Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans believes Saturday’s mouthwatering derby at champions-elect Doncaster Rovers is the perfect game to lift his players to keep their play-off hopes alive.
Saturday’s controversial stoppage time 2-1 home defeat by play-off rivals Exeter City was a kick in the teeth for Mansfield, leaving them four points adrift with just six games to go and heads down.
But on Saturday a sell-out crowd will watch Rovers try to pick up the two points they need for promotion and Evans said: “If you need the manager to motivate you to go and play in a game of that magnitude you may as well give the game up and go and work in a supermarket.
“They’re going to have a party. They are fighting hard to get promotion and we’re going to face the best team in the league.
“They were unfortunate not to go up with that 5-1 demolition of Grimsby on Saturday. It could have been eight or 10 when I watched it. That tells you the size of the task we’ve got there.
“It’s going to be tough. But we’ve no need to lift the players for going away to the league leaders. We know we have to get some points.”
Evans said he still believes Stags can finish in the top seven.
“I have always said we need to go to the league leaders still in with a chance and if we are four or five points within Luton Town when Luton come here the weekend after, that would really please me,” he said.
“I think we need to win four to be in the play-offs. But we are capable of winning all six if we play as we are doing.
“We won our last six games in a row at Rotherham to get promotion there and I think we were sitting in a similar position.
“I have never been defeatist. My glass has never been half empty. “It must always be full. It must always be about positivity.”
He added: “The supporters should never forget, they didn’t expect in October/November to be having a fight for the play-offs.
“The reality is this team might have got relegated. That’s my professional opinion. We have made it more of a promotion fight.
“We are far from being right. If people think I’m happy where we are in key areas all over the pitch, I’m not. But there is only so much surgery you can do in January.”