Oli Hawkins hoping for play-offs glory at the fourth attempt as Mansfield Town get set to take on Northampton Town

Oli Hawkins is hoping to taste play-off glory at the fourth attempt as Mansfield Town go into the League Two semi-finals against Northampton Town this weekend.

Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 5:22 pm

The big utility player has tasted play-off heartbreak before though has also been a winner at Wembley.

“I have been involved in play-offs in my time and lost two semi-finals at Portsmouth and a previous one in the Conference at Dagenham. So I know what it's like,” he said ahead of Saturday’s night’s first leg.

“It is intense and losing a semi-final is tough.

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Oli Hawkins in action against Northampton Town.

“You just have to concentrate and be relaxed. Hopefully my time this time will be winning a semi-final and I will see it differently.

“If you have not played in a play-off before it is an experience for a start and something you can learn from whether you win or lose.”

He added: “If you don't go up automatically then the next best thing is winning at Wembley.

“There is no better feeling. I have won there in the past in the Johnstone Paints final and winning there is the experience of a lifetime.

“So if we could win there and get promotion as well it would be amazing.

“The boys will have that fire in them just to get promoted. Throw Wembley in as well and it makes it even more exciting.”

Hawkins said Stags' superb home record of 13 wins and a draw in the last 15 games at the One Call Stadium is intimidating to visiting sides.

“Any team hates coming to us as we're so dominant at home,” he said.

“We are pretty strong at home and if we can get a good win it will calm us down going into the second leg knowing what we need.

“All we can do is play the same way we've played all season at home, play with a smile on our faces, and hopefully get a good victory to take away.

“Ideally we would have liked to have got automatic last weekend, but it didn't happen for us.

“But we have worked really hard and it's still an achievement to get into the play-offs.

“Now we really have to focus on the next two games and know we are capable of winning three games to get promoted.

“I think this week will drag out a bit – we are really looking forward to it.”

On opponents Northampton, he said: “They are a strong side and would have got promoted without Bristol Rovers having that mad game.

“They are big, strong and organised, but we have coped with them once at home.

“We know what they are about and what we need to do to win the game.”

In the meantime boss Nigel Clough has told his players to relax and spend some time with their families this week – ideal for Hawkins, who has just become a father for the second time.

“He is doing really well,” he said of his new-born.

“The first week is a bit of a blur. We are now into the second week. It's all new to me having a second child.

“The first one was hard enough so looking after a second one is keeping us on our toes.

“Having this time with family is very important and the gaffer does that very well with us. He always says about family first. Previously in my career managers have not been so lenient and you are in working hard every day, and getting home late.

“We need a relaxed mindset and hopefully by Saturday we will be up for it and ready to go.

“It's about being relaxed and not letting the tie take you over and worrying too much.”