Lester on the '˜sweet spot' Spireites have to hit during heat and hatred of derby
Jack Lester wants his players to hit a '˜sweet spot' tomorrow amid the heat and hatred of the Spireites-Stags derby.
The Proact Stadium will be turned into a cauldron of noise come 1pm when Chesterfield and Mansfield kick off in a hugely important League Two game.
With relegation lurking ominously on the horizon for the hosts and promotion still possible for the visitors, the three points will mean so much to both sides.
And given the strength of feeling both sets of fans have about their rivals from just down the road, it’s possible that the tension in the stands may transfer to the pitch.
It’s a fixture Lester played and won three times during his playing career.
“It’s hatred, I think that’s a fair word,” he said, summing up the rivalry.
“It’s lovely to play in and win, I’ll tell you that.
“You make so many people happy.
“As a footballer playing in stadiums is key, the reason people go to your Celtics is to play in front of 50, 60,000 because it is so exciting.
“The stadium will be bouncing tomorrow.
“You’ve got to go and attack it.”
But with the heightened tension comes a responsibility to remain composed.
Lester doesn’t seem to mind if his players have an edge, but he wants them all to stay on the pitch.
“It’s definitely not just another game because derby games aren’t like that because it means more to other people, the fans. Understandably so, with the history of it.
“It’s about getting the players in the right frame of mind. I don’t like saying get fired up for this game and then going to Exeter and it doesn’t matter, it’s not like that.
“It’s just the tensions are higher in the stadium, it does give a lack of calmness sometimes in players, an edge.
“It’s about hitting that sweet spot for performance, obviously not being over excited and liable to get a red card, certainly focused enough to give a top performance.
“The players are working extremely hard, they’re focused on what’s required and I expect us to play well tomorrow.”
Chesterfield have played their last three matches away from home and will go on the road twice after tomorrow’s Proact derby.
It’s Lester’s hope that come 3pm, when everyone else in the division kicks off, he’ll be sat in his office with a two-point gap between his side and safety.
Then other relegation battlers will have a little more pressure on their shoulders.
“It’s good to get back at home.
“Having Mansfield here at our stadium, we’ve got fantastic fans who will really back the team tomorrow, the players will respond to that.
“Tomorrow would be a fantastic result, playing before everyone else kicks off, it would be a fantastic shot in the arm if we could put three points down before others play.
“It would put a few nerves in other games up and down the country, that’s definitely the objective.
“We’re in better form than them, we’re at home and it will be a difficult game, they’ve got some good players.
“No doubt they’ll think they’re favourites but we’ll give them a real good go tomorrow.”
And he’s not too concerned with the formation recently appointed Stags manager David Flitcroft opts to field.
Lester, who took four points from the six on offer against Flitcroft’s Swindon, wants his team’s performance to concern the visiting boss, however.
“We played Swindon with a 4-4-2 and a 3-5-2 and Mansfield have been those two shapes in the last two games.
“Getting their shape exactly spot on, we’re not too sure what they’ll do but we’ve seen how the play, what their strengths are.
“It’ll be about how Mansfield adjust to us, we want to put on a real high energy, attacking performance and let them worry about us.”