LOMAS ON MANSFIELD TOWN: Late leveller underlined Stags’ growing belief and unity

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Cheltenham Town v Mansfield Town; 03/11/18  KO 15:00; The Jonny Rocks Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Mansfield's Tyler Walker celebrates his stoppage time equaliser at Cheltenham
Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Cheltenham Town v Mansfield Town; 03/11/18 KO 15:00; The Jonny Rocks Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Mansfield's Tyler Walker celebrates his stoppage time equaliser at Cheltenham

It’s still early days yet, but the late equaliser at Cheltenham Town last weekend spoke volumes for the unity and belief that David Flitcroft is building into his Mansfield Town side.

On a day when a succession of midweek fixtures caught up with one or two players and the side were clearly below par in the first half, this was a very important point.

When good sides are not on their best form they find a way to avoid losing a game, and on this occasion it was a stoppage time equaliser from Tyler Walker that did the trick.

Cheltenham were no great shakes last season and Mansfield, under Steve Evans, were well beaten there by a 3-0 scoreline.

This season the Robins are desperate for a first home League Two win and, having netted six goals in a midweek Checkatrade Trophy against Arsenal U21s, they were on a rare high on Saturday.

Having gone ahead, it was a shock to the system to see Mansfield’s usually rock-solid defence then cough up two goals in sloppy fashion.

But they dug deep and gained a just reward in the end.

Most fans were delighted also that it was the under-pressure Walker who had ended the week with three goals in two games and already reached the 10-goal mark with two months to go to the turn of the year.

The Forest loanee had gone off the boil in front of goal with a seven-game drought, though he never stopped working tirelessly for the cause.

He got his reward with a midweek goal at Crewe and followed that up with his brace at Cheltenham.

That should hopefully now boost his confidence and help him on his way to the magic 20-mark.

However, allowing for injuries and loss of form, I still think Mansfield need one more for that department when the window opens in eight weeks time.

The Cheltenham trip ended a gruelling period of four away games in five and tonight’s visit of Grimsby Town is the first of four successive home games for the travel-weary players and fans.

Charlton Athletic should provide us an entertaining FA Cup first round tie on Sunday lunchtime.

And I will be very interested to see if Stags then suffer their worst-ever home attendance two days later when Scunthorpe United visit in the final Checkatrade Trophy group game.

Stags have already qualified, so the only interest is to see the home side at least draw on Tuesday to make sure they top the group and get a home tie in the next round.

I am sure Flitcroft would love to make wholesale changes for this one and rest up some of his tired players and give some young ones a chance.

But strict competition rules make that more difficult – and rightly so as the other three sides in the group will all still harbour a dream of going all the way to Wembley, with the money that brings, and all three of the other group sides can still qualify in that second spot.