New Mansfield Town defender Matt Preston has enjoyed his four pre-season outings at the One Call Stadium so far and can’t wait to help Stags make it a place opponents fear to come over the next nine months.
Stags kick-off the new season at home to Newport on Saturday and Preston believes the players and fans can make it an uncomfortable afternoon for the Welsh club.
“The gaffer drills into us that this has to be our fortress,” he said.
“You should defend your home ground and when people come here they should fear it. It’s been like that so far.
“It’s a cliché to say they are a 12th man but if things aren’t going well or it’s a bit of a mellow game, just hearing the crowd uplifts you.
“I’ve settled in well. I know quite a few of the players back from where I live. We travel in together so that’s made things a lot easier as you get to speak to them.
“I said as I signed the gaffer is a big influence on me. I feel like we get on well together and I know what he’s about. He pushes teams to what they are capable of.
“We know Newport will give us a tough test but it’s more about what we can do than thinking about the opposition.”
Preston can’t wait for 3pm on Saturday.
“Of course I am excited. We feel exactly the same as the fans,” he said.
“It’s like a build-up in your stomach and you want to just unleash it on Saturday.
“It feels like we have been doing pre-season for a long time now. Now it would be nice to see if we can take our good pre-season into the league.
“The gaffer has worked us hard but not too hard so I feel fresh and fit.
“It’s a different mindset on Saturday as the league is where it really matters.
“Even though we’ve tried to make it as realistic as we can you can’t replicate the sort of pressures of what comes in the league.”
Of his own ambitions, he said: “Personally I want to play as many games as I can and I want to progress and get better through the experience of playing games.
“I think we have a very strong, ambitious team. Everyone here believes we can do well, so it’s just a matter of showing everyone.
“We want to finish as high as we can. But I don’t like to look too far ahead. I like to take games step by step and just think about the performance overall.
“If we get the performances, the league will take care of itself.
“You can’t get too carried away with pre-season, but we’ve held our own and won against Championship sides. That’s a confidence booster as if we can hang with Championship teams then League Two should fall into place.”