Stanley test for struggling Stags

Mansfield Town will be desperate to halt their alarming slide down League Two when fellow strugglers Accrington Stanley visit for a big six-pointer on Saturday.
Mansfield Town's Paul Cox  -Pic by:Richard ParkesMansfield Town's Paul Cox  -Pic by:Richard Parkes
Mansfield Town's Paul Cox -Pic by:Richard Parkes

Mansfield have now not won in 11 League games and failed to win any of their last seven homes games in all competitions, piling the pressure on boss Paul Cox and his depleted squad.

On Saturday they host a visit from an Accrington side who spent the early part of the season rooted to the bottom, but have now found a bit of form.

They sit 21st in the table and have just lost their last two games after putting together three wins on the bounce.

However, they are only two points behind Mansfield so could leapfrog them with a win at One Call Stadium. And their away form of late has been good with two wins and two draws in their last five trips.

Stags produced a gutsy 1-1 draw at Oldham and were then desperately unlucky not to take all three points in last weekend’s 0-0 draw at AFC Wimbledon.

So Cox will be hoping his players’ confidence hasn’t taken too much of a knock by their second half collapse against Oldham in Tuesday’s 4-1 home replay defeat.

“I thought at Wimbledon on Saturday we were getting back to our old selves and for 60 minutes against Oldham we were in no danger whatsoever,” he said.

“We just need to tidy up our decision-making at both ends of the pitch.

“The lads will probably need a bit of picking up today because we felt we lost the match on Tuesday rather than Oldham winning it.

“It’s all about mental strength now and getting some points on the board.

“We need to concentrate on climbing the table and putting ourselves into a bit more of a healthy position.

“I have had some nice texts and spoke to some supporters after Tuesday’s games, and those who are clued up and know the game say we are just lacking a bit of luck at the moment.

“I am a firm believer that you make your own luck by working a little bit harder at both ends of the pitch.

“After only losing two of our first 13 games, we have been on an horrendous run. But the last three performances have seen us coming out if it and we just need to be a bit more ruthless.

“I know it will come. The players still believe and they understand what is expected of them and what they are capable of.”

He added: “We seem to go on a bad run every season at this time and people use phrases like ‘Dark November’ and ‘Black December’.

“But last year and the year before I called for us to get back to basics and we have done that and got back to winning football matches.

“You have to look at the bigger picture and over the two and a half years I have been here we have had undoubted success, even though there have been periods of lows.

“We have been here before. People do get upset. People do lose their heads. But we have always come through and been successful.

“But it is not a nice place to be in. I don’t enjoy football when I am not winning. I want us to get back to winning and put a smile on supporters’ faces.

“I am not greedy. One step at a time. I can’t ask for too much, but my main goal is just to get us back to winning consistently.”

Cox will be without the suspended John Dempster and injured pair Sam Clucas and Ben Hutchinson, though could welcome Lee Stevenson and Ritchie Sutton back from injury after both played in a midweek reserve game.