Stags’ boss Steve Evans says tomorrow’s clash with Accrington Stanley will be a sterner test than the one which Hartlepool posed as his side look to stretch their unbeaten run to nine games.
Saturday’s 4-0 win over Pools was Stags’ biggest victory of the season and it extended their unbeaten league run to eight, including six victories and two draws.
During that unbeaten streak, Steve Evans’ men have conceded just two goals and the boss says his side will have to be at their best to overcome an underrated Accrington side tomorrow night.
“Accrington Stanley have beaten the likes of Bradford this season, they’ve beaten Luton, they drew with Carlisle – we got ‘whomped’ at Carlisle and they drew with them and should have beaten them when Carlisle were in super form, not the wee dip they’re having now,” the Stags’ chief said.
“I think it proves that Accrington have got some tidy players and there lies my respect for them because they’re capable of beating any team in this league.
“This is an Accrington side under a very experienced gaffer (John Coleman), someone who’s like me who’s come through non-league and knows what it takes to put teams together.
“I really respect the opponents tomorrow night and we’re going to have to be at our best. This is one game that I’ve said to the players prior to the weekend: we’ve got two mountains coming up and the higher mountain would be Tuesday. We’ve got over Saturday, this is a much sterner test on Tuesday.”
With games coming thick and fast in Sky Bet League Two, the manager says it is important to manager players’ game-time in order for them to perform at their best.
“We’re in a period where we’re doing Saturday-Tuesday, we have a break next week and then we have the long trips ahead of us so we need to make sure that we use the group in a wise way and make sure that we’re not seeing anyone tired.
“If anyone produces, not a not good performance, but a tired performance, then it would probably mean that their miles on the clock is high in terms of a short space of time and they need to come out the side.
“A lot of the analysis I do with Sean O’Callaghan, our analyst, is based on minutes and actual time and making sure what my eyes tell me are [the same as] the figures that he comes up with.”
Defender Kyle Howkins is expected to take part in a match for West Bromwich Albion’s under 23s tonight and the gaffer has confirmed that he won’t be available for selection for tomorrow’s game against Stanley, but says he has 21 players at his disposal.
"I think West Brom have got a game tonight and one later in the week and he’ll be involved in that and then we probably need to bring him in here and get a week’s training in to him like we did last time before we could involve him.
“It will be the 18 players who were involved on Saturday, plus Ashley Hemmings comes in to contention as always, as does Paddy Hoban and a young man from our under 21s, Lewis Collins, who’s been training with the first team for about two/two-and-a-half weeks now.
“Every day the kid’s getting better and that’s good because we want people to challenge from within the squad and of course from the youth below it.”
Supporters can view manager Steve Evans’ news conference, in full, on Stags PlayerHD.