Mansfield Town insist they remain underdogs and feel no pressure as they make the long haul to second-placed Plymouth Argyle this weekend for one of the toughest test of the season so far.
Stags arrived at Home Park in fourth place and fine fettle after three wins on the bounce followed by a superb 2-2 draw away to third-placed Oxford United on Tuesday.
“We are enjoying where we are at the minute,” said manager Adam Murray.
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“We’re enjoying proving people wrong and I keep saying to the boys, let’s not worry about the league, let’s just worry about the next game.
“We are having a very good season, so let’s just enjoy it.
“We are not expected to get anything on Saturday, so we can go there with no pressure on us and try to beat them.
“They have got to beat us to stay in the top three and try to catch Northampton. They expect to get promoted this season.
“That wasn’t our main target this year, so we will go there and enjoy it on Saturday and fight to try to beat them.”
Using the ‘horses for courses’ principal, Murray said he may tweak the line-up and formation at Plymouth.
“We are having a lot of rest and recovery time but at the same time we’re working on our game plans that we feel can get different results against different opposition,” he said.
“Plymouth will be another massive test for us. They are in their position in the league for good reason. They are a very good team.
“So we are going to have to go there and set up in a way that we feel will get the best out of that game.
“On Tuesday we ended up playing five different formations. But that is the beauty about this squad. Tactically they are very aware.
“They take the information on and then carry it out. We’ve got three or four systems we can play within a game. Whatever one we start with, we can flip it in the game and be effective doing that. That is a strength of ours.
“We will set up a game plan. It will be different to Tuesday as it is a different enemy, and we will try to win the game.
“We will do a lot of work over the next 48 hours then we’ll go to battle with an excellent Plymouth side.
“The boys are in good spirits. Sometimes you just have to go with the momentum and go with the flow.
“After Saturday’s game people looked at the next two games and said anything would be a bonus as they are two of the top three teams in the league.
“Plymouth will be expected to beat us at home – brilliant.”
The sides drew 0-0 at One Call Stadium back in September and Murray admitted: “I think in the first 10 minutes we should have been two down, but we managed to get ourselves back in the game.
“It was a very cagey game and a hard-fought game for both teams. It was the same as Oxford here – two very similar performances.”
Stags are gathering their breath after two days in four games this week, but Plymouth have had their feet up since 30th January due to their game at Yeovil being postponed last weekend and Murray said: “That can work both ways for both teams.
“We are going off adrenaline at the minute. We’ve got a lot of momentum, a lot of energy, so we are in game mode.
“When you haven’t played for a couple of weeks it takes you maybe a game to get going again or you come back fresh. They will have had their own way of preparing. “We know the pitch isn’t the best there at the minute, normally it’s a carpet. So it will be interesting to see how that plays out. We’re looking forward to the game.
“After Plymouth we’ve got another tough group of games. So we are going to keep ticking each one off, see how many points we can get this season, and then continue our building and our process for next year.”
But Mansfield will head south full of confidence after Jack Thomas’ 89th minute header earned a deserved draw at Oxford in midweek.
“It was a game of mixed emotions,” said Murray “For the first half an hour we were the better team and we dominated in terms of controlling the game.
“We knew they would have a lot of possession as they are a very good team with very good players. We knew we were going to have to be patient, but we created the better chances in the first 30-35 minutes.
“When they got the goal it swung momentum a bit, so we had to re-jig a bit. We were disappointed with the goals we gave away because we are better than that defensively.
“Overall it was good to get a point, and to score in that manner is always nice – I think Jack enjoyed it.
“Nobody outside this room expected us to get anything from Oxford. We believed we could go there and affect them. We knew it would be tough – we’re not stupid. I think it proved more to other people than ourselves than we are capable of competing and it was a big point for us.
“It continues our good run of form and results. But like we said a few weeks ago, we are not going to get carried away with it.”
He added: “We do have a couple of injuries I am concerned about for Saturday and they will be last minute calls.
“We will give the boys as long as we can to make a decision, so they will travel with us and it will be a Saturday morning call.
“One we are hopeful on, the other is more of a worry. But we will see.”