Time for Mansfield Town to end season-long hoodoo against top sides

Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray 'Pic by Dan Westwell.
Mansfield Town Manager Adam Murray 'Pic by Dan Westwell.

Mansfield Town know they will have to end their season-long inability to beat a side in the top half of League Two if they are to beat play-off rivals Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

It is an amazing statistic considering Stags are still up there in the mix, just two points off the top seven places.

But with only 11 games to go, Stags now face four play-off rivals in a row this month and boss Adam Murray said: “If there was ever a time for us to beat these teams, maybe we’ve just left it until now?

“I’ve got a sneaking feeling it’s fell this way for a reason – trends might just change.”

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Only one win in the last five has seen his side drop out the play-off places, but he said: “It’s been more frustrating than disappointing as we’ve not played bad.

“I even spoke to my mum on Sunday – and she hasn’t got a clue about football - and she said she was listening to it on Sky Sports News and they were saying it was all Mansfield and you lost – what happened?

“That sums it up. I think against Yeovil last Saturday we got too carried away with trying to score. Yes we want to win the games, but we can’t concede sloppy goals like that. The focus was on scoring and we let our guard down and got sucker-punched like we did at Newport last week.

“The good thing for us is we keep getting little lifelines and you look at the results on Tuesday night again, unfortunately for all the teams that had four or five games in hand on us, they’ve now gone and we are two points off the play-offs.

“So it’s all levelled out now. We have 11 games to go and we’ve got to play them all.”

Most fans clapped Stags off after the 1-0 home defeat by Yeovil, but Murray was hurt by some of the shouts accusing his players of not trying.

“I heard some sausage shout on Saturday - they don’t look interested and there’s no urgency,” he said.

“I was nearly sick in my mouth as you’re not going to get a more willing team than this one. They can’t run any more. I know as I have the GPS satnavs on them.

“It makes you angry as you know how hard the group is working. Yes, we are missing certain bits. But we are Mansfield Town. We can’t have everything.

“We are doing the best with what we’ve got and the boys are doing fantastic.

“We are competing and we should be proud of what we’ve done this season so far. We are in a position to affect these teams now which we shouldn’t be at the minute. We are battling with the big guns.”

He added: “Rovers turned down a big bid for striker Matty Taylor as they said he will them promoted, which is great to be able to do that as a football club and ‘say we don’t want this money’.

“Rovers have also taken centre forward Ollie McBurnie on loan from Swansea. “We asked about him three weeks ago but we couldn’t do it. They went and did it. That’s the difference.

“We will keep scrapping. No one can question this group’s work ethic or fight. The last two weeks we’ve not had that rub of the green.”