Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has called for his side to remain ‘calm’ as the Stags enter their final two matches of the Sky Bet League Two season.
Currently fifth in the league table, Mansfield can secure a minimum of a play-off place finish with a victory away at Salford on Monday afternoon.
Consecutive 2-0 victories at home to Crawley and Stevenage in the past week puts Mansfield in a healthy position, but the gaffer hopes his side can remain focused over the next week with the season drawing to a close.
Speaking to the local media in his news conference today, the boss said: “We’ve tried to [keep the atmosphere calm around the club], we tried to at half-time on Tuesday night against Stevenage when we weren’t playing very well.
“There’s no point us getting panicky at this stage.
“We have to stay calm and be as composed as we can going into the last two games.
“We’ve tried to do it [remain calm] for 44 league games and so we’re not going to change now.”
Stags head to The Peninsula Stadium on Monday targeting a first top seven finish since 2019.
“A win [at Salford on Monday] is the only thing that guarantees us to be in the play-offs and gives us a shout [of making the top three] going into the final day,” said Nigel.
“When you look at our results, people will say we haven’t had enough draws.
“If we’d turned [a couple of] the defeats into draws, then certainly we would be in a better position but not at the expense of going for the wins.
“We’ve won a lot of games this season, especially at home so we need to keep doing the same [things].”
Salford have promotion aspirations of their own. Gary Bowyer’s side need a result to maintain their push for a play-off finish.
“I think they’re still more than capable [of getting into the play-offs],” the Stags’ chief said.
“They’ve had a good little run recently which has put them back into the [promotion] picture.
“They’ll know they need to win, without doubt, to still stand a chance going into the final day.
“It’s going to be an interesting one, I know we’re going to take a few supporters up there, so we want the lads to play.”
Monday’s fixture was rearranged due to television coverage, the Stags could potentially head into the top three, at least for a brief period, after the Salford game – depending on Saturday's results.
“[By playing on Monday, after Saturday's fixtures] It’s going to add a little bit of clarity to the situation, certainly.
“We still know what we need to do. We need to go and win the game.
“I think we’ll probably outnumber them. There’s a lot of interest in the game.
“It’s so exciting, you see it after the game, we weren’t brilliant against Stevenage [but] we got the result in the end, and you see everybody’s reaction.
“What we don’t want to do is let them [the Stags’ supporters] down.”
The gaffer provided an update on his squad’s injury list.
“Quinny [Stephen Quinn] is 50/50 for the game,” he said.
“He got a very, very sore hip after the whack against Crawley so [we’re] not sure [if he’ll feature at Salford].
“Ollie Clarke is down to start training this week which will be a bonus, but he’s obviously not done anything for a good few weeks now so we’ll see how he comes through that.”
With optimism building, the manager says he will look to manage the ever-growing excitement surrounding the Stags’ push for promotion.
“You want that anticipation and quiet excitement.
“[But] You don’t want to be over the top with everybody in, screaming and shouting.
“We’ve achieved nothing yet, absolutely nothing.
“We’re not even guaranteed the play-offs.
“I think it’s lovely for everybody, football fans or not to be interested in their local team.
“We know that a couple of thousand will go up to Salford and make their presence heard.
“We’re all excited but we’re just trying to keep it under wraps and channel it the right way.”
Watch the manager's news conference now by clicking here.