Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox has ordered his players to produce a ‘response’ from Friday night’s 3-0 setback at Southend when they face a potential FA Cup First Round banana skin at St Albans City on Saturday (3pm).
The Calor Southern League Premier side, three levels below Mansfield, provide Cox’s men with their first hurdle in this year’s competition as the Stags try to emulate last year’s superb cup run, which ended with a narrow home Third Round defeat by Liverpool.
But Cox has threatened to make changes after seeing his charges tamely surrender 3-0 at Southend last weekend, where they were also shown two red cards.
Said Cox: “Friday was not like us. If I didn’t come away from that talking about other options I wouldn’t be doing my job. I don’t think that was a Mansfield Town performance.
“It doesn’t matter who we play this weekend. A response is needed whether we are up against Manchester United or a team from non-League, with all due respect.
“We need to go out, win and bounce back. I am hoping a few players had their personal pride wounded on Friday.
“They are an honest bunch who don’t intentionally go out and not perform and Friday was only the second time this year I have had to question them.”
He added: “Look at our FA Cup run last year. It is embedded in the memory. But we had some rough times in the earlier rounds and needed replays almost every round.
“All I told the lads every time was just make sure you are in the hat for the next round. That will be the same on Saturday.
“I have been a giantkiller with Eastwood when we beat some very good League opposition – and it’s all about mindset.
“If we were on a run of four straight wins we could be going into this game over-confident.
“But St Albans are a good footballing side. They will be a stern test and it is a tough place to go. This is their cup final and they will be full of adrenalin. I hope we will be as well.”
A 2-0 midweek reserve win over Doncaster has given Cox options and he said: “I had boys out there really champing at the bit.
“I won’t make panic decisions but, ultimately, I need to respond to Friday. There was an unbelievable desire to get in the side and that has brought a smile back to my face. I know I have some hungry boys here.
“It’s not about being a name. It’s about having the desire to win, play well and be successful.
“There may be a few surprises on Saturday. Sometimes you have to shake the pack up.
“I still think we have made a half-decent start in a tough league. What I want more than anything is consistent performances. We have played quite well at times recently but not been winning games we should have won on chances created.”
The Saints went through October unbeaten, including a win over higher league opposition in Tonbridge Angels in the FA Cup, and this is their fourth home draw in five FA Cup games so far to reach this stage.
Boss James Gray warned: We’re on a good run and in a good place at the moment.”
A 3-3 FA Trophy draw with Billericay on Saturday meant the part-timers faced a replay last night.
On Saturday, Stags will be without suspended trio James Alabi, Lee Beevers and John Dempster as well as injured quartet Martin Riley, Ben Hutchinson, Chris Clements and Ryan Tafazolli. Hutchinson is having a scan on a groin problem this week.