.

“I was always taught you are never, ever out of a fight until your last breath. That’s my way of thinking.

“You might get beaten up in the first round of a fight, but you might win it in the last round.

“So I completely disagree that Saturday is must-win. Supporters saying that have every right to say that, but I have been taught different.”

He continued: “They are all big games. We have played big games since the start of the season.

“We played big games in pre-season to build momentum and we have just lost that momentum at the minute. That’s something we are in control of and we’ve now got to find that mojo we’ve had all season.”

Flitcroft said fans had rightly had a go at them this week after the tame surrender at Notts County and admitted he may change the side.

“At the Tuesday reserve game supporters let me know how they feel and they have that right – I do understand it as I am deeply passionate guy.

“It hurts watching your team perform with no drive in a local derby.

“There is a possibility I will make changes. At this stage we are just concentrating on getting back the identity we’ve had this season. We need to reset that for Saturday.”

Flitcroft said his side usually bounced back well after a setback and also expressed his admiration for visiting Forest Green.

“We have responded well all season whether it’s when we’ve got beaten or just a dip in form. Players have responded and been positive,” he said.

“Our home record is one of the best in the leagues. The lads love playing at home in this stadium for our supporters.

“But we are coming up against one of the form teams away from home in Forest Green.

“It’s a clash of two really good football teams and two really well-run football teams. I have huge respect for their manager. I always have had.”

He added: “We’ve got to make sure we are representing our town and our supporters with that energy, enthusiasm and quality that we have done at home all season.

“Rovers do have class and it’s going to be a tough game but it’s one we need to come quicker than Saturday really to get rid of this frustration and anger from last weekend.”