LOMAS ON STAGS: Something is in the air - and it’s not Christmas!

Mansfield Town on the march? Photo by Leila Coker / PRiME Media Images.
Mansfield Town on the march? Photo by Leila Coker / PRiME Media Images.

Something special is in the air this week – and it’s definitely not Christmas.

As the festive lights go on in the towns and cities and Noddy Holder’s familiar refrain rings out in every shop, there is definitely something far more special in the air in Mansfield at the moment.

It is something Stags fans have rarely had – justified optimism.

That and the excitement over the first local derby with bitter rivals Chesterfield in almost four years is turning the air positively electric.

The feeling is certainly becoming infectious as Steve Evans begins to deliver on his promise of a play-off challenge with an exciting team of quality players.

Two successive wins away to promotion rivals Coventry City and at home to inconsistent but dangerous Stevenage without conceding a goal extended the Stags’ unbeaten run to eight games before last night’s trip to revitalised Port Vale.

Whatever the result there, nothing can detract from the sense of anticipation for the visit of Chesterfield.

The game looks set to be a complete sell-out with fans clamouring for tickets for the big day.

That comes just two weeks after Stags took an amazing away following of 1,565 to Coventry.

Whatever the politicians tell us, money is still very tight out there for many people and football remains a luxury product for a lot of fans.

However, the current feelgood factor is proving enough of a lure to swell the crowds past the usual frozen faithful and you can see momentum being built.

It is not just the fans who are feeling increasingly confident.

Against Stevenage last weekend, even though they only scored one goal (they actually scored two but were stung by a diabolical decision by the referee), Mansfield played some fantastic attacking football while their mean defence prevented the visitors getting away a single shot on target.

Chesterfield are much improved under Jack Lester but still remain bottom and come into the derby as underdogs.

If Stags can match the Spireites’ early thunder and turn on the style to win the game, the noise is going to be deafening and the level of optimism at its highest since Paul Cox won the Conference title.

Ironically Cox and Adam Murray will then be the next visitors to the One Call for the FA Cup tie with Guiseley the following Sunday as Stags bid to book the chance of a glamour third round tie.