Mansfield Town defender Oli Hawkins is determined to help the Stags continue their strong home record when Northampton Town visit One Call Stadium this Saturday for the much-anticipated League Two play-off semi-final first leg.
The Stags are looking to build on an extremely impressive home record this season which has seen Mansfield win 13 out of their last 15 games at One Call Stadium.
Nigel Clough’s men are expected to play in front of a sell-out crowd for the second consecutive game and 30-year-old Hawkins is determined to put on a solid performance for the Stags’ fans.
“I’ve said it all season, the fans have been brilliant home and away,” said Hawkins.
“All we can do is our best and hopefully come out with a victory.
“Ideally, we would have liked to get automatics which obviously didn’t happen for us, but we’ve worked really hard and it’s an achievement to get into the play-offs considering where we were at the start of the season.”
The former Portsmouth defender also reflected on his previous experiences in the play-offs with Pompey and Dagenham & Redbridge.
“I’ve been involved in a couple [of play-offs] and lost a couple in my time at Portsmouth in two semi-finals and I also had a previous one in the Conference with Dagenham too.
“It’s important to be relaxed and not be pressured. You’ve got to play your own game like you’ve played all season.”
The 2021-2022 season has seen Hawkins successfully transition from centre-forward to centre-back.
“It’s strange really because obviously I came here as a centre-forward having played centre-half previously in my career. But I never thought I’d have played as many games at centre-half as I have this season.
“Obviously I’m a target man and our team do like to play good football, so it’s probably benefiting me going back there to see the other side of my game and potentially prolong my career knowing I can play another position.”