STAGS boss Paul Cox has warned his high-flying Stags side not to underestimate the size of their task as they head to struggling neighbours Lincoln City tomorrow night (7.45).
Managerless City are hovering precariously above the drop one while Mansfield, still basking in the glory of Saturday’s superb 3-2 win at Luton Town, have now won seven out of their last eight games and six of the last seven aways.
So Cox’s men will head for Sincil Bank clear favourites against an Imps side who have only won once in 12 games – a run that saw former Mansfield boss David Holdsworth sacked last week.
Cox was happy to let his players enjoy the Luton win over the weekend, but warned: “Tomorrow is a different game mentally and we have got to go into it in the right kind of mindset.
“We had a tremendous result on Saturday. But we have to keep ourselves level as this is a local derby.
“We will be taking a lot of supporters with us and we have to go there and put in the same kind of performance as we did at Luton. Nothing else will be good enough.
“We knew what was needed at Luton. We have to approach the Lincoln game even more hungry or these kind of games can, ultimately, find you out.”
If results went their way, Mansfield could leap as high as second tomorrow night and are currently only five points off top spot with a game in hand.
But Cox is not thinking about titles. “We are just enjoying playing catch-up,” he said. “The players are enjoying their football and the supporters are enjoying their football.
“I know it could all go sour tomorrow. Nothing is ever won in February and there will be lots of twists and turns before the season ends. There is a long way to go and we just want to stay there or thereabouts.”
Stags are expected to be at full strength, though there are slight concerns about four players.
Anthony Howell missed the Luton game after feeling a knee injury picked up in training during the pre-game warm-up. It was still sore this morning but he is hoping another 24 hours and some ice will do the trick.
Keeper Alan Marriott, heading back to his former club, felt a tightening in his groin at Luton, but Cox said: “He was still kicking okay late on so hopefully he will be okay.”
Skipper Adam Murray took a heavy kick to the leg, but soldiered on and is having a lighter pool session day today, while full back Lee Beevers suffered the agony of a dislocated shoulder, but also battled on, Cox adding: “I spoke to him Saturday night and I think he will be feeling a bit sore this morning. Apart from that I am sure he will be fine.”
Next Tuesday’s trip to Woking has been moved on 24 hours to Wednesday night as the home side were concerned their attendance could be hit by TV coverage of Manchester United v Real Madrid.
The move has upset a few Stags fans, who had booked time off work to go to the Tuesday date, but Cox said: “I can’t speak for Woking, but they contacted us and asked if we would move the game and we agreed to it.
“I just thought it would give our lads an extra 24 hours rest and recuperation.”