Stags ‘excited’ about prospects of ‘sneaking’ into the play-offs

Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox.
Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox.

Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox said he and the players were ‘excited’ by the prospect of ‘sneaking’ into the League Two play-offs as an Easter weekend of destiny approaches.

After four straight wins, the Stags are just six points off the play-off places with four games to go and face a trip to Accrington Stanley on Good Friday before welcoming Cheltenham Town to One Call Stadium on Easter Monday.

The Stags sent out a warning to the rest of the league on Saturday when they deposed leaders Rochdale 3-0 on Saturday, and Cox ranks that result as one of the best so far.

“When you look at who we were up against and the season they have had and players they have got then it has got to rank up there,” he said.

“But we are keeping our feet firmly on the ground. For us it was just another win.

“Now the last four games are massive games for us.

“I don’t know if we’d have to win them all to make the play-offs. We are just going to go out there and enjoy the rest of the season. I would rather have four games with something to hang onto than our season being over.

“We are excited and I hope the supporters are excited. Whatever happens, I don’t want us to down tools and finish mid-table, even if we mathematically couldn’t make the play-offs.

“You have to grab everything you can in football. Whether this squad or club is ready for the play-offs only time will tell, but you have to be greedy in this game.

“You spend a lot of time in the wilderness without competing for trophies or being at the wrong end of the table. I am hungry and I know the players are hungry to finish the season as high as possible and see what we can achieve.

“We have to make sure we don’t take our foot off the pedal. You can plan for the future, but anything can happen at the end of the season. It’s only the here and now I can actually control at this minute.

“Over Easter we have two really tough games. I know I sound like a scratched record, but in this league, if you don’t respect it then it doesn’t respect you back.

“We have to go into these two games focused, probably more so than ever this season. If we have an outside chance of sneaking into the play-offs then we have to chase it.”

Of the sides above the 10th-placed Stags, there are a bewildering number of fixtures and permutations of results that give hints of how many points Mansfield might need to gatecrash the end of season play-offs.

“You can go cross-eyed looking,” he said. “I get more phone calls about it. But you finish where you deserve to finish.

“All I can do is get the players motivated and focused. It’s a really exciting run-in and that’s how we want it. I can’t think of a season as a manager where I’ve not had an exciting run-in.”