Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft has warned his squad not to look beyond Saturday’s visit of Port Vale as the chase for the play-offs hots up.
After a first win in 10 with last weekend’s glorious 1-0 victory in the derby game at Chesterfield, Mansfield went back into the top seven and kept their hopes alive.
Rivals do have games in hand while Stags have three must-win games left against sides in the bottom half of the table.
However, Flitcroft warned: “We have to prepare for the next game with Port Vale and not look past that
“We must make sure all our energy, commitment and desire focus on driving for three points on Saturday and then worry about the next one after that. We are not looking past Port Vale as that is the next game that we can affect as a group of players.
“Over the final four to six weeks there have been so many teams trying to get into the play-offs, secure a top three spot or fight relegation. A lot of teams still have got a lot of points to play for and a lot of reason to keep turning out wins.
“We know Lincoln do have to play rivals. But you carry on with your own business.
“You keep an eye on what’s going on, but you can’t come too far off and focus on other teams as we have a really important job to do here.”
Although remaining opponents Port Vale, Yeovil Town and Crawley all appear to be safe with little to play for, Flitcroft said: “Yeovil had nothing to play for two weeks ago but beat Coventry 6-2. So I don’t know where this ‘nothing to play for’ comes from.
“You have everything to play for. You could argue that some of the Premiership boys who are on fortunes and have a five or six year contract at times have nothing to play for.
“But lads who go out there every week in League Two are not on fantastic money, so they have to graft for that next contract.
“So I don’t buy into them having nothing to play for in these last few games - I never have and never will do.
“Being involved in League One and League Two as long as I have, I know there is an honesty and sincerity about them. Teams don’t just go away.”
Flitcroft finally chalked up his first win as Stags boss at the ninth attempt on Saturday and smiled: “It wasn’t relief – it was absolute joy.
“Winning games is what we are all in this game for. Every football club is striving for the same thing.
“But to witness what it meant to the supporters to win at Chesterfield, it was absolute joy.
“The chairman, Carolyn, the directors, and supporters and all my staff – who work incredibly hard – and the players were joyous after the game. From a young age you are taught to win football matches and that’s what I have come here to do.
“That win will help give us belief that what we are doing is right and what we are doing on the training pitch is right. You instil belief.
“Confidence comes from doing the right things all the time and making sure your skills levels and fitness levels are at their optimum. Confidence comes from high skill levels, but winning breeds belief.
“Your values are every day. They can’t just be lived on a Saturday. They have to be lived in the week Monday to Friday too.”
He added: “You have to create an environment and atmosphere and you have to do it every day, even when you are losing.
“You come together when you win and make sure you learn when you lose. You want the squad to be together as one and that’s what I’ve been trying to do from day one.
“I know the way I set an environment breeds winning, it always has done at every club I’ve been at.”
Stags expect another big, noisy backing at home on Saturday and Flitcroft said: “The fans have been outstanding all season.
“Before I came in I watched a lot of games and now I’ve been part of it and understood it.
“Our own fans are as passionate as I’ve ever been involved with. They absolutely love their football and love the football club.
“At home against Crewe when we energised them second half they were just incredible.
“I can’t really ask any more from them apart from continue to support us and we’ll get it right.”
Stags look set to be without left back Hayden White on Saturday. He limped off at Chesterfield last weekend with a tight hamstring.