CHAD LATEST: STAGS WARNED - NO LET UP
Stags warned - no let-up
MANSFIELD Town's players have been warned 'no let-ups' as they warm up for the Third Division play-offs with the final regular season game at home to Northampton this Saturday (3pm).
With nothing at stake for the home side other than pride, it would be easy for players to ease up a little and be thinking more about the forthcoming play-offs.
They could also rest on their laurels after ruining Huddersfield Town's promotion party with a stunning 3-1 win at the McAlpine Stadium on Saturday.
But manager Keith Curle warned: "I want to see us end the season on a high and go into the play-offs in top form.
"I want to see us beat Northampton for our supporters, who have seen a lot of ups and downs this season but the majority have stuck with us. I want to give them the performance they deserve.
"I am a great believer in that you cannot turn performances on and off.
"It's like a tap. It is much easier to turn a tap on when it's already dripping. Then we will let it go full flow on Saturday."
He added: "Going into the play-offs you need to be in form and have belief as individuals and as a team - we have that.
"Before the game at Huddersfield I taped off a square in the dressing room and made each player stand nose to nose with me and tell me they believed in their own ability.
"I like eye contact and when you have 16 players believing in their own ability it fills you with confidence."
Northampton will certainly be going all out to win the game this Saturday as their play-off place is not yet secure with Yeovil Town, who travel to Lincoln City, breathing down their necks.
The game is not all-ticket for home fans though Northampton have already sold out their allocation of almost 2,500.
The play-off semi-finals are set for Saturday, 15th May/Sunday 16th May for the first leg and then Tuesday, 18th May/Wednesday 19th May/Thursday 20th May for the second leg.
The team finishing fourth will play the team finishing seventh and fifth will play sixth, the higher placed team having the home leg second. The final is at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday, 31st May.
Semi-final tickets for Stags' home leg go on sale to season ticket holders and SSA members (on production of card) this Sunday (10am-4pm), with a maximum of four per person.
They have until 5pm on Monday to buy before the tickets go on general sale on Tuesday, when the office will be open until 7.30pm. Office hours for the rest of the week are the usual 9am-5pm.
"I don't really mind who we face in the semi-finals but I am not even thinking about that until we get Saturday's game out of the way," said Curle. "Then we will know who we are up against and we can start to plot their downfall.
"We have to make sure we are prepared, physically and mentally, for whatever is ahead. We will show our opposition the respect they warrant. But we know all the sides around us have their strengths and weaknesses.
"At Huddersfield on Saturday, it had everything for me as a manager.
"We had a fantastic following, we played like we believed in our own ability, collectively and individually, we showed character to come from behind, we earned our right to play, the formation chosen worked perfectly with everyone doing their jobs, and we caused Huddersfield problems with exciting and entertaining football.
"At an impressive stadium, in front of an impressive crowd, we turned in an impressive performance and I was delighted.
"We showed a real togetherness which is something I have tried hard to achieve all season. It is not about the 11 or even the 16 selected. We are all in it together."
One surprise on Saturday's team sheet was the return of the perpetually-injured Adam Eaton for only his second start of the season.
"With Tony Vaughan out with a hamstring injury, my plan was to play Lee Williamson at left back after his accomplished performances there recently," said Curle.
"At that point Neil MacKenzie was starting in midfield. But Neil took ill on Friday and when he rang Saturday morning to say he was still feeling ill, I had to ring Adam at 8.15am to tell him he was in the side - I thought it best not to give him any option!
"He came though it well, though he was physically and mentally drained and very sore at the end.
"It wasn't Adam Eaton at full pace, it was Adam playing slightly protectively. But he still showed what a good player he is, which is why he is here at this football club."
Curle apologised to Stags fans after players were told by police not to go over and ackowlege their travelling support at the end on Saturday. Feelings were running high among home supporters and Curle explained they had been told it could inflame in the situation.
Latest | May 2004