Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft is spending this week lifting his players’ mood from disappointment to determination as they head into their penultimate game at Yeovil Town still in the play-offs mix.
A late equaliser in last weekend’s damaging 1-1 home draw with Port Vale felt more like a defeat and, amid the growing pressure, Flitcroft admitted: “The mood when I walked back into the club this week was one of disappointment.
“That’s up to me as the leader to lift that and make sure the standard of training is as high as possible.”
He said Stags needed to be learn to be able to see games out when ahead.
“At Bury, one thing we became masters of was locking the pitch down once we’d gone in front. I think we won something like 14 of the last 17 games,” he said.
“That is something you work on over a season and something I’m trying to implement here.
“We’ve not been able to do it so far and it’s become our Achille’s heel, not getting maximum points on three or four occasions now, which would have consolidated our place in the play-offs.
“We only have two games now to make sure we at least have a fighting chance of getting into the play-offs.”
Saturday’s opponents Yeovil made sure of safety last night with a 0-0 home draw with Forest Green Rovers, who achieved the same, and Flitcroft said: “Yeovil are not having the best of times.
“We watched them against Accrington two weeks ago and it was probably one of Accrington’s best performances of the season.
“They were front foot and attacked them from every angle possible.
“In the end Yeovil could not cope with the pace of Kayden Jackson and skills levels of Sean McConnville and Jordan Clarke.They really struggled on the night.
“So we’ve watched them at close hand live and we can’t wait to get this week out of the way and get down there and play them.”
The Glovers are six games without a win and have now not scored in five successive homes games, losing four of them.
Pre-season aspirations were for Yeovil to solidify their position in League Two and try to climb the table.
Safety was finally achieved last night, but fans are wanting more after five consecutive seasons fighting relegation.
While a very dangerous team when they are firing on all cylinders, Yeovil have struggled badly for consistency this season, which is reflected in their position towards the bottom of League Two.
Manager Darren Way has split opinion among fans this season. While regarded as a club legend as a result of his playing days, his two and a half years in charge have seen Yeovil mostly confined to the bottom half of League Two.
As a result, a section of the fanbase has grown restless and there were some calls for him to go earlier in the season.
Way will argue that he has done a good job on a limited budget, however, and results and performances have generally improved in the second half of the season, with the FA Cup game with Manchester United in particular giving the squad a lift that resulted in improved league form in the following weeks. His position is not in any immediate danger.
Former Stags striker Alex Fisher will be the man to look out for on Saturday, having netted five times in his last eight matches,
A typical poacher, Fisher has a habit of being in the right place at the right time and is one of the more accomplished finishers that Yeovil have had in recent times.
Fellow striker and top scorer Francois Zoko will also be a threat for Yeovil.
Having scored 14 goals in all competitions, his finishing prowess and experience makes him a threat for any opposition.
As well as his shooting ability, Zoko is also capable of beating players and his hold up play brings others into the game.
Already without long-term injured David Mirfin, Stags are also set to be without skipper Zander Diamond (back/hamstring problem) and hamstring injury victims Hayden White and Ricky Miller.
For Yeovil, Stuart Nelson (broken arm), Artur Krysiak (knee), Jake Gray (ankle) and Dan Alfei (knee) are all out for the season.
James Bailey (knee), Ryan Dickson (ankle), and Shaun Donnellan (concussion) are doubts.