Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft has called for a strong refereeing performance from man in the middle Gavin Ward as Stags enter the white hot atmosphere of a local derby with Lincoln City at Sincil Bank on Saturday.
Stags have been on the rough end of decisions in both FA Cup games with Charlton Athletic this month.
Stags head to title-chasing Lincoln on the back of a club record 12 unbeaten away league games and unbeaten away in League Two all season, but know Lincoln’s direct style will prove a gruelling test.
“We just want a referee that’s strong,” said Flitcroft.
“We’ve seen it at Charlton on Tuesday with a referee that can’t handle an occasion that’s got 2,000 fans. It can capitulate into what we saw there.
“We need a strong ref as it’s a place that’s been built up now and has got that noise and that atmosphere.
“Their fans come into the stadium expecting their team to win and it’s going to be a tough task.
“But we are certainly excited by the challenge and I am looking forward to going in there and competing.”
Surrey official Ward is an experienced referee with most of his games this season in the Championship. He has handed out 50 yellows but no reds in his 17 games to date.
Flitcroft has huge respect for Lincoln, but believes MK Dons, who replaced Lincoln at the top of the table last weekend, are the best team in the division.
He said: “MK Dons, for me, who have now got the top spot, the way they play and the way they move the ball and what they’ve got up front – they are the team to be reckoned with for me. They also have a very good manager in Paul Tisdale.
“But Lincoln have been really consistent in what they’ve done since the Cowleys came in. They’ve won a lot of football matches and they’ve got a way of winning.”
Flitcroft said injured striker Craig Davies has a chance of playing on Saturday.
“He had an injection into his ankle on Tuesday,” he said.
“He is not getting the power that we want in his ankle and his movement.
“So we’ve injected the ankle. He has one in his right ankle a few weeks ago and that’s settled that down.
“Hopefully he will be right for the weekend.”
However, midfield pair Otis Khan and Alex MacDonald look set to be ruled out again.
Flitcroft added: “Saturday will probably come too quick for them, but we have a full programme of games coming up thick and fast, so we’ll probably get them back at the right time to compete in those games.”
Stags will be boosted at Sincil Bank by a sold-out away following of 1,652 Mansfield Town supporters.
Flitcroft’s men have already won at Sincil Bank this season, 2-1 in a Checkatrade Trophy group game.