John Lomas’ Stags Blog: Safety nears, but job not yet done

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  • Two big home games in four days
  • Exciting daydreams about next season
  • Will floating fans be back now Stags are winning?

Adam Murray is correct that the job is not yet done and Mansfield Town cannot afford to lose any focus over the two massive home games to come in the next few days.

But, jumping the gun, I still can’t help feeling just a little excited about the prospects of next season already.

We all know that a fully fit Hearn could rip this division apart next season

We all know that a fully fit Hearn could rip this division apart next season

The Stags have proved to me that they have enough in the tank to stay in the Football League with their recent improved results which have seen them escape the bottom two and build an eight-point safety gap.

Now there is talk of trying to get Billy Kee full-time while hotshot Liam Hearn is back in training and you start to think ‘what ifs’ for next season.

We all know that a fully fit Hearn could rip this division apart next season while Scunthorpe loanee Kee is starting to find find a bit of fitness and confidence, though must go back after the Shrewsbury game. But, with a proper pre-season in him, what a signing he could be too if a deal could be reached to bring him back here.

Fellow loanee striker Vadaine Oliver is another who Murray must be hoping to get on a full-time basis from Crewe.

Murray’s signings have been impressive so far and he has told the doubters his contacts are good. He wants to build a footballing side, so I feel quite excited about the type of players he may bring in.

That, coupled with the youngsters staking genuine claims for a first team start, suggests the future could be bright, despite the financial shackles the club are working under.

Looking at recent final tables, Mansfield probably need another three wins from their last 11 games to retain their Football League status for a third season.

But Saturday’s visitors Bury and Tuesday’s visitors AFC Wimbledon will both be far from easy opposition.

Sixth-placed Bury’s defeat last weekend was their first in seven games and they had just won four on the bounce.

They also out-classed Stags just after Christmas in an easy 2-0 win at Gigg Lane.

Stags managed to sneak a 1-0 win with 10 men at Wimbledon a week earlier, but the Dons are currently 11th and six points off the play-off places after losing only twice in 10 games.

On recent home form Mansfield are still very capable of winning both, and that would ease the worry over relegation and give boss Murray the chance to pitch in his youth team players and get them blooded which would be marvellous for the players and the fans.

But two defeats and suddenly the picture darkens as Stags then suddenly face a six-pointer at Hartlepool, another one at home to York followed by horrendous long hauls to promotion-chasers Southend and Plymouth sandwiching a home game with second-placed Shrewsbury.

Games could start running out and the pressure mounting.

Murray knows that and has rightly focused his players away from thoughts of beaches and suncream and on the task of finishing the job in hand as soon as possible.

Fans can also play their part in achieving that safety, players praising Stags supporters for their help in getting them over the line in recent games.

Now Mansfield have finally found a bit of form, it will be interesting to see if they can attract some of the so-called floating fans for this week’s two big home games in four days.

Crowds have been very poor this season, but there remains a feeling there are supporters out there who would return if their side were in a winning mood.

Well seven points out of the last nine and only one defeat in seven suggests they are in a bit of a groove, so let’s see.

Thankfully a goal by Kee last Saturday ensured my birthday wasn’t going to be tarnished by a defeat at Cheltenham.

It was a horrible game on a horrible pitch and Lenny Pidgeley will be forever grateful his sliced clearance, when an ill-advised Ryan Tafazolli backpass took a bobble on the uneven surface, went wide of goal.

Had it gone in, the TV would have screened it forever on Bloopers shows, which would have been harsh on a blameless Pidgeley.

In the end a fourth away point in five days was enough to be satisfied with and it was duly celebrated for my birthday along with a John Otway Big Band gig and copious amounts of beer in Bromsgrove further back up the M5 on Saturday night.

It was amusing to see groundsman Michael Merriman verti-draining the pitch last week as it looked for all the world like he was ploughing it up.

After Bury boss David Flitcroft’s daft accusations that Stags were doctoring the One Call pitch to spoil their hopes of playing football on it last season, the temptation to snap a photo last week and send it to Bury were so tempting, but I resisted.

But, let’s not forget what did happen when the Shakers arrived and gave us a real footballing lesson and a 4-1 hiding for that game last season. They are a class act and could be going up this season.

Here’s also hoping Junior Brown’s hamstring injury doesn’t prove too serious when he gets his scans results back as he has been a livewire in most of his appearances.