Stags’ boss John Dempster has said that Saturday’s ‘outstanding’ 6-1 win over Oldham Athletic has instilled ‘more belief and confidence’ into his squad, with the victory earning the amber and blue back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Striker Nicky Maynard netted a hat-trick in a frantic first-half which saw both Tomas Egert and Filipe Morais dismissed for the Latics. The former West Ham attacker’s goals were supported by strikes from Mal Benning, Dapo Afolayan and Jimmy Knowles to secure an emphatic win.
The manager spoke of how ‘crucial’ Stags’ second successive league victory was.
“The performance was outstanding on Saturday [against Oldham],” he began. “It was vitally important to get a result because we wanted to put back-to-back wins together.
“From start to finish, we dominated. The goals we scored were brilliant to watch for everyone that was there.
“It’s crucial at League Two level [to get back-to-back wins]. We’ll be looking for more back-to-back wins over the remainder of the campaign.
“We want to be a force, in particular at home. We’re yet to set the world alight at home this season, but Saturday was the start of us going in the right direction.
“There have been times this season where we’ve had to pick players up early on in the week because we’ve had a disappointing result.
“So to be able to guide the players in the right direction and make sure they’re in the right frame of mind for the challenge ahead [Forest Green], that’s a great position to be in. The result on Saturday has instilled more belief and confidence.”
One record that was set in the match was 17-year-old forward Jimmy Knowles becoming the Stags’ youngest ever penalty scorer, beating the previous record of 17 years and 327 days, held by Peter Morris since 1961.
The manager believes the achievement could be the first of many for the young striker.
“For Jimmy [Knowles] to be in the history books already is a massive achievement and one he should be proud of.
“The way he came off the bench and performed was excellent, but to step up under pressure and enter the history books is a huge achievement.
“It’s probably a record that will stay there for a number of years. I’m sure Jimmy will stay in the history books and I’m sure he will break a few more records.
The boss also spoke of another record set in the match, which was the Stags scoring six goals in an EFL game for the first time since a 6-1 win over Tranmere in 2002: “It doesn’t matter what the scenario is in the game, if you’re entering the history books for the right reasons then they are stats to be proud of.
“Even when Oldham had 11 men on the pitch we were dominant. I’m really pleased with the performance and it was great to send the home fans away happy.”
The manager then revealed which players will feature in Tuesday afternoon’s Central League opener against Walsall reserves at Birmingham County FA Headquarters.
“In terms of senior pro’s, CJ [Hamilton] Dapo [Afolayan] and Willem Tomlinson will support an under-21 reserve side.
“But within that side will be the under-21 players who have made their league debuts this season in Alistair Smith, James Clarke and Jimmy Knowles.
“Although it will be a young side, it will be a strong side that we expect to go there and perform well.
“They are players who need game time and it will be massively beneficial for everyone for those players to play today.”
Ahead of Saturday’s match against high-flying Forest Green Rovers, the manager spoke of his relationship with Rovers’ boss Mark Cooper, along with what he expects from the game.
“I was his [Mark Cooper’s] captain at Kettering for three years so I know how he works and how professional he is.
“We’ve remained in contact since so he is someone I can call for advice and someone I respect a lot.
“You look at some of the things he’s done in the game as a manager and it’s impressive. What he’s built there over the years at Forest Green is very impressive.
“He’s been trusted to get on with the job and has a wealth of experience. He’s really excelled as a manager and is someone I can see managing at the very top level in the future.
“But there will be no love lost on Saturday, that’s for sure. He won’t be doing me any favours and I know he won’t expect any from me.
“Forest Green keep the ball well and play out from the back. They value possession and when they lose the ball they look to get after people and win it back.
“We know that they’re one of the top three footballing sides in the league, if not the best. They’ll be right up there at the end of the season.
“We’ll look at their danger players and try to exploit any spaces or weaknesses we can find, but essentially it will be about us and what we do.”
One player that will not feature in Saturday’s game at The New Lawn is Ryan Sweeney (below), after the defender picked up his fifth booking of the season against Oldham on Saturday.
The boss says that there are still plenty of defensive options available for him this weekend.
“It’s a shame because Ryan has been in fine form. He’s played a lot of games this season and will be missed.
“But we’re fortunate that Pressie [Matt Preston] is back in the fold, so he will certainly be in contention. We obviously have Conor [Shaughnessy] that can play there as well, so we have a number of different options.
“Because we have a strong squad and players who can play in a number of positions, I’m slowly starting to get the group where I need them to be.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.