Stags chase rare third win on the bounce at Darlington

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MANSFIELD Town head for Darlington on Saturday (3pm) looking for a third successive league win for the first time since October 2009.

A 3-0 home win over Kettering last Saturday was followed by a superb 1-0 win at Stockport on Monday.

But, despite being held 1-1 at home by Alfreton recently, Darlington will prove formidable opposition, fourth in the table, only having lost once all season at Tamworth.

“It is a stunning ground and a beautiful pitch and, to be fair, a club that could be there or thereabouts at the end of the season,” said manager Paul Box.

“It will be a really tough game for us. But we have taken points off potential championship winners Luton and Stockport and, as long as we keep progressing in the right way, I will be happy.

“I was told the odds of winning both games over Bank Holiday are really slim so it was immense to get six points. It is testament to how hard the lads are working at the minute.

“The performance at Stockport wasn’t the best in terms of fluidity of football, but as far as grinding out a result goes, it was excellent.”

With no new injury problems, it is likely Cox will stick with the same team at Darlington though Tom Naylor, who is being tailed by other clubs all the way up to the Premiership, is back from suspension while fellow defender Martin Riley is recovering from a foot injury and could also be back in the frame.

Anthony Howell will be hoping his displays in the last four games will keep him the shirt ahead of the far more experienced Paul Bolland and Jon Worthington.

“I have some good selection headaches ahead,” said Cox. “No one believes that after two wins we will now just sail into the sunset and win the championship.

“There are going to be twists and turns and I know there will be bad times round the corner. So I need to have players fit mentally and physically to come in when I need them and not, in the meantime, feel left out of things.

“It’s not about how good the 11 is, it’s how good your squad is. I want players champing at the bit who are as good as the ones in the side.”

Darlington said farewell to two strikers this week in Michael Smith, who has joined Charlton, and Tommy Wright, who has left by mutual consent.

But they have brought in Spanish midfielder Jonatan Sanchez-Munoz who could make a debut on Saturday if his international clearance comes through in time.

Former Stags winger Adam Rundle could also line-up against his old club.