OPINION: Wembley dream not yet over for Mansfield Town
Despite a 2-1 loss against Wycombe Wanderers in the Checkatrade Trophy, the '˜Wembley dream' is still not dead for Mansfield Town fans.
Wycombe substitutes Scott Kaskhket and Adebayo Akinfenwa came off the bench to turn the game on its head for the Chairboys, having gone into half-time deservedly 1-0 down.
The loss saw the end of a decent cup run for Steve Evans’ Mansfield side; despite the loss, the Stags performed well but looked tired late on.
Mansfield fans must look at the positives after such a heartbreaking defeat; a major benefit of having no cup fixtures means that the club can focus solely on climbing up the league table, to try and make a late charge into the play-off places and secure a Wembley final at the end of the season.
Stags fans will hope that Evans can replicate his achievements with Rotherham. He guided the Millers to the Championship after winning the League One Play-Offs in 2014, having been promoted from League Two the season before.
Mansfield are currently mid-table, only three points behind Colchester United in seventh place.
However, a run of four wins out of five before the visit of Wycombe, conceding only one goal in the process, should give Town plenty of confidence.
Timely, given that Steve Evans must prepare his side for some important games in the next month, starting with lowly Leyton Orient on Saturday.
February consists of games against fellow play-off hopefuls Barnet and Grimsby Town, as well as winnable games against Hartlepool, Accrington Stanley, Yeovil Town and Newport County – all of whom sit towards the bottom of the table.
Manager Evans will be looking to extend his side’s unbeaten league run. In many ways, he will be looking to emulate the work of Tuesday’s opponent, Gareth Ainsworth of Wycombe.
Ainsworth’s side haven’t lost in the league since October after a shaky start to the season.
Mansfield kept Wycombe at bay for the majority of the game, and were unlucky to concede two late scrappy goals.
Town fans shouldn’t be disheartened after the defeat. If anything, it is a blessing in disguise, and Mansfield could find themselves at Wembley in the play-off final in May if their strong form continues.