LOMAS ON MANSFIELD TOWN: New faces underline Stags' ambition for a bright future
Christmas may have been three weeks ago, but Mansfield Town fans must be pinching themselves at the treats that kept arriving at the club for them this week.
Not only did they sign a fantastic goalkeeper in Forest’s Jordan Smith on Friday, the Stags then brought in talented forward Nicky Ajose from Charlton and, soon after that one, unveiled hot Forest prospect Jorge Grant, all of them here for the rest of the season.
It was a massive statement of intent by the club and showed just how much the Stags want promotion this season.
Smith has already proved he can shine at Championship level, Ajose has a good scoring record at the higher levels and Grant is dropping back down from a loan at League One Luton Town to the level where he excelled on loan at Notts County.
Suddenly the potential combinations on the pitch are endless and Ajose and Grant should add more goals to a side that has already shown it is one of the best defensively in the division.
It remains to be seen if boss David Flitcroft will add another central defender or if he feels the return of David Mirfin is close enough to do the job.
But fans were positively salivating at the signing of Ajose and Grant on Monday, which were a perfectly-timed tonic after two defeats in eight days had taken the shine off that amazing 17-game unbeaten run.
Stags have the chance to put that right at home to Crawley tonight, when a win will put them back into the top three.
Saturday’s home defeat by Yeovil was a huge disappointment, but sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition and the Glovers did exactly what they had to do in their precarious situation to secure a first win in 11 games.
The wind hampered proceedings, Stags badly missed the midfield presence of Neal Bishop and Yeovil simply worked their socks off, chasing and spoiling for 90 minutes.
After tonight’s home Crawley clash, Mansfield next face a big six-pointer on Saturday away at Colchester United, where they have lost their last six visits.
But, with the new faces in the squad enhancing competition for places, and the club’s fantastic away record this season, the game will hold no fear for Flitcroft’s men this time around.
The Steve Evans era generated excitement but sadly proved to be a false dawn.
However, the current manager now boasts one of the strongest squads the club has had in many years, the football is generally attractive, home attendances are rising, the new training ground is up and running and there is a hotel planned for the One Call Stadium to boost funds.
And Mansfield Town are now only two months away from chairman John Radford making the final payment on the One Call to ex-owner Keith Haslam, bringing the ground back into club hands at last.
So it is a great time to be a Mansfield Town supporter.
Hope and ambition have been in short supply down the years, but if this squad can live up to its potential then the future looks dazzlingly bright.
Perhaps the Radfords may need to start planning on the redevelopment of the Bishop Street Stand sooner than they imagined?