LOMAS ON STAGS: Top three gone, but play-offs firmly still in Stags’ sights

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Luton Town v Mansfield Town; 2/4/18  KO 15.00; Kenilworth Road; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Alex McDonald sees his effort saved by Luton keeper James Shea
Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Sky Bet League Two; Luton Town v Mansfield Town; 2/4/18 KO 15.00; Kenilworth Road; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Alex McDonald sees his effort saved by Luton keeper James Shea

Despite their alarming slide down the table since boss Steve Evans walked out on them, Mansfield Town still have every chance of making the play-offs.

After the toughest of Easters failed to yield a point the top three automatic promotion places are now beyond them.

But the play-offs are not and the six games Stags have left are all against sides in the bottom half of the table - and a home win against struggling Crewe this Saturday would work wonders for morale both on the pitch and in the stands after seven games without a win.

It always looked a tough ask for any points over Easter when Stags had to play the top two.

But, now those are out of the way, Mansfield face a very inviting final run of games.

New manager David Flitcroft is still looking for his first win after six games in charge.

But, showing great understanding as to the size of his task in taking over, fans have stuck with him and the players as they can see how close they are turning round this miserable run.

At home to Accrington on Friday, how would Stags have fared had left back Mal Benning not gone in ridiculously high on Billy Kee so early in the game and left his side with 10 men for 77 minutes?

And at Luton on Monday, had Stags taken one of several chances to go in more than 1-0 up or Lee Angol have accepted his golden chance at 1-1, they could have brought home the bacon instead of suffering a defeat.

With that result the dream of a top three place, that looked so promising a month ago, was over.

However, the play-offs remain firmly within their sights, sitting eighth and just two points outside.

It’s fine lines at the moment, but sides above the Stags have to play each other and supporters have largely shown they are sticking with it and staying behind their side.

Stags will need them more than ever on Saturday against a Crewe side, without any real pressure on them now, who had taken seven away points from nine before losing at Barnet at the weekend.

With a 10 point gap between them and the drop zone now it seems former Stags man Dave Artell has preserved their League status for another year and they can afford to come and enjoy their day at the One Call.

So Stags and their supporters are going to need to stay patient and make things happen.

A win and hopes are raised again, tension relieved and belief will come flooding back for the last five games.

However, anything less and a season of such promise may be on its way to a heartbreaking conclusion.