Stags to go 'toe to toe' with promotion-chasing Newport County
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough insists his side will go toe to toe with promotion-chasing Newport County tomorrow (6pm).
Without a win in seven games, the Stags are desperate for points to reach mathematical safety while the Exiles' victory over Bolton on Easter Monday ended a run of three defeats that saw them slide down into the seventh and final play-off spot, though still only four points off the top three with a game in hand.
“We are expecting another game the same as the other top teams we've played – they are tough games,” said Clough.
“But we want to go toe to toe with them as we have with those other top teams in the last few weeks.
“That has been the most encouraging thing. We haven't been outplayed by them.
“We have been beaten by one of them – Cambridge – when we still played pretty well. On our day we think we are a match for the top teams. But we have to play very well and do our jobs.”
The race at the top is certainly hotting up and Clough added: “Newport do have pressure on and the league is so even.
“We are seeing a lot of the top teams drawing at the moment which is down to a bit of pressure as everyone is so desperate to try to get into the play-offs or automatic promotion.
“Morecambe had a chance to get into the automatics the other night but were held to a draw at home by Southend, who are second from bottom. That's how even the league is.
“We have found we have fared just as well against the top teams as we have the bottom.”
History is on Mansfield's side with seven successive home league wins over Newport under their belt.
Stags then get to have a breather after the recent hectic schedule.
“It will be nice to have the eight days after Newport before the last five games,” said Clough.
“Having this weekend off is important but it's important to go into it with a result as well.
“I know we haven't won for a few games but we've only lost the two, both self-inflicted, so we just want to go into the weekend on a good, positive result if we can.
“It's about time we won one, though if we can't win then don't lose.
“We should have turned some of our draws into wins but it's just as important we turn some of our defeats into draws.
“We know from the levels of performance when we've played the top teams that we're not a million miles away from them.”
Stags comfortably held Exeter 0-0 away from home on Monday and Clough added: “It was similar to draws we've had recently – a good performance and good point and we probably could and should have won. “We had enough chances throughout the game.”