LOMAS ON MANSFIELD TOWN: Season can soar now as early clouds start to lift

Picture John Hobson/AHPIX LTD, Sky Bet League Two, Mansfield Town v Scunthorpe United, One Call Stadium, Mansfield, UK, 07/09/19, K.O 3pm''Matt Preston celebrates his goal making it 1-0''Howard Roe>07973739229
Picture John Hobson/AHPIX LTD, Sky Bet League Two, Mansfield Town v Scunthorpe United, One Call Stadium, Mansfield, UK, 07/09/19, K.O 3pm''Matt Preston celebrates his goal making it 1-0''Howard Roe>07973739229

What a difference a win can make.

It was a testing first month for new boss John Dempster with one win from eight games and up to 10 players unavailable.

But Saturday’s comfortable 2-0 win over Scunthorpe United marked a first home victory of the season, another clean sheet and a fine debut by new loan signing Conor Shaughnessy, who quickly showed why Dempster did not need to bring in another midfielder in the summer window.

The win moved Stags into the top half of the table just two points off the play-offs spots and suddenly things looked a little brighter.

With four more of the injured players coming back this week clouds were lifting further and fans can start making proper judgements on the manager and his selections.

Best news of all was 45 minutes in the reserves for goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik nine months after the sort of knee injury that can easily end someone’s career.

It is unlikely he will be pitched straight back into first team action. But a fully fit Olejnik will pile the pressure on Conrad Logan to keep his place and up the ante for new boy Aidan Stone.

Despite his band of critics, Logan has done little wrong this season. But many believe once Olejnik gets half a chance he will have the shirt back - and keep it.

The Austrian was immaculate during his long overdue run in the first team last season.

Of his 21 appearances, Stags lost just three times, two of them in big cup games away to higher league clubs and only once in the league at home to his former club Exeter City. He kept a clean sheet in nine of those games.

Saturday’s win against Scunthorpe was certainly far from perfect.

But three points, two good goals and a clean sheet against a club who were in League One last year when you are not in top gear is a good thing to be able to achieve.

What Stags now have to do is start to actually string some wins together for the first time. So far the best sequence has been the opening one with three draws followed by a win at Carlisle.

Avoiding defeat at a Crawley side in decent early season form on Saturday would be a great result to bring home as long as it was backed by a victory over Cambridge United on Tuesday night.

Looking at the squad this season I still find it hard to believe they won’t be up there in the mix. It’s still very early days and there is so much football still to play.

But there is no doubt a certain amount of pressure was starting to build on rookie boss Dempster.

Stevenage pulled the trigger early this week on Dino Maamria just nine games in with no wins and a failure to score in six of them. But they have not had the injuries and suspensions Dempster has had to deal with.

Everyone wondered what Dempster might produce in the transfer window and, away from the impressive captures of players like Nicky Maynard and Andy Cook, he has pulled rabbits like Shaughnessy and Kellan Gordon out the hat.

Now he is starting to have his assets actually available to play and gel, it’s going to be a fascinating few weeks as hopefully the season belatedly takes off big time!