Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox refused to play down the importance of Saturday’s big local derby as relegation-haunted Mansfield Town look to complete a double over title-chasing neighbours Chesterfield at a packed One Call Stadium (1pm).
Football managers can have a habit of taking pressure off the players in derbies by saying it is just another game, but Cox said: “It is a big game, I won’t tell any lies, local derbies usually are. Saturday is massive for both clubs.
“But it is one of a number of games coming up that are huge.
“Saturday means a lot for both sets of supporters, players and staff.
“The main thing for us is to maintain our status in this League and, after Saturday, we know there are still another eight massive games to come. It is an exciting end to the season.”
So far it is honours even this season with Stags’ smash and grab 1-0 win at Chesterfield in September followed by a 1-0 away win in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for the Spireites a week later.
“I thought both were strange games to be honest,” said Cox. “ In the first game I thought Chesterfield were excellent, but we came away with a 1-0 win. But at home I thought we dominated the game without scoring and we ended up losing 1-0.
“You don’t usually know what you are going to get from a derby game. But as long as we apply ourselves right and focus then we will be okay. If we go about our job the right way we are a match for anyone in this league.
“Chesterfield have a good side and a good manager and they are geared to get promotion.
“The two clubs are in different places right now. They have that ambition to get out of this league while we want to maintain our status and build from there.”
Chesterfield, beaten 2-1 at Plymouth on Tuesday, have only won one of their last six away games and only won once in five games overall, but will be boosted by the knowledge that Stags’ home record this season has been poor until recently when they have won three of the last five.
“I don’t think Chesterfield losing in midweek will hinder them,” said Cox. “They have good players throughout with experience at this level and above.”
“At home in the last two years we had made this a bit of a fortress. But for some reason this season our away record is decent but our home record not as impressive.
“Sometimes our concentration levels at home need to better as we have lost two games late on and had games when we should have been out of sight and punished sides by scoring more goals.
“Hopefully the fans will get behind us, be as vocal as they have been, and cheer us on to a win.”
Mansfield are now on 43 points with nine games to go and Cox knows they don’t have enough points yet to be out of the mire.
He said: “I think we need to get into the early 50s. With clubs playing Saturday/Tuesday/Saturday, the league changes amazingly and it is so tight down there.
“If you don’t put consecutive results together you can get dragged into it. But the bottom two still have it all to do as games are running out. It is a hard one to call.”
Both sets of supporters should be aware that there is a maximum stay of one hour for any vehicle parked at Portland Retail Park, at the side of One Call Stadium.
A parking ticket will be issued if this stay is exceeded, local authorities have informed the club. The club has said that any away fans found in the home areas of One Call Stadium will be ejected without a refund for their ticket and will be subject to a dispersal order. Stags’ fans should be aware that the Sandy Pate Sports Bar will open from 11am for home fans only.
Only supporters with a valid match ticket can enter the bar. Sausage and bacon cobs will be available instead of foods on the normal menu.
The bar will re-open to the general public at 3.30pm, when the normal menu will also be re-available to order from. It should also be noted that the gate between the North Stand and Ian Greaves Stand will be closed throughout the day, following a request by the police. Stags fans should enter the stadium via Quarry Lane. The club has again reminded supporters that the match kicks-off at the earlier-than-usual time of 1pm and, based on police advice, no tickets will be sold on matchday under any circumstances.
Tickets can be bought from the One Call Stadium ticket office for home fans only by 6pm this Friday.