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Forward relishing ‘amazing’ Wembley opportunity

24 May 2022

Stags’ top scorer Rhys Oates says Saturday’s Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final will be an ‘amazing experience’ but that the squad are solely focused on their ‘end goal’ of achieving promotion to League One.

Mansfield head to Wembley off the back of two semi-final victories over Northampton Town, the highest finishing League Two play-off side after the 46-game regular season.

Goalscorer in the play-off semi-final first leg at One Call Stadium, Oates will be looking to add to his 13 goals in all competitions this Saturday in a highy-anticipated afternoon for the amber and blue.

Speaking to the media in his pre-Wembley news conference, the Stags’ number 18 voiced the size of the occasion.

“It is every kid's dream to play there [Wembley] who loves football so it's going to be an amazing experience,” said the striker.

“The end goal is to win it [the match] and get promoted. Wherever we play we want to win the game and get promoted.

“It is a strange feeling [being in the Play-Off Final]; it doesn’t feel real at the moment that you’re going to play at Wembley, but we’ve just got to take it as another game.”

The Stags’ talisman believes that the team can take great confidence into the weekend from winning both of their play-off semi-finals against Northampton.

“If you look at both legs; [in the] first leg, we had a lot of the ball and we created a lot of chances [and] got the lead,” he said.

“We [then] showed how good we can defend [in the second leg away at Sixfields], keeping clean sheets and things like that.

“I think if we put both of them together [the fine attacking and defensive displays] on the day then it should be a positive outcome.”

With excitement building, Stags have sold over 15,000 tickets for the encounter.

 The frontman feels that having a large crowd to back the squad will be an added bonus at the country’s largest football stadium.

“It's exciting,” said Oates.

“We're all buzzing for it and we're just going to take the week as usual [and] train as we usually do.

“They have [the fans] been like a twelfth man all season, I think 15,000 is an amazing number.

“Hopefully we can keep that [figure] rising throughout the week and get that maybe to the 20,000 mark.

“They will be backing us as they have done all season, we know that they will be amazing from the first minute and will be backing us all the way to the ninetieth minute [and beyond].”

With the Stags a game away from Sky Bet League One, the forward lauded the squad’s remarkable rise from joint bottom of the league in mid-October to promotion hopefuls in May.

“It’s been a roller coaster season, but it's been an amazing one.

“If you look at where we were in October time; during the season we were [at] rock bottom [and] joint bottom in the league.

“To see where we are now, it's been an amazing turnaround and it's been a great season.”

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