LOMAS ON STAGS: Mansfield Town head into the most crucial week of the season so far

Mansfield Town tonight begin the 10-game countdown to the end of a thrilling season with automatic promotion still in their own hands and possibly their most crucial week of the season so far ahead.

Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 2:24 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 2:24 pm

It is a far cry from having genuine relegation fears near the bottom of the table in October.

Whatever the outcome of tonight’s tough trip to Hartlepool United, Stags will still be the masters of their own fate.

Win their other two games still in hand and they are in the top three.

Delighted Mansfield Town midfielder George Lapslie celebrates his late winner against Oldham Athletic on Saturday. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger Picture.media

Win tonight as well and they truly are in clover.

And, with the next two games against two of the sides already in the top three, it makes the games at home to rivals Northampton Town on Saturday and on Tuesday away at leaders Forest Green Rovers both enormous six-pointers.

Mansfield go into those games in a fantastically strong position.

Stags did have that wobble of losing two on the bounce, But others are also feeling the pressure.

The Cobblers have lost two of their last four while Forest Green’s status as runaway leaders of the division was severely damaged by a run of seven games without a win, ending with that 1-0 victory at Colchester last week.

As Nigel Clough admitted this week, performances no longer matter, training is out the window with games coming thick and fast, it’s just a matter of knuckling down and patiently playing your instructed style of football right to the end with no late panic.

Sides that achieve usually tend to pull off what Stags enjoyed last week – two late winners in as many games when they had not hit top gear and vital points looked set to be thrown away.

One thing is certain – Stags need to hope they can keep Rhys Oates, James Perch and Stephen Quinn fit for these last nine games as the experience of the latter two and the sheer energy and eye for goal of the former can see them over the line.

Before last night all four sides in the play-off spots were locked on 63 points with Sutton United in 10th (61) and even Salford City in 11th (56) still in the mix for what looks set to be an absolutely thrilling last five weeks of maybe the biggest ever rollercoaster season Stags fans have experienced in their lives.