HARTLEPOOL United’s players must win their individual battles in order to win the war at Mansfield Town tomorrow.
So says keeper Scott Flinders ahead of the Sky Bet League Two trip to Field Mill.
On paper it looks a one-sided match up between a side in third in the table and the club just one place above the relegation zone.
Flinders is well aware not just the size of the task but the size of the opposition. The Stags, who have not lost since being defeated at Scunthorpe on their first weekend back in the Football League, have a reputation as a team who like the more direct approach.
It all adds up to Pools facing a stern examination tomorrow but Flinders says the team are determined to bounce back after last weekend’s 3-1 home defeat to Oxford United.
“I’ve spoken to a couple of lads I know who have played against them,” said the keeper.
“They are a big physical side who like to get the ball in the box and play off that.
“We have a physical battle in front of us.
“And we’re looking for a really strong performance, not only mentally but physically.
“We want to bounce back after what happened last Saturday.
“It’s a tough game, they are flying high at the top, but we’ve all got to look to win our one v one battles.
“If we do that then we have a chance of coming out on top.
“We’ve done a bit in training this week on how they are going to play and hopefully that will help us.”
Flinders said the whole squad was unhappy at the display against Oxford after the positive results of the previous two games against Accrington Stanley and Bristol Rovers.
“After a positive result at Bristol, we were disappointed with last Saturday,” said the 27-year-old.
“We need to get ourselves going again.”
The Pools squad were upset not only with their first-half display but the final five minutes of the game when all three of three key refereeing decisions went against them.
Jeremy Simpson first ruled that Flinders brought down sub Scott Davies in the box, awarding a penalty which saw Asa Hall send the keeper the wrong way.
Worse was to follow as the Lancashire official red-carded Pools sub Steve Howard for a foul on Davies though it just looked as if the striker was just that little bit late getting there.
And the coup de grace came at the Town End, where Jack Compton was brought down only for Mr Simpson to book the winger for diving.
The referee has since apologised to Pools assistant boss Craig Hignett who says he admitted to getting all three things wrong.
“It doesn’t really help us now,” said the Yorkshireman.
“The scoreline does not look nice on paper and does not reflect how the match actually was.
“I look at every goal I concede and for this, the lad has conned a penalty.
“Tomorrow’s a new start and we’ve got to look to pick things up.”