DERBY DAY: Stags boss believes play-offs are still the club's destiny
Mansfield Town head for Saturday's huge local derby at Chesterfield still believing they can make the end of season play-offs.
With just four games to go, the faltering Stags go into the derby without a win in nine against a struggling Chesterfield side rock bottom of the Football League.
But manager David Flitcroft insisted: “It’s a good run-in in terms of there is no one up there in the top seven.
“There is always going to be unpredictability in this league to the end of the season.
“We have four opportunities to go and cement our place and I believe it’s our destiny, even though we are still chasing.”
He knows how big this derby is and believes Chesterfield’s relegation fight may be leaving them mentally and physically drained.
“Saturday is massive for both clubs, both managers and both teams,” he said.
“They are fighting for their lives in the league and have been heavily entrenched in a relegation fight most of the season, which is draining.
“The magnitude of maybe going out of the League for a club like Chesterfield drains on you. It takes away your energy thinking about possibly what might happen.
“It is very difficult for the supporters to accept where they’ve been all season.
“But we have to concentrate on our objective this season and getting into those play-offs now and securing a place in there. That’s what the focus has been.”
He added: “We need to win our ‘mini league’ and re-frame the season.
“We got a point at Stevenage on Tuesday and in our fightback from 1-0 down I saw a group of lads prepared to fight.
“It’s a tough place to go and there will be a lot of teams who go to Stevenage and don’t secure a any points. I am encouraged by that.
“Saturday is a fantastic fixture. Our fans will again be there in numbers and our fans responded to their passion at Notts County and I am expecting that again.”
Flitcroft wants his players to respond to the adrenalin of the occasion but stay in control.
“Chesterfield have got to go for it and out-score us,” he said.
“But we need three points as well as we are running our of games and we’re desperate for three points.
“It will be who wants the three points the most. Emotion will kick in – but it’s got to be controlled. It has to be considered. You don’t want players sent off or on a yellow and on a knife edge.
“We’ve got a fantastic referee – Darren Drysdale. I’ve had him a couple of times this season and you just know when you’ve got a good referee.
“We will have a controlled aggression about our performance. It’s just important the players don’t let the occasion get to them and understand what needs to happen on the football pitch.” Flitcroft loves the derby day occasion and knows this one is even bigger than the Notts County rivalry.
“Derby games are brilliant. You build them up – and rightly so,” he said.
“When you walk out you have to feel the adrenalin from our supporters. You have to feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and some nerves in there too.
“But when you are out there you have to have a calmness and an ambition and adrenalin to win the game.
“In the match-defining moments there has to be a composure and a control on the execution. These games are won and lost on big moments and we must make sure we come out on top of those.
“I understand it (the derby). I have tasted one. We saw what it meant to our supporters at Notts not to come out the wrong side of a derby. But this rivalry (with Chesterfield) is incredible.”