Stags’ midifielder Adam Chapman believes the fixtures over the Christmas and New Year period could define the club’s season.
Chapman was on the scoresheet for the first time this season in today’s 1-1 draw with Cambridge United, putting the Stags ahead before U’s substitute Ryan Donaldson equalized with a deflected effort.
Although the midfielder admits that the upcoming games don’t make or break a season, it could dictate whether the Stags will be the occupants of a play-off spot – or chasing one in the months to come.
“[It’s] a massive four/five games now. This period doesn’t make or break your season, but it defines your season. In the last two to three months of the season, if you can go and get some good points on the board in these four/five games then [you’re in a good position].
“We need to start kicking on now at home – we’re not getting beat but we’re not beating as many teams as we’d like to – if we can get through this period with a good points tally then I think that sets us in really good stead to be successful this season.”
Chapman struck his first goal since re-joining the Stags on a permanent deal with a 35-yard free-kick in the first half, but he believes there was a slice of luck involved.
“It was funny because I’ve been getting ‘bantered’ all week. I wasn’t going to shoot – it was the manager who actually told me to shoot so I was trying to disguise it and tell Taff (Ryan Tafazolli) and Pearcey (Krystian Pearce) to go around the back.
“To be fair I think the ‘keeper should have saved it, but I’ll take everything I can,” Chapman said.
The former Stags’ loanee is the only member of the squad to have played in every game of the current campaign and he was happy with the point they picked up today against a good Cambridge side.
“If you said to us at the start of the game: ‘you come here and you get a point’ then you take it, because they’re one of the best teams in this league – now they’ve got the new manager they’ve really kicked on and they’re on a little run of form.
“They did play well today but I thought we battered them for 35 minutes in the first half. We should have seen it out but we conceded a sloppy goal.”
Chapman continued: “It’s a good point, not many teams will come here and get anything but we should’ve put the game to bed in the first 30-35 minutes and probably could’ve nicked it at the end.”
The Retford-born man has been given the captain’s armband in the absence of Nicky Hunt in recent weeks and admits that he does enjoy the extra responsibility it brings.
“It’s something that won’t change the way I play the game. It might subconsciously give me a little boost – I do enjoy it, I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not something I enjoy, because I do.
“Whether I’ve got it [the armband] or not, I still like to be a leader, I still like to be a voice, I still like to be organising and I still like to drive the team on and take responsibility as much as I can.
“I am enjoying it, but on the flip side, I want Nicky Hunt back fit as soon as possible.”
Although for many, Christmas is a time for relaxation and family-time, Chapman insists that it’s no time for the Stags’ players to take their foot off the pedal as they travel to Morecambe on Boxing Day.
“There’s no time to let your hair down and enjoy yourself, but that’s the way it is. It’s not new to anybody, we’ve all been in the game long enough now.
“I actually prefer it, you get bigger crowds, you get kids and their dads come, it gives you that sense of making the fans’ Christmas that little bit better if you can go and nick a win somewhere [on] Boxing Day.”