AFTER the most surreal weekend of his life, Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox today urged his players to take the second half of the season by the scruff the neck and gain promotion.
Cox was married on Friday before seeing his magnificent side almost pull off an FA Cup upset when they were pipped 2-1 by seven-times winners Liverpool in the home third round tie on Sunday on his 41st birthday.
“On Monday I had a day of reflection and contemplation, looking back over the weekend and looking forward,” he said.
“With the wedding, my birthday and Liverpool, the whole weekend was a bit surreal. I don’t think a weekend like that will ever come round again.
“I can’t predict the future, but I hope I am not going to get married again.
“But I do hope I am involved in games of this calibre again. It has whetted my appetite and it should whet the appetite of the players and supporters too.”
He added: “I have given the lads a couple of days off to recoup physically, level themselves out and let the dust settle.
“They will have played the game over and over in their heads – the noise, the sounds, the smells. They take time to filter out.”
Now the Stags begin a fearsome run of league games, playing almost every Tuesday for the rest of the season, with a tough home clash with in-form Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday (3pm), followed by a trip to Stockport on Tuesday (7.45pm). And Cox said consistency was now the key to promotion success.
He said: “We now need to take this season by the scruff of the neck. We haven’t even played half our league games yet. We hadn’t been doing too badly when we lost to Alfreton as I think it was only one defeat in 11. But we now need to up the ante for the second half of the season.
“The national newspapers all commented this week how Liverpool were hanging on at times on Sunday against us. If we play with that kind of purpose, desire and hunger in the second half of the season we will win more than we lose and be up there in the pack chasing promotion.
“It is all about being consistent now. That is the key. The sign of a great side is not a cup team. It’s about doing consistently well in the league. Even clubs like Manchester United have their ups and downs in cup competitions but are always consistent in their league results.
“Some of our players came out of Sunday’s game with an incredible amount of credit. That will disappear if there is a lull in their performances.
“We are playing Saturday, Tuesday pretty much right the way through the rest of the season now. But sometimes I quite enjoy that as there is not time to think.
“We had a big crowd there on Sunday and the atmosphere was amazing. I hope they left the ground feeling proud of the players and I hope some of them will now come back, too, and get behind us for the rest of the season.”