Midfielder George Lapslie says that Mansfield Town have the opportunity to get back to ‘where we want to be’ should they secure a fifth successive home victory by beating Salford City on Saturday.
The Stags briefly moved into the top half of the Sky Bet League Two table for the first time since August following a closely fought 1-0 victory over Carlisle United at One Call Stadium on Tuesday night.
Lapslie was part of a fierce midfield battle as the Stags worked tirelessly to keep hold of their early lead courtsey of a sixth minute Stephen McLaughlin header.
The 24-year-old revealed that the key to victory over Carlisle was not to play free-flowing football but to stifle their opposition and deny them gaining any momentum in the game.
“It was just about digging in and getting the three points,” Lapslie said.
“We wanted to get our foot on the ball more, but as a player you realise that maybe it’s time to not let them [Carlisle] get a foot in the game.
“We [had] got the one nil lead and if we don’t make any mistakes then we should be alright.”
Stags’ 1-0 advantage came thanks to Elliott Hewitt’s controlled cross and McLaughlin’s cushioned header, a move Lapslie admitted was as good as the one in the build up to his winner against Doncaster in the FA Cup last Saturday.
“[It was] probably better than my one away at Doncaster,” he said. “We kept it [the ball] for quite a while and then it was a great ball in by Ell [Elliot Hewitt] and a great finish by Macca [Stephen McLaughlin].
“We then had a couple of chances where we could have gotten a shot off or maybe [we] picked the wrong pass.
“It is what it is but we got the three points and we go on to Saturday. It’s a massive one on Saturday.”
The Stags face a Salford side that are four games unbeaten in Sky Bet League Two, including an impressive scalp over Harrogate in North Yorkshire last month.
Meanwhile, Nigel Clough’s men have experienced strong form and sit top of the form table for the last five matches.
“I wouldn’t say much has changed [from the undesirable run],” he said.
“I think we’re getting the rub of the green a bit more. When we were going through that bad spell, every shot someone was having they were scoring. As players, we knew that this couldn’t happen [over] a long time.
“On Tuesday, he’s [Jordan Gibson] had a shot in the last minute and it’s hit the bar, I think six weeks ago that’s going straight into the top corner.
“[The run] is a good way to cap off the [last] week and then Saturday is a massive one.
“If we win on Saturday we’re right back amongst it [and] where we want to be.”
Following their clash with Salford, Mansfield travel to league leaders Forest Green Rovers in the final match before Christmas.
“[We’ll] focus on Salford first but Forest Green is going to be a tough one. I think they’re showing that they’re the dominant side in the league at the minute,” he said.
“[They’re] two very tricky games but we fancy ourselves against anyone.”