STAGS prepared for their mouthwatering festive battles with York City this week with manager Paul Cox’s half-term report reading ‘satisfactory, could do better’.
Last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Southport left Mansfield Town 10th in the BSBP, five points off the play-off places.
That leaves the side plenty to do still as they take on fourth-placed York at Field Mill on Boxing Day (3pm) and away at Bootham Crescent on New Year’s Day (3pm), looking to improve on a recent run of only one win and five draws in 10 games.
But Cox admitted: “All I have ever asked was that by Christmas we would still be in the pack of clubs chasing a play-off place.
“If you’d offered me 10th place, five points off the play-offs, in the summer at this stage, I’d have taken it.
“What is costing us is too many draws. If we’d turned half our draws into wins we’d be sat in the play-off places by now.
“We are on a very fine line between being a play-off side and a top 10 side.
“I can understand why some people are starting to moan as they are a bit anxious. They have seen this club get off to a good start the last two or three years and fall by the wayside in the second half of the season.
“But I think we are still on course for being in and around the play-offs. This time last year at Eastwood we were seventh from bottom and finished fourth.
“There will still be a side that comes up with a massive run to get in there and I think we are one of 10 sides that could get promoted.”
Cox was a very interested spectator at York on Tuesday where the Minstermen suffered a surprise 3-2 home defeat by Kidderminster Harriers.
“York are up there with Wrexham and Fleetwood as one of the best clubs in this league,” said Cox. “In the top half of the table everyone is very similar but the clubs right at the top just have that cutting edge to them.”
Cox, who is only expected to have suspended Ritchie Sutton plus injured pair Joe Kendrick and Rhys Day missing from his squad for Boxing Day, is hoping to look at a trialist or two again when he sends a side to Solihull Moors for a behind-closed-door friendly today (Thursday).