MANSFIELD Town head to Blundell Park tonight (7.45pm) looking to lay to rest the ghost of last year’s 7-2 humiliation at the hands of Grimsby Town.
The Mariners made it a very unhappy New Year for Stags almost exactly a year ago on 1st January and, ominously, they trounced Stockport County 7-0 last week.
But boss Paul Cox, who recently suffered the indignation of being at home ill while his depleted side lost 5-0 at Fleetwood said: “I was kicking the dog and kicking the cat listening to our defeat at Fleetwood. I hate losing, let alone by a score like that.
“But the law of averages says that everyone will suffer them. Even Manchester United with the best manager in football history got tonked. It’s how you react to the result in the next game.
“We won’t be resting on our laurels at Grimsby as we know how tough a game it will be.
“But we now need to kick on and put some consistent results together.
“After the last two performances the lads should be relishing the Grimsby game, whatever the weather throws at us there.
“Grimsby’s supporters, like a lot in our league, will be disappointed with there they are as expectations are high. Some massive clubs are under-achieving.
“But I can guarantee that one team will come out of the pack to challenge for promotion and Grimsby have everything in their armoury to do that.”
Cox has used a new 4-3-3 formation in the last two games which has seen a big improvement in from from his side and, provided midfielder Aman Verma shakes off a bout of illness, intends to keep the same side tonight.
That will mean more frustration for new loan signing Marcus Kelly who is desperate to make his debut.
“I could only play five loan players at Bath and Marcus tweaked his calf muscle,” said Cox.
“He is fit now but, after the way we played on Tuesday, I didn’t want to change things on Saturday – if it’s not broken, don’t mend it- and I don’t want to change them tonight if I can help it.
“I have given Anthony Howell a breather. But Marcus has been the unlucky one.
“I know Marcus has the potential to be one of the best players in the Conference. That’s the hard thing when you’re doing well. You have to make some horrible, tough decisions.
“I am sure he will be a crowd pleaser here and an instant favourite.”
On 1st January, loanees Kelly, Aman Verma and Matt Green are all expected to sign on the dotted line for permanent deals which frees those loans back up for other players if needed.
“We have a really hectic period ahead and I wanted quality in depth to cater for every scenario,” added Cox.
“I may bring more in when we get to January. I still feel I need a big strong centre forward as a Plan C for when we need to get the ball into the box in the last 15 minutes.”
Back on 8th October, Stags beat a Grimsby side featuring ex-Stags Scott Garner, Rob Duffy, Craig Disley and, as sub, Gary Silk, 2-1.
And Paul Cox’s men have still only lost once in their 10 away league games this season.