Mansfield Town face the biggest test of their recent new-found consistency when League Two leaders Rochdale visit One Call Stadium on Saturday (3.07pm) for what will be the Stags’ landmark 5,000th competitive game.
Mansfield have just reeled off three successive victories for the first time since September and, while now looking safe from relegation worries, could still yet shock everyone by sneaking into the play-offs, chasing down a seven-point gap with five games to go.
The Stags were given a footballing lesson in the 3-0 Boxing Day surrender at Rochdale, but manager Paul Cox said: “We are in a different place mentally from last time we played them and I hope we can give ourselves a good account of ourselves on Saturday.
“They are the team you look at to gauge where you are. Rochdale are a fabulous side that look like they will get promoted this season.
“But our mindset must be that we concentrate on ourselves and see if we can take the game to Rochdale and try to impose ourselves. It will be a good test for us.
“You have to give them credit for their consistency as they have been up there all season. That’s what I am looking for from my group of players. Consistent results have been in abundance this season for clubs like Rochdale, Scunthorpe and Chesterfield.
“This is a massive learning curve for us this season and we have to make sure we are learning.”
Not including games expunged, Saturday represents the 5,000th game for the club since they kicked off life in 1897 as the Mansfield Wesleyans.
James Jennings is available again after a two-game ban, though Anthony Howell misses out as he serves his second and final game suspended.
Lee Beevers will also be given as long as possible before a decision is made on him after his problem shoulder popped out its socket again early in Saturday’s stormy 1-0 win at Morecambe.
But Ben Hutchinson is also making a faster-than-expected recovery from a hamstring injury expected to rule him out for the season and could be back for the Good Friday game at Accrington Stanley next week.