JOHN LOMAS CHAD STAGS BLOG: Strap on your seatbelts for the Festive football rush

John Lomas. Mansfield chad.
John Lomas. Mansfield chad.

I hope everyone took advantage of the blank weekend to get their Christmas shopping out the way as we fasten our seatbelts for what could be a thrilling ride as the games come thick and fast over the festive period, starting on Saturday.

As for many clubs, this really is a period of time that can help define which way your season goes, and Stags are no different as they continue to punch above their weight in the play-off zone.

With Oxford beating Forest Green Rovers 1-0 on Sunday, that now also means Stags’ scheduled trip to the Kassam Stadium on Saturday, 9th January has been postponed.

So, in effect Stags have had a breather before the glut of games, and will get another one straight after – no bad thing.

In the middle are five games, three at home, starting with today’s visit of Leyton Orient, who have faltered after a superb start to the new season following their relegation from League One last season.

Tough away games at Cambridge and Morecambe follow before struggling York City and revitalised Accrington Stanley visit One Call Stadium.

If Stags are to stay in the top seven, it’s clear they need to start putting some home form together – they have won just three of their 10 home League outings to date. On the road they have won six of the 10.

Some fans feel Adam Murray’s style of play (one lone striker, midfielder/midfielders sitting deep protecting the back four and rarely using two out and out wingers) suits playing away more than at home.

But the Exeter City game aside, regular fans know their side have created a lot of chances at home this season and failed to take them. It won’t take much to change that home record for the better.

Stags will miss the creativity of midfield ace Chris Clements on Saturday as he serves a one-game ban for his red card at Barnet which now seems like an eternity ago.

Saturday’s visitors Orient were early pacemakers in the division with five straight wins under Ian Hendon.

But they have only won one of their last five League outings, sit a point and a place behind the Stags outside the play-off zone and have the distraction of an FA Cup replay at Scunthorpe United this Tuesday.

However, their away record is decent and they have won three and drawn four of their 10 games on the road so far so will be given all due respect.

Next opponents Cambridge have had mixed results since new boss Shaun Derry took charge last month and, although away, it is not a game Stags should fear.

However, Morecambe is an awful away game to inflict on Stags fans on Boxing Day and the only cheer is that, after a good start to the season, they have also fallen away and have lost six of their 10 home games.

Struggling York at home on 28th December is as much of a should-win game as you can get if you have serious play-off ambitions and Accrington at home on Saturday, 2nd January will provide a stern challenge from a club also looking like they are punching above their weight, but who have had a significant cash boost.

It is also a chance for Stags to wipe out the memories of an indifferent display at Accrington in a 1-0 loss early in the season.

Of the five games, I reckon a 10-point return will keep the Stags up there in the hunt and ease the club into 2016 and the January transfer window.