Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans said no one was getting carried away with the eight game unbeaten run that has finally taken the club into the play-offs spots.
The Stags put Hartlepool United to the sword with a 4-0 home win today to move into seventh and now sit just six points off the top three automatic promotion places.
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However, at 2-0 up, Mansfield did labour for a while after the break until two more goals killed off the visitors and Evans said: “It wasn’t comfortable for a period of the second half.
“I don’t think we started the second half particularly well, but we’ve got a great group of player who want to learn and improve and we want them to do that if we are going to get involved towards the end of the season.
“When your team scores four and you don’t concede a goal you have a lot to be happy about. Individually, though, perhaps they need to ask themselves could they have done more today and the answer in some cases would be yes.
“I’ve said since I walked in, every player we’ve added, we’ve added with due care and made sure we’re signing players that have a fantastic attitude on good days and bad days.
“It was a mixed performance today but you score four goals and don’t concede, and I am a manager whose job is based on results, so you go away happy. But there is so much more to come from this group.”
Stags are back at home to Accrington Stanley on Tuesday and Evans said: “We won’t get too high. We’ll get back out on the training ground and prepare for Tuesday, which is a different proposition altogether.
“No one is getting carried away. If they do I will jump on them – and you don’t want me jumping on you as it won’t be very pleasant.
“There is no complacency. It’s just an expectation you’ve got a little bit more time than you have and instead of a player receiving a ball in two or three yards of space, suddenly there’s an opposition player on him as we’ve not given it him sharp enough.
“Thankfully Alex MacDonald came on and got us a goal with fantastic play. He is a wonderful talent and gets us a goal at a stage in the match when we’re probably not that happy. That settled everybody down and we could have scored as many as we wanted then.”
Ben Whiteman made it five goals for the Stags with a brace that took him to four in the last three games and Evans beamed: “I said when I signed him he was probably the one player Stags fans hadn’t heard of in all honesty, but I’d watched him for a little while.
“I am grateful to Chris Wilder and all the people up at Sheffield United. They really did make it happen for us. Ben wanted to come and he wanted to play.
“I look beyond football sometimes and he is a personable young man. He wants to improve and get better, as they all do, and he’s on the training ground asking us to do extra bits with him. He is a smashing lad and it helps when he gets the ratio of goals he is getting from midfield.”
Whiteman was one of four nominations for the League Two January Player of the Month award and Evans said: “I think he should have got January’s award though another gifted young man, Ollie Watkins, won that.”
Evans was happy to get into the top seven at last but believes automatic promotion is already beyond them.
“It’s a good position to be in and they will enjoy that result with their families and loved ones tonight – and so they should. But then we’ll be back in to work hard and get ready for Tuesday,” he said as preparations began for Tuesday’s visit of Accrington Stanley.
“It’s crazy thinking we can go into the top three. I have already said they have gone for us.
“But what I do know is that if we are seventh we can aim to be sixth. We can only objectively look at one place in front of us and sometimes when the points are tight, one or two places behind you.
“But it will now be about what we do as individuals and collectively. We will freshen it up a bit. We left CJ Hamilton out today, but he might come back in and there might be one or two more changes as we believe in and trust all our players.”
Once again the home fans, who thanks to the two for one ticket deal, numbered almost 4,000, made a lot of noise.
“It is very noticeable. The players are chatting about it in the dressing room,” said Evans.
“It was all though the game and they kept us going in a period at the start of the second half.
“We got a couple of goals in the first half – which is unusual for us – and looked to take it on.
“When we got that third goal the atmosphere was terrific. I want to give the people of Mansfield some terrific afternoon and terrific evenings. And we can only do that if we stay focused, work hard and improve.”
On a wintry day, he added: “Thanks to all the ground staff and all the supporters and everyone who turned up to clear the snow off there this morning. We are very grateful.”