Few pundits will give Mansfield Town a prayer in their FA Cup second round tie away to in-form League One Oldham Athletic tomorrow (Saturday, 3pm).
But, even though the Latics were unbeaten in six November games and have only lost two in 13, compared with Stags, who have lost six League games on the bounce, Mansfield manager Paul Cox warned people not to write his side off tomorrow.
“Oldham are on a fabulous run, the same as the run we started the season with. So we know it will be a tough game,” he said.
“But the FA Cup is a beautiful competition. I have had the pleasure of getting to the latter stages and playing some big clubs and causing some upsets. I enjoy it and I hope the lads enjoy it.
“We have the chance to get the League out of our systems for a while. So we can go up there, give it our best shot, and see what happens.
“The pressure is totally off us. Oldham are expected to win. They are the higher-placed club and they are at home. Their supporters will look at our November results and expect a home win.
“But the beauty of the FA Cup is that anything can happen.”
Cox added: “November has been a bad month. We only lost two of our first 13 games but recently we have played two of the top three sides, four of the top seven, and in three or four of those games we were playing with 10 men.
“That has to have an impact. But, ultimately, it is all about how you come through it.
“I know people feel down at times like this and everyone is losing their head. But I have to keep mine.
“I have to make sure I am focused and can see beyond November.
“I seem to go through this experience at the same time year after year and we have to make sure we go back to doing what we did in that first 13 matches.”
Stags will welcome back Jamie McGuire into the squad from a three-game suspension and estranged skipper Adam Murray, back from his loan at Worksop.
Key midfielder Chris Clements also looks to have recovered from a bang in the ribs last weekend.
However, a scan has revealed a slight tear in the calf of Lee Stevenson and, although he could play strapped up, is looks like he will be rested up until the trip to AFC Wimbledon the weekend after.