Evans urges Stags to play with their hearts against rivals

Steve Evans.
Steve Evans.

Manager Steve Evans has told his players to ignore the cliches and play with their hearts in Saturday’s massive six-pointer home clash with play-off rivals Exeter City.

Exeter occupy the seventh and final play-off spot just two places and one point above Mansfield and Evans is relishing the prospect of bursting into the top seven with just six games to go on Saturday night.

“It is squeaky bum time. Some will lose the plot, some will keep their senses and keep calm,” he said.

“Keeping calm doesn’t mean you’re not going to appeal for decisions or don’t want to be emotional. You can do that but in your head you can still have a calmness to affect it.

“On the pitch, I’ve said to the players, they always have to play with their hearts. I hear people say don’t play with your heart, play with your head.

“Play with your heart but your head kicks in over that and makes sure you make sensible decisions.

“We are the one club no one counted on at the turn of the year. No one thought we were going to come in with a run. But we did. I believe in the group.

“We have seven games left and they are all massive – but one at a time.

“This is fantastic to be involved in. We’re looking forward to Exeter, then we have the short visit over to Doncaster. They are wonderful games to be involved in.

“We need a big turn out and the Stags fans in full voice.

“I’ve done it many times and I am very fortunate. Experience does play a part as you go in there.

“I my play-off campaign at Rotherham I didn’t have play-off experience but I believed that my promotion experience would kick in – and it did.

“I can remember being very clam 2-0 down at Wembley when people all around me were losing the plot, including the players. But we calmed them down just by being calm in a certain situation and turned it around.

“This dressing room I think has got a lot to achieve yet and they will surprise a lot of people. They won’t surprise me if they achieve it.”

Evans has promised his side will go for the jugular from the off on Saturday, saying: “We won’t be cagey. We will be right in their faces.

“Exeter were fantastic down there in the first half against us. We should have been dead and buried at half-time. We know the final score was 2-0, but they scored in injury time and we should have beat them over the 90.

“Second half, in Paul Tisdale’s words, we were the best team to go down there this season.

“I have a lot of respect for this manager. He will turn up the best dressed manager the supporters have ever seen and he’s one of the nicest men you’ll ever come across.

“Whenever I sit down and have a beer and a chat with him, he’s a good guy. But when we go out there on Saturday. It’s another 90 minute battle and we want to make sure that at the end of it we are victorious.”