Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray says now is the time to start taking points off the teams in the upper echelons of Sky Bet League 2.
Last night saw the majority of Sky Bet League 2 clubs draw level with the Stags on games played, with only Accrington Stanley and Wycombe Wanderers playing a game less than the rest of the top 10.
And after travelling to the Memorial Stadium to see Bristol Rovers beat AFC Wimbledon 3-1 last night, the boss says the time is now to defeat a side in the top 12 for the first time this season.
“The good thing for us is, and we keep saying it, we keep getting little lifelines. You look at the results last night again, unfortunately for all the teams that had four or five games on us, now they’re gone,” said Murray.
“We’re two points off the play-offs so it’s all levelled out now. This is it, we’re two points off the play-offs with 11 games to go, and we’ve got to play them all. So if there’s ever a time for us to beat these teams, maybe we’ve left it until now!
“There’s going to be a lot of twists and turns. If we can stay in it and in or around it until the last few games and within two, three or four points of it, if not in it, we'll give ourselves a great chance [of finishing in the play-offs].”
The manager said that it was good to analyse the Gas’ strengths and weaknesses during last night’s clash with AFC Wimbledon, but he also enjoyed being able to see ‘the bigger picture’ in regards to where he sees his side in the future.
“They’re very good at playing a couple of different shapes. He’s (Darrell Clarke, Bristol Rovers’ manager) a bit like us and changes his shape for different teams. They’ve played together a lot and the group has been together a long time.
“The one thing they’ve got at the minute is a bit of momentum. I think what Clarkey’s done down there is he’s put a group together that got relegated, he kept most of it together and then they obviously got promoted and now they’re going again."
The manager continued: "They’re showing what we’re trying to get, and what I keep saying will come with time, is consistency. His group and his settled environment has enabled him the time to get that consistency. At the minute, yes he’s got good players, but I look at my players and my players are just as good but the thing they probably have over us at the minute is that consistency.”
Murray has a larger squad of available players to choose from this weekend after defender Krystian Pearce completed his two-match suspension against Yeovil Town last Saturday and midfielder Matty Blair is recovering well from illness.
The Birmingham-born manager is happy to have 26-year-old Blair available after the former Fleetwood Town man has started to show his best form in a Stags’ shirt in recent weeks.
“He’s been the Matty Blair that we signed. It was always going to take time, like it did with Greeny (Matt Green), because of the time he had out, but he’s a real threat when he plays.
“Sometimes even when he makes a mistake, he’s that quick he rectifies it. He gives you that threat of, he’ll get at people, he’ll make runs from deep that are ‘unmarkable’ and he’s started scoring goals as well. So if we can get him up to speed this week, he’ll be a good option for us on Saturday.”