EVEN though Darlington are in dire straits, Paul Cox urged fans to enjoy Tuesday’s 5-2 victory and keep the faith as Stags edged closer to the play-off zone.
The win quickly dispelled the misery over last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Newport which Cox believes was down to the lack of match sharpness due to the bad weather.
“We have scored five goals tonight so let’s celebrate that. You should never turn your nose up at five goals,” he smiled.
“I don’t want to disrespect Darlington who played with no fear and deserve a big pat on the back tonight. They really made a football match of it.
“It was a no-win game as everyone expected us to beat Darlington and if we had drawn or lost people want to hang you. So we were professional, did the job and got on with it.
“Three points off the play-offs with a game in hand, we are sat nicely in there and are giving ourselves a chance.
“We might – and it’s a massive might – be successful this season still. Every day I have been here people have been questioning us. Well if we get our heads down and carry on working hard I believe we can be successful this season.”
He added: “We hadn’t played for three weeks on Saturday and it showed. We are playing catch-up on our sharpness and fitness. A lot of sides played games when we didn’t and it did affect us.
“Tonight we looked stuck in third gear at times in the first half and you could tell the match sharpness we usually have wasn’t there. But the longer the game went on, we got sharper and stronger and the more games we play at the moment the better. I can’t wait till they come thick and fast.”
Although Matt Green stole the headlines with a hat-trick, substitute wingers Louis Briscoe and Lindon Meikle were key figures in Stags’ second half surge to victory.
“Two massive positives for me tonight were Louis Briscoe and Lindon Meikle who both showed how hungry they were,” said Cox.
“Louis was looking like his old self and I said to him in the dressing room – welcome back! He deserved his goal.
“I don’t think I was on his Christmas card list and he asked me on Saturday why I didn’t play him. But he trained like a Trojan yesterday and you could tell by his goal celebration how much it meant to him.
“Lindon also did well. As soon as he came on he put people onto the back foot and he looked fresh after his break.
“If we get Louis and Lindon back playing how they can for the last 14 games, one or two defenders are going to be having nightmares.
“The fans played a massive part tonight too. When things were not going particularly well for us early on the fans were patient with us which helped massively.
“You could have heard a pin drop when Darlington scored early on and the longer it went on the more anxious we became. Players thrive on confidence and you can be knocked back.
“We were awful on Saturday so our performance tonight improved ten-fold. But there is more to come.”
On hat-trick hero Green, he added: “We try to play to Matt Green’s strengths here. It’s a two-way thing and I think we are getting out of him what no one else has been able to. It’s all about putting quality balls in behind the defence for him.”
Green, who now has 21 goals, said: “It’s always nice to score a hat-trick.
“Finishing the league’s top scorer is always something I keep an eye on but, to be honest, it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t as long as I keep doing my job for Mansfield.
“Saturday put a downer on our weekend but that was a great result tonight. Keep getting the three points on the board, the rest will take care of itself.”