Manager Paul Cox believes Mansfield Town are on a high ahead of tomorrow’s Sky Bet League Two match with Rochdale.
Our team are currently on a five-match unbeaten run and know that a victory – coupled with favourable results elsewhere – could see us mathematically safe from relegation by tomorrow night.
Nevertheless, we face a tough test to record maximum points as table-toppers Rochdale arrive at One Call Stadium in equally-impressive form.
Keith Hill’s men have gained 14 points from their last six matches and have kept five consecutive clean-sheets to consolidate their position at the top of the table.
“Rochdale have had a great season. They’re one of the better sides [at this level] and they deserve to be where they are [in the league table,” said Cox.
“But we don’t want the season to end at the minute. We’re on a high, we’re playing with a little bit of vigour about us, we’re getting about sides and we’re looking hard to beat.
“We want to keep that going – it’s as simple as that. No matter who we play, I just want us to put in the same kind of shift that we have been doing of late.”
Our boss will also be eager for us to produce a good display, having lost the reverse fixture at Spotland on Boxing Day, courtesy of two goals from Scott Hogan and a close-range strike by Matthew Lund.
“I can count probably three times this season where I think the boys and we as a group have let everybody down and that was one of the games,” said Cox.
“It’s not bad when you look at things throughout the season, because as a group of players we usually work extremely hard – even if we don’t play particularly well.
“But we let ourselves and the supporters down that day. There were a few harsh words said afterwards, not just by me, but by players amongst themselves.”
Due to suspensions and injuries, our team could be without up to eight players for tomorrow’s encounter.
Those who will definitely miss the match are midfielders Jamie McGuire and Anthony Howell (both suspended), full-back Lee Beevers (shoulder) and forward Ben Hutchinson (hamstring).
Goalkeepers Ian Deakin (quad) and Alan Marriott (dislocated finger) are also struggling, whilst full-backs Paul Black and Liam Marsden have also picked up knocks.
As a result, our boss could bring in a goalkeeper on an emergency loan for tomorrow’s match.
With so many possible absentees, Cox could also choose to field those players who impressed him during Wednesday night’s 3-1 win for our reserve team away at Hartlepool United.
Reflecting on the match, our boss said: “Any win is a good win, but [the match] gave us a chance to get players like ‘Bris’ (Louis Briscoe), James Jennings, Lindon (Meikle), ‘Clemmo’ (Chris Clements) and Ross (Dyer) some game-time.
“We had a look at a few trialists, but the most pleasing aspect for me was that we finished the game with three or four [youth team players] on the pitch.”
“It was a really good run-out for us and travelling all that way, you want to win the game.”
You can watch Paul Cox's full interview onStags Playerby clicking here.