Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans believes Cheltenham Town’s magnificent 1-1 draw at high-flying Accrington on Saturday underlined how tough it will be for the Stags at Whaddon Road tomorrow night (7.45).
After a poor start, Gary Johnson’s side have started to find some form, though still sit 21st with fifth-placed Stags heading south today on a six-game unbeaten League run.
“It (Cheltenham’s form) was a little bit patchy to start with, but Garry has made one or two good signings, the boy (Alex) Davey coming in who was at Chelsea before,” said Evans.
“I watched back their game from the weekend and I think it’s fair to say there’s not many teams who go to Accrington and dominate for large spells – and they did.
“They were under the cosh a bit early on, but dealt with that, came through and scored a goal against the run of play.
“Second half it was game on and either team could have won it. It was a good performance by Gary’s side.
With a second derby in three weeks looming on Saturday against Notts County, Evans admitted: “We have had a run of games that have been really tough physically, taking the demands on the players to the extreme. And we have the same again this week. “That was a really tough match against Cambridge on Saturday – we had to go to 97 minutes on the clock to secure the points.
“Then we have to make the trip down to Cheltenham and Whaddon Road is a place that’s always tough. It’s never a ground you go to, when Gary has the best of his players available, and think it’s ever going to be easy.
“So that will be tough and then we go into Saturday, which we will only think about at 11pm on Tuesday evening.”
Evans said there were one or two bumps and bruises from the weekend and he was hoping they would be cleared to play before the team coach heads for Cheltenham tonight.
“We will take into account a number of factors before we pick the team,” he said.
“We will take into account our players first and foremost. We say if we get our game right most of the time then we will be involved in trying to win it.
“So we’ll be looking at how fresh the players are today. There will be one or two tired legs and we have one or two knocks – we will leave them to the medical department – and we’ll also consideration the opposition – that’s a big factor.
“We have one or two knocks we are having to deal with, probably one or two in key areas.
“But that comes over a course of a season and is why we have the players we’ve got here. It takes all types.”
He continued: “Some clubs are doing particularly well but if they got two or three knocks it would be a problem for them.
“We wouldn’t like to think of it as a problem, we’d like to think of it as an opportunity as some of the lads probably feel they should be playing.
“That’s always the way when you get really healthy competition in the group. I don’t want players on the bench or up in the seats watching the game with a smile on their face and happy they’ve not been selected.
“They are the type of players that we don’t want and I have never wanted. They don’t belong in our squad.
“We will sit down as a management team as we always do, seek opinion and counsel and then I will retire to pick the team.”
An 87th minute Danny Rose goal saw Stags come from behind to beat Cambridge 2-1 on Saturday and Evans said: “It was a great three points and a good win, though I don’t think we were at our best.
“I said that after the game and I have since watched back the whole 90 minutes and still think that.
“I do think it would have been harsh if we’d have lost it as I don’t remember Conrad making too many saves – one first half and one second half.
“Once we’d scored the penalty I did think we’d go on and win the game. Apart from a few corners well into in added time we were dominant in that last 15 minutes, trying to get a winner without being overly creative.
“I was pleased with the substitutes and I was pleased to get a win when a draw was a fair result.”
The Stags are unbeaten in their last four trips to Cheltenham.