STAGS v SPIREITES COUNTDOWN: Forgotten man Murray relishing derby

Wimbledon's Peter Sweeney takes evasive action as Mansfield captain Adam Murray hits a long ball out to the left wing during the first half
Wimbledon's Peter Sweeney takes evasive action as Mansfield captain Adam Murray hits a long ball out to the left wing during the first half
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Adam Murray is relishing his unlikely involvement in tomorrow’s eagerly-anticipated home derby game with Chesterfield (1pm).

The Stags’ assistant boss, who didn’t play in either of the earlier derby games this season, has spent much of the season out of contention until a surprise recall three games ago since when he has kept his place.

“I am doing my best after another period without games,” he said.

“I have kept myself ticking over and, having come through three games straight, hopefully I will start feeling the benefits of that if I am selected on Saturday.”

With Chesterfield chasing the title and Stags battling relegation, Murray knows Saturday’s derby has even more pressure riding on it.

“It gives extra bite to the occasion with the predicament both clubs are in at different ends of the table,” he said.

“The atmosphere that comes with the game is special - the tension that rides on it. It’s not just about the the three points, it’s about pride and the bragging rights.

“Players are aware of how big a game it is.

“These games always come with a lot of baggage and if you can come out with the three points you get that extra special buzz.

“It would be a massive double with everything that comes with the game. You can’t really put a price on it.”

But, despite the hype, Murray said it still all boiled down to 11 on 11 and the players would take the extra pressure on board without fear.

“We get paid to play in these kind of occasions and we are professional sportsmen,” he said.

“Take away all the razamataz and it is 11 versus 11 with three points at stake. You have to break it down and nearer kick-off players’ minds focus on the football alone.

“Form and expectations go out of the window. It’s like a cup tie, that special atmosphere and special feeling and it will be all about who can handle that best on Saturday.”

He added: “It is a bit weird kicking off early as you have to move your routines forward a bit and eat things for breakfast you probably wouldn’t normally.”

Murray admitted that you cover less ground as you get older and make the ball do the work.

“You use you head more as you get older and last Saturday I probably played in a 40x40 square and tried to dictate play by using my mind and making sure people around me did their jobs,” he said.

“You start to see the picture a bit more clearly. The senior boys here help each other out as well as the younger boys and if I can get someone running for me then brilliant.

“It’s more about the recovery as you get older. It seems to take a bit longer getting out of bed the next morning than it used to.”

Murray added: “It has been a weird season with a few highs and some really bad lows.

“No one expected the start we made and that gave some people a different view on things than if we’d started badly but survived. It has been eventful and an experience for everyone. We have had to learn quickly.”