Mansfield Town: Paul Cox wants even more from Stags

Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox says his challenge is to get even more from his players as they look to continue an incredible nine-game winning sequence and secure automatic promotion.

The Stags went top of the Blue Square Bet Premier table with a 2-1 victory over Grimsby on Saturday.

"I am going to try to drag a little bit out of the lads now," Cox said.

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This is my favourite part of the season - the business end. I have always enjoyed it

Paul Cox

They are two points clear of Wrexham in second place and three ahead of third-placed Kidderminster Harriers.

They could have extended that and taken a giant stride towards the Football League by beating title rivals Wrexham on Tuesday, but the game was postponed.

Early-season pacesetters Newport are in fourth spot, eight points behind but have three games in hand on the Stags.

But although the league remains tight, the transformation in Mansfield's fortunes has been remarkable.

In January, following a mixed first half of the season, the Stags were ninth and although they had played fewer games than most of the teams above them, Cox's side seemed to be looking to secure a play-off place at best.

But their involvement in the FA Cup and the dream third-round tie against Liverpool seemed to inspire them and Cox is in no way shocked by their form.

Since their memorable FA Cup exploits, Mansfield have won 13 of the last 15 games, with their only two defeats coming against fellow promotion hopefuls Kidderminster Harriers and Newport County.

Cox told BBC Radio Nottingham: "The players have been immense. Players have come in when they haven't been playing for a while and really showed a hunger and desire to be successful.

The Stags in numbers

Mansfield have played 18 games in 2013, winning 15 and losing three.

The three defeats came against Liverpool in the FA Cup, and Blue Square Bet Premier title rivals Kidderminster and Newport.

The Stags have scored 40 goals in their 17 league games since the turn of the year and have conceded only 13.

Their last draw in the league came on 18, November - 2-2 against Luton Town.

When Mansfield drew 1-1 with Nuneaton on 6 November, they were in 14th place in the table, 10 points behind Wrexham - who were second - and 14 behind then leaders Newport.

"I always knew after the Liverpool game it was about how quickly we could get the lads' feet back on the ground. We had a bit of a hangover, but it was only for 45 minutes against Kidderminster.

"Training was intensified and little things were jumped on.

"We had to get them focused on the main goal this season which was trying to get out of this division. The lads have been remarkable; they are a great bunch to work with and have a great chance of achieving something this season."

And Cox insists he is revelling in the pressure of the title run-in and enjoying their recent form.

"I don't want to come across as being arrogant, but I am not surprised," he said. "This is my favourite part of the season - the business end. I have always enjoyed it.

"We always seem to step up to the mark at this time of the season and the players have done it again.

"I believe in my players and I believe in the way we are. Belief is a massive word in this business when the walls can come tumbling down around you. Hopefully the lads can see it through."