LOMAS ON MANSFIELD TOWN: Reasons to be cheerful as Stags get taste of international break

Looking at the bigger picture, Saturday's nail-biting 1-0 home win over Carlisle United on Saturday was a massive win for Mansfield Town.

Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 4:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 4:16 pm
Timi Elsnik in action for Derby County.

After four League Two draws in a row, and letting a lead slip right at the death in their previous home game, it was so important Mansfield put a win on the board on Saturday.

A defeat would have left them with just one win in their opening six games and had Carlisle scored in their late push it would have created doubt in the minds of the players.

Footballers are only human and work greatly on confidence.

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Had Carlisle snatched a late equaliser there is little doubt it would have been a knock to that confidence and a section of frustrated fans would also have booed them off.

Instead Bobby Olejnik proved to be a late hero with his stoppage time save and everyone went home happy, though still shaking like leaves.

I don’t know about you but I can’t stand many more finishes like the two we have just enjoyed/suffered in the last two home games.

Stags had wasted enough chances to win three or four football matches and, we have all seen enough games to known what will happen near the end.

Carlisle threw the proverbial kitchen sink at them at the death and fans were on the edge of their seats, watching the four added minutes through gaps between their fingers.

It was heart-stopping stuff, but the final whistle left David Flitcroft’s men in a very happy place going into the international break (when did we ever think we’d hear that phrase used in conjunction with the Stags?).

So there are many reasons to be cheerful as a Stags fan right now.

It has now been a thoroughly satisfying start to the campaign with some added money in the coffers from the Carabao Cup, a new club record League Cup win chalked up, a bonus night out at a ‘Premier League’ standard ground, an almost fully fit squad, a top scorer who wanted to leave but is now staying to fight for a place, and the club sat in eighth place in the table, only outside the play-offs on goal difference and only two points off the top three.

With three of the next four scheduled League Two games at the One Call Stadium, it represents a fantastic opportunity to build on the good start and stake a firm claim to be in the promotion race.

A fully fit and motivated Danny Rose will be a huge boost to that and everyone was delighted to see the phone stay silent on deadline day.

Once Stags and Peterborough publicly said their business was done that afternoon, football being football, I could still envisage Steve Evans torturously meeting the asking price a few minutes before 5pm.

So it was a big relief that didn’t happen and now Rose can settle down and aim to hit the lofty heights he reached last season.

While most of our attention was centred on the ‘will he stay or will he go?’ Rose scenario, it would be easy to have missed the only deadline day move that did go ahead as Timi Elsnik signed for Mansfield on loan for the rest of the season from Derby County.

The 20-year-old central midfielder has represented Slovenia at U17, U18 and U19 level and was so well thought of at Derby that he was given a three-year pro contract after winning Scholar of the Year.

He has already had a taste of proper men’s football out on loan at Swindon Town under a certain David Flitcroft last season and, far from simply being cover for the likes of Jacob Mellis, he has enough talent to make a starting place his own this season.

So he is surely yet another reason to be cheerful as we head towards a rare ‘Stagless’ weekend.

However, there is plenty of local football at places like Shirebrook Town, Raiwnorth MW and Teversal to keep you ticking over and all these smaller clubs will make you very welcome.

There is also FA Cup action on Saturday down the road at Evo-Stik NPL Premier League Basford United where they face Staveley MW (3pm) and also on Sunday at AFC Mansfield in Forest Town as the Evo-Stik NPL new boys take on Stourport Swifts (3pm).

So there’s no excuse for not getting your football fix as we get a rare Mansfield taste of an ‘international break’!