Cox demands back-to-back Stags wins

Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox.
Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox.

Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox has challenged his side to achieve back-to-back wins for the first time since September when AFC Wimbledon hit town on Saturday.

He has also told centre half Ryan Tafazolli to ignore his sore foot and get back into the side after missing the midweek 4-2 win at Hartlepool United.

Stags last won more than one game in a row back in September when they put together a hat-trick of victories on the bounce against York, Northampton and Chesterfield, and victory over the Dons will also edge the Stags to the 50-point mark, which may be enough to all but see off the threat of relegation.

“What I want to see now is back-to-back wins for the first time since September,” said Cox.

“The bottom clubs have still all go to play each other so it will be a crazy end to the season.

“It is a massive game for us, not because of who we are playing. Too often we win a game then sit and admire it and I am not into that.

“We lack consistency. That’s not just the players, I include myself in that as well as I am always very self-critical.”

A late goal saw the Dons pull off a 1-1 draw at relegation rivals Northampton Town on Tuesday.

They have only lost one in the last seven outings and will be full of confidence.

“It was an excellent point for AFC on Tuesday,” said Cox. “They showed down there that they are hard to break down and have good players through the side which seems to be the make up of this league, it is so tight.

“We can get to 50 points on Saturday, but we may need more to be safe.

“Colin Cooper said after Tuesday’s game that he felt they had still got a chance of the play-offs and we are only two points behind them!

“There are no easy games in this division and you have to respect every manager and set of players you come up against.

“Being analytical of our season, during that bad spell between October and mid-December, if we had even picked up seven to nine points we would be sat in a play-off place at the minute.

“The boys have been on an incredible learning curve this season which bodes well for the future.”

Cox said it was still sometimes hard to believe how far Mansfield Town had come in a short space of time.

“Sometimes you have to pinch yourself,” he said. “It’s been a rollercoaster since I have been here. Who would have thought that in two years we would be here in League football.

“It is all about having belief and confidence, and they come from consistency. That’s what I now want to see from my players.

“We are near the top of the clean sheets league yet we have conceded 52 goals.

“Another thing is putting the ball in the back of the net. We have had numerous chances to kill teams off and been punished for not doing that. It’s fine margins. If we can tidy up those things we will improve, but we have to walk before we can run.”

Central defender Tafazolli is getting some tough love from his former centre half manager.

After missing the Hartlepool clash with a sore foot, Cox expects him to play on Saturday come what may.

“I expect him to be fit. He needs to go back in there,” said Cox.

“He is a big lad and it’s his first full season. It is a time he doesn’t want to be missing games and I am going to be a bit hard on him.

“Sometimes you just need to forget about bumps and bruises and play.”