Mansfield Town staying calm as they look to bounce back from Welsh disappointment
THERE have been a few times earlier in the season where, after an away defeat, there has been a pumped up and frustrated manager Paul Cox.
Back in August, after the 4-1 reverse at Grimsby, he was livid.
Then, at Cambridge, he emerged to conduct his post-match review of another 4-1 reverse and was almost lost for words.
On both occasions, the performances had been poor. They had been disjointed and opened up another can of questions to be answered.
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They also led to big changes in personnel in the weeks that followed, as Cox tried to plot a winning path as the disjointed form continued to hold his side back.
Yet, at the end of Tuesday, he took his time, he sat on the old wooden seats at the back of the stand at Rodney Parade, and offered no excuses.
There was no overriding outburst of anger or frustration, just an honest opinion as he took stock of the situation.
Yes, he could have been sat there after victory and his side finally in the play-off places but instead, defeat had seen Newport open up a six-point gap on the Stags, as they moved up to fourth in the Blue Square Bet Premier after the 2-0 win.
But he wasn't. And he told it as it was. Flat. Below-par. He admitted his side deserved nothing from the game.
However, that is where the criticism ended as he promised no knee-jerk reaction. No wholesale changes.
By Wednesday, it was back to work and the positive and realistic head was plotting a course to promotion.
Tuesday was a setback – nothing more, nothing less. His side had been on a run of seven wins from nine league games, but were thwarted on that occasion.
They had won their previous four away games going into that match, but that record also ended.
But the bigger picture points to plenty to draw on, as the Stags are just three points off Kidderminster in fifth spot with two games in hand.
And, in their last two home games, they have plundered 13 goals, winning 5-0 against Dartford and 8-1 against Barrow.
Unlike earlier in the season when such defeats were seen as the beginning of the end, it was merely moved straight to the dustbin. And maybe, that attitude, refusing to dwell on the past, can be their biggest weapon as they plot a course through the remaining 18 games in their bid to seal a play-off berth.
The fact is, overall, the Stags are in great form, whereas tomorrow's visitors arrive in north Nottinghamshire cutting their budget, suffering injury problems, with one win in five and on the back of a 3-0 home defeat to Alfreton.
Three points at the One Call Stadium tomorrow against Cambridge and the Stags could be in the play-off places.
That is why if Cox does make changes, it will be to freshen things up, with games coming thick and fast every Saturday and Tuesday from now on in.
But while Newport can be put down as an off day, given their recent return of form and looking solid, they have to start producing in games against their promotion rivals.
They have now lost twice to Newport, they lost to leaders Grimsby while honours were even over two games against sixth-placed Kidderminster – one win, one defeat.
But they have beaten third-placed Forest Green and have to play them again, while they also have to meet second-placed Wrexham twice.
Those will be crucial games when it comes to Mansfield's play-off aspirations but, in the meantime, they have to ensure they do not slip-up against the teams in an inferior league position to themselves.
If that happens tomorrow, then maybe Cox will not take such a philosophical view when he conducts his post-match interviews.
In the meantime, one blip should not taint the recent good work and back on home soil, where they have recently been back to their best, they have to draw confidence.
With away games at Hyde, Luton and Lincoln to follow in quick succession, it is crucial they tee themselves up with a solid three points at home and prove why manager Cox was right to remain calm and collected after that midweek defeat.