Clean sheets and flying Bovril!

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THREE games unbeaten and three clean sheets, there is a lot to be thankful for as a Stags fan right now.

Yes we would all love to have won all three games 5-0 with scintillating football but this is real life and, in the situation we were in, David Holdsworth’s initial record so far is better than we could have dared hope for.

How many times have we groaned as our defence/keeper made basic and costly errors last season and this?

Holdsworth is right that the rearguard had to be the priority and he has quickly plugged the gaps and made us reasonably watertight. I am sure the rest will come eventually.

Admittedly I would prefer to see one player left up to aim for when clearing a corner instead of having the clearance stuffed back down your throat.

But Holdsworth wants all hands to the pumps on defending right now and whatever he feels will keep us up this season is fine by me.

Tuesday night was a cold, wet miserable night with a game that saw just one really clear cut chance in 90 minutes which Jon D’Laryea was unable to bury.

But there were some great plus points, notably the wingplay of Michael Blackwood.

He began the season in style but then went off the boil before going down with injury.

If Holdsworth can keep him performing like last night then I doubt anyone else in the club can put over such accurate crosses as Blackwood.

At the back Holdsworth had high praise for teenager Scott Garner which all who were there can only agree with.

The lad heads that ball so hard that I can see him scoring from well out with a bullet header sometimes this season. God knows how strong those neck muscles on him are!

Rob Duffy and an out-of-sorts Aaron O’Connor will have better games but they have not played with each other much and we know what both are capable of. So let’s keep the knives in the knife draw folks.

The same goes for those unhappy to see Neil MacKenzie return. No he will not put the foot in like Matt Somner and Curtis Woodhouse. But neither of them have the vision and passing ability of one of the best ‘footballers’ to play for Stags in recent years.

He is another great option to have in your armoury and those who are already speaking out against his return should remember what he can do.

I enjoyed my trip to Lewes far more than I should have done last weekend (and I don’t just mean the wonderful Harveys Ale).

It’s the old ‘glass half full or half empty scenario’ isn’t it? Some stood there at the quaint and spartan Dripping Pan ground – so wonderfully named – and said ‘so this is what it’s all come down to – this is how low we’ve sunk’?

But myself, and I wasn’t the only one, thought that, while we don’t want to be in this division forever, while we are here then let’s enjoy days out at grounds like Lewes.

Forget Manchester United and Chelsea – this is what real football is all about.

A few short seasons back Lewes were playing Sussex County League football but have fought their way through promotion after promotion to reach the Conference.

They are clearly punching well above their weight and will certainly go back down in April.

But everyone there from the friendly staff to the players and people on the terraces are pasionate about the game and how nice was it to see the fans moving round the ground behind the goals at half time just like t’Good Old Days!

The only down side were the spring-loaded desk tops in the tiny press box which when you took the pressure off them flipped straight up immediately.

Thankfully no one was in front of me when my boilding hit and full cup of Bovril was launched Apollo-style into the stratosphere or I may be facing a lawsuit from someone for giving them a Carlos Tevez-style neck!

This weekend should be our final seaside trip of the season and an end to the longer trips as we take our Amber and Blue buckets and spades to Eastbourne Borough.

And there is no doubt on current form they will provide Stags with their biggest test so far under the new boss.

If Stags can emerge from there with a clean sheet then I think we can all but kiss goodbye to worries over a prolonged relegation battle and start to enjoy a smoother ride.

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