LOMAS ON MANSFIELD TOWN: Big week ahead as Stags try to prove lowly position is false
A big week lays ahead as Mansfield Town try to prove they are capable of mixing it at the right end of the table.
Stags have still only lost one League Two game, have the second best goals against record, and remain unbeaten away – all fine statistics.
But a combination of too many draws and being two games behind most other clubs due to international call-ups has left David Flitcroft’s men in what could be a very false position in 14th place, five points off the place-off places and already 11 points off automatic promotion.
However, despite the quality of the football they are playing, Stags know they now need to get wins on the board to prove that their current position is false and not a firm indication of how far short they are of being challengers.
The club will be pleased they have managed to fix up the postponed games at Crewe and at home to Grimsby over the next three weeks so we can get a truer picture of where the Stags are at and they are not left facing the pressure of having these missing games hanging over them with winter weather on its way.
By the time Mansfield reach their FA Cup first round tie weekend on Saturday, 10th November, they should be back on an even keel with games played.
But it is an unrelenting and unforgiving schedule, starting this week.
Saturday’s trip to Flitcroft’s former club Swindon Town is quickly followed by the arduous Tuesday night haul up to Morecambe before hosting high-flying MK Dons a week on Saturday.
Morecambe away marks the first of four successive Tuesday night games and makes it six in seven weeks with only this midweek free to allow players a breather and a chance to rest the bumps and bruises.
What Mansfield could then do with is avoiding an FA Cup replay to add another Tuesday night to the current run with a home clash with Crawley then scheduled for Tuesday, 27th November.
The first round draw will be made live on BBC2 this coming Monday evening (7pm) and Mansfield will hope for a nice, comfortable home tie against lesser opposition.
An awful lot has happened in the year since Danny Rose’s double shot down Shaw Lane in a 3-1 first round win for Steve Evans’ men. But there is a lot of football still to play.
With so many games to come in such a short space of time, Mansfield Town’s doubters will soon find out if their current fears are justified or not.
One big booster for everyone this week was the decision of striker Danny Rose to come off the transfer list and commit himself to the cause once again.
It seems to have taken forever, but the player wanted to be certain he was still wanted by the fans and the manager.
The loyal backing supporters have given him and the regular place in the side the manager has given him both affirmed that he was very much wanted and can now repay that faith by a return to the Danny Rose of last season and avoiding ever mentioning the words Peterborough United again.
There was also sad news this week with the retirement of former skipper Zander Diamond at the tender age of 33.
Diamond was a high quality signing by the previous manager that Stags fans rarely saw the best of.
He will best be remembered for scoring twice in last season’s 4-0 win at Port Vale and, of course, for that precious late equaliser in the 2-2 home draw with local rivals Chesterfield.
You only get one footballing career. But you also only ever get one back and it can be one of the worst parts of the body to suffer pain in.
Football is a short career and players must sometimes make these gut-wrenching decision with one eye on the many years still to be lived after football when many will tell you the agony they go through long after the spotlight has been taken off them and they become forgotten men.
I am sure everyone wishes Diamond all the very best in whatever he chooses to do in the future.