Paul Cox continued to stay calm and not get over-excited about play-off possibilities as his in-form side stormed to a sparkling 3-0 humbling of league leaders Rochdale at One Call Stadium today.
The Stags’ 5,000th competitive game produced a fourth straight win which has catapulted them from the relegation battle to 10th, six points off the play-off zone with four games left to go.
However, the Stags boss said: “The way we are playing at the minute, without shouting it from the rooftops, I believe we are a match for anyone when we are in this mindset.
“Today we came up against a very good side that I believe will go on and get promoted quite comfortably. They have good players throughout the side and have been very consistent.
“We just did what we have been doing the last couple of months. We are in a nice rhythm and playing on the front foot. The lads are enjoying their football at the minute.
“Rochdale had the wind behind them in the first half. So when it dropped in the second half for us, you do start to wonder.
“All three goals came from set pieces which we work hard on and the boys have put their heads on the line.
“I always enjoy the business end of the season. I really don’t want it to end right now.
“People are now talking about play-offs when only a few games back we could mathematically have been relegated.
“All we can do is keep trying to win the next game. It’s in the lap of the gods. I want to finish the season as strongly as possible, in the highest position possible with as many points as possible.
“You always finish where you deserve to finish in the table.
“We have only lost three since Christmas which is testament to the lads. They have been superb.”
Dale manager Keith Hill was quick to write the game off and suggested it might be just the kick up the backside his team needed.
But he also said he was unhappy with referee Trevor Kettle, who booked five of his players but only one home player. “It was just a game of football in which we’ve been beaten,” he said.
“Possibly we might have needed that. It might help us.
“Let’s not make it a crisis. Let’s just focus on the next game.
“Putting it behind us is the easiest thing to do as we can’t affect this game again. We have come a long way this season and it’s not finished yet.
“It is a difficult place to come against difficult opposition.
“You can’t deny there is a physical element to the opposition and the way they play. I thought we dealt with it well for most of the game.
“I don’t want to say too much but I don’t understand why our players got booked. I expect our players to be treated similar to the opposition with respect to decisions.
“We were beaten by three set pieces which we have been excellent at.
“We had chances in the first half and a better pass or a better finish and it could have been a different story.
“Mansfield had won their last three games and they grew in confidence after they scored the first goal as players do.”