LOMAS ON STAGS: Stags in fine fettle heading into manic festive period
Despite a bad day at the office at Crawley for the Stags at the weekend, the club are in a fine position in League Two as the madness of the festive period and opening of the January window hurtle towards us.
It doesn’t seem long ago we were playing those early season games with manager Steve Evans saying all he expected from his new-look squad was to be in and around the play-off chasing pack at the end of the year.
Barring a couple of calamitous results against Yeovil and Morecambe over the next two weekends, that goal will be comfortably achieved.
The disappointing 2-0 defeat at Evans’ former club on Saturday saw the Stags slip out of the top seven, but only on goal difference.
Evans had a few harsh words to say afterwards and, with no midweek game, you can bet training will be fast and furious as so many quality players battle it out for a place in Saturday’s starting XI against Yeovil.
It’s a moot point whether Stags were 12 unbeaten before Crawley.
Does a 1-1 scoreline followed by a loss on penalties constitute a draw or a defeat?
Either way Mansfield were definitely seven League Two games unbeaten as they headed to Broadfield Stadium, but the run ended with more of a whimper than a bang.
Inevitably a small section of supporters have lost their heads on social media this week, but thankfully the sensible majority have put the drama queens back in their place.
Mansfield Town will not win every game for the rest of this season and that is a fact.
Even Steve Evans would admit things are far from perfect or as he would want them right now.
Yes, some players have not performed at their peak yet, the side do sometimes send it too long too soon with good ball-playing midfielders getting by-passed and Stags are still not scoring as many goals as they should on chances created.
It is a work in progress.
But the club are in the thick of a genuine promotion challenge – a far cry from the situation during the final seasons of Paul Cox and Adam Murray.
Yeovil arrive on Saturday with boss Darren Way under extreme pressure from supporters after four defeats and a draw in their last five League Two matches left them 20th and only out the drop zone on goal difference.
Only two points above them are Morecambe, who visit the One Call Stadium a week later on the Saturday before Christmas.
After two draws and a defeat in League action, the Shrimpers pulled off a fine 2-0 home win over Coventry on Saturday without which they’d be in the relegation area today.
Ex-Stag Vadaine Oliver scored the first of those goals.
With Steve Evans’ words still stinging in their ears after Saturday’s defeat Mansfield will fancy a maximum haul from those two home games which will almost certainly see them in the play-off spots for Christmas.
Within a week of that Evans will then be able to start fine-tuning his side in the January window for what should be a thrilling second half of the season.