Mansfield Town will be hoping to avenge last season’s calamitous 4-3 home defeat by Crewe Alexandra when the ever-dangerous Railwaymen return to the One Call Stadium on Saturday.
Almost 12 months ago, Crewe raced into a 4-1 lead inside 27 explosive minutes and, although Stags fought back to lose 4-3, it was a result that helped end play-off hopes.
However, a year on and sat in the top three, boss David Flitcroft said: “We have completely different personnel from last season now.
“Our players were not fit – they were not up to the levels required for League Two football.
“It’s a different moment now. Crewe were good on the day and cut us open granted.
“But we have the best home record in the league this season and they are coming to our place.
“We will have a game plan but we won’t come off what we have been doing at home too much.
“We have to make sure we hurt Crewe when we get the opportunity with the quality we have in our team.”
Although Crewe are stuck in mid-table as the end of season looms, Flitcroft watched them destroy Crawley 6-1 first hand last weekend and he warned: “There are no gimmes in this league – we saw that a few weeks ago with Morecambe and MK Dons. “There are no games you just accept there is going to be three points. It just doesn’t happen in League Two.
“We need to be intensely focused, intensely aware of our opponents and aware of what we have been good at this season.”
On his trip to Crewe, he added: “For a League Two game it was a really good one to watch.
“At three or four one, Crewe were ruthless and Crawley just gave up at that point. That’s how it looked – like one team had just thrown the towel in.
“Crewe could have settled for three or four but went for the jugular and got the six.
“There was some fantastic football played on the day and it was good to witness it first hand.
“I love getting out to live games as it gives you such a perspective. You absorb so much more information from the other scouting systems we use.”
He continued: “Having the game on Monday gave us the opportunity to train the lads on Saturday morning and get over to the Crewe game.
“For the first 15 minutes Crawley were in dominant mood and got the first goal. You thought it could really be ‘game on’.
“But then Crewe just went into overdrive with three lightning quick goals and took the fight out of Crawley. Their movement was good and they had a good energy about the team.
“They have good experience between the young players they have brought through from the academy with the experienced players brought in to guide them.
“It was a real Crewe performance – cutting edge quality. You will always get that when you come up against Crewe as they start doing it from five, six, seven-year-old.
“Their whole academy system is built from that – getting players into the team playing the Crewe way.”
Flitcroft said he had tried to use some of Crewe’s ideas at his own clubs in building raw youngsters up for first team action and selling on.
“I have always admired the Crewe way and over the last 12 years I have taken a lot of what Crewe do,” he said.
“Crewe will always do it the Crewe way. They have real belief in what they do as a football club. The manager has real belief in his players.
“I have to make sure our players put as much emphasis and focus on this game as they did the other night.
“When we have done that we have been excellent but when we have come off that three or four times this season we have been really poor.
“We will have to be absolutely on our mettle to get the three points on Saturday as Crewe are different to to nay other League Two team. They have their own philosophy and they have done well against the top sides this season.”