Stags boss ready for Grimsby banter in ‘derby’ showdown

Mansfield Town's Manager Steve Evans - Pic Chris Holloway
Mansfield Town's Manager Steve Evans - Pic Chris Holloway

Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans is expecting plenty of stick from the home fans when Stags travel to Grimsby Town on Saturday – but is looking forward to renewing the banter.

Evans is delighted to see the Mariners back in the Football League and sees them as a possible Championship club.

But Stags will be aiming to extend their unbeaten League run to 10 games after Tuesday’s astonishing 4-4 home draw with Accrington – and they will be backed by an army of over 1,000 fans in a game that always has a touch of the ‘local derby’ feel about it despite the miles separating the clubs.

Grimsby have slipped out of the play-off race at the moment after four games without a win and are down to 13th, while Stags remain seventh.

“Blundell Park is a fantastic place to go and play football,” said Evans.

“I get plenty of stick there, but the supporters are tremendous. They get right behind their team.

“But we’ll take a good support too and we are going to focus on ourselves.

“I don’t care if Grimsby haven’t won for four or 44, they are of no concern to me.

“It’s what we do at Blundell Park that will be the difference if we come away with another point or three points or no points.”

He added: “They should never have gone out of the Football League.

“We often say that about teams. Lincoln City are down in the Conference and they should never be there. But sometimes chairmen pick a manager and he’s not right for the football club, though, of course, those chairman want to get it right.

“But Grimsby are certainly a top end League One side if not a Championship club. That’s where their ambitions and aspirations should lie.

“It is a Football League club every day of the week.”

Stags will quickly come face to face with their former midfield ace Chris Clements when he tries to help Grimsby Town complete a double over his old club.

The talented play-maker was the Stags’ longest serving player when he made the switch to the Mariners last month in a five-figure deal, striker Adi Yussuf also making the move to Blundell Park in the same window.

Evans said: “The one thing we know is that he is a wonderful player.

“He is also a wonderful young man, who conducted himself in the few days before he left in just an exemplary fashion, as did young Adi Yussuf.

“They are two kids who we just didn’t see as part of our journey going forward, but I told the chairman they’d go somewhere – it’s turned out to be Grimsby – and they will play a big part in someone else’s future as they are both good footballers.

“We just have to believe it wasn’t just about this season, but going forward that we had to recruit a different type of player to take us our journey.

“But it will be good to see them and I can say nothing but plaudits about both of them, which I did to Grimsby when they spoke to me about both of them.”

Evans added: “I wasn’t party to the defeat down here but you don’t want any team to get a double over you in the season.

“When I joined Mansfield, Grimsby were one of the teams that were in the play-offs and doing tremendous things.

“Their manager Marcus (Bignot) is a guy I don’t know, though I know him as a player of course, and I think he’s done a wonderful job since he went in there under John Fenty.

“They spent a bit of money in the window, including giving us a tidy wee sum for Clem. They will be focused and determined and Blundell Park is always a difficult place to go. It’s right on the sea and can be blustery. I’ve never been there on a warm day.

“But we’ll go there and once again, genuinely, it will be what we do and not about what Grimsby do. If we play in a certain fashion than we’ll be competitive in the game. If we go a yard down then we’ll get beaten, simple as that.”