Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray has declared that the next six weeks is ‘make or break’ time as his players look to reclaim a Sky Bet League 2 play-off place.
The Stags are in tenth-position after seeing all of their top-seven rivals in action on Tuesday evening.
And boss Murray, who was at Sixfields to watch AFC Wimbledon snatch a draw against table-toppers Northampton Town, believes the midweek fixtures panned out nicely for his side.
“It was an interesting night. It just proves how tight the league is at the minute. I think it went really well for us last night. It’s a game [in hand] for most teams [over us now] and we’ve got to play them all. We’re two points off fifth; it’s going to be so close.
“It’s make or break. We’re playing everyone around us; we have to take [it] game by game but I’m a sucker for patterns and trends and at some point there has to be a swing in that motion.
“If we can swing that at this stage of the season and start taking points off the teams around us, we’ve got a great chance of being in the mix [for a play-off spot].”
Murray also thinks that the expectation is firmly with their promotion-chasing rivals to extend their season by finishing in the top seven, and has called on his players to have faith in their abilities.
“All these teams up there have got a pressure to stay there. We’re coming as the underdogs and we’re enjoying it. We’ve gate-crashed the league so far this season, that’s a credit to the players. When we’ve needed them, the supporters have ‘come to the party’ [also].
“What we’ve managed to do is set some good platforms to build on. I’ve watched everyone in this league a number of times now and we’re up there with the best. The players have got to believe how good they are.”
The Stags face a resurgent Yeovil Town on Saturday afternoon (3pm kick-off) at One Call Stadium. The 21st-placed Glovers will be buoyed after an impressive 1-0 victory over Accrington Stanley on Tuesday, and Murray has acknowledged the challenge that the Somerset side will bring.
“This will be as tough as playing one of the top seven teams. They’re playing with a lot of spirit at the minute [and] a lot of fight. Like any team, they’ve got weaknesses.
“I’ve watched their last six or seven games – the shape they play and the way they play, they play very well. They’ve picked up a lot of draws in the run but they’re also an attacking threat.
“It’s a little bit different to our pressure. Ours is a pressure that we’re enjoying because it’s a goal we didn’t expect to have this season, so as long as we take care of our business, we’ll be ‘in the mix’.”
In addition, 34-year-old Murray has said that his bond with the players is one of the reasons why he’s doing so well as manager of the Stags.
“My forte is coaching, I love coaching. I don’t want to lose my ‘player head’ because I think that’s one of my biggest strengths. I’ve got very good relationships with all of my players; I know them inside out."
You can view Murray’s full news conference on Stags Player.