Confident Stags face huge task to extend unbeaten away run at Oxford

Mansfield Town's Paul Cox  -Pic by:Richard Parkes
Mansfield Town's Paul Cox -Pic by:Richard Parkes

Mansfield Town take their new-found confidence to title-chasing Oxford United tomorrow aiming to extend an away run of two wins and two draws in their last four awaydays.

But Paul Cox and his side, who have only lost one in eight, know how hard it will be against an in-form U’s side with new manager Mickey Lewis still unbeaten since taking over and Oxford seven without defeat.

The U’s are third, four points off top spot and Cox said: “Teams up there deserve to be there and teams at the bottom deserve to be there. Consistency is the key.

“We were probably a bit unlucky at our place as Jamie McGuire was sent off early on. I thought we have a good account of ourselves in the second half and could have pulled back on level terms with the chances we had.

“Having said that, you look at their team and they have a player like Dave Kitson with 150 Premiership games. That’s what you are up against at this level.”

Stags’ home clash with Bury was postponed on Tuesday with Mansfield desperate to build on the momentum of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Southend, and he added: “The boys are in a bit of a mode at the moment and we wanted to play on Tuesday.

“But the pitch is probably the worst I have seen it since I’ve been here and half or even two thirds of it were underwater and we were never going to play on it.

“But the players have a bit of spring in their step, are working hard and look focused. Training is at a good tempo.

“We want to get to that 50 points mark as quickly as possible, though it may go beyond that this year as so many teams are even in this league with fine lines between winning, drawing and losing.

“It will be interesting in the last four or five games as it is so tight.

“I think the top seven are now nailed on – and rightly so. I can’t see anyone breaking into them.

“It’s becoming a bit like the Premier League. The rest of the sides are just hoping to finish mid-table to avoid getting sucked into the battle at the bottom.

“We just have to concentrate on our games as we can do nothing about other teams. It’s not about squads and money, it’s just about consistency.

“Everyone is looking for that 20 or 25-goal striker and I believe if we had a goalscorer in the Matt Green mould this year we would have won a hell of a lot more games.

“This season was always going to be a learning curve and we were never going to go straight through it – it is arrogant and condescending to the other clubs in this division to think we would.

“I do think we are going at the right speed. If you get promoted you want to do it with the right foundations. We have not got those at the moment.”

Cox said he wasn’t concerned about talk of possibly sharing One Call Stadium with Rotherham Titans Rugby Union Club next year, saying: “It is an uncontrollable and so not something I will worry about.

“I need to worry about making sure players fully focus on this season.

“You never know who will be around come next season. My concern is with the here and now and making sure we finish the season on a high.

“Next season is a million miles off.”