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Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Friday, 25 January 2008

Stags skipper ready for Cup test

By Owen Phillips

Jake Buxton
Hopefully our lads can say "I had him in my pocket" or "I skinned him". They want to compare themselves against the top class lads

Jake Buxton

Mansfield Town skipper Jake Buxton may struggle to hold back the tears when he leads out his hometown club against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.

Two years ago Buxton was part of the side that pushed Newcastle all the way before losing 1-0 in the third round.

"It was a massive occasion," Buxton, 22, told BBC Radio Nottingham ahead of Saturday's fourth round Field Mill tie.

"I was proud and felt like I was going to cry when I ran on the pitch and I wasn't even captain then."

The Stags made a mockery of their lowly league position that day, and it was only a goal by Geordie legend Alan Shearer that stopped them earning a money-spinning replay.

But despite the home draw this time around, a shock in this year's FA Cup journey against Premier League giants from Teesside looks even less likely.

The Stags are second bottom of the entire Football League with just five league wins all season. They have lost seven of their 12 home league matches and have only scored 17 goals in those matches.

But Buxton, who is born and raised in nearby Sutton-in-Ashfield, believes anything is possible. "We've done all the hard work," he said.

"We put in the graft against the lower sides, got a great result at Brighton and we've been rewarded with a home tie against Middlesbrough who are beatable.

"It's my hometown club, in front of the nation, with my family watching and hopefully I can put on a performance and the lads can put on a performance that we can be proud of."

Buxton says his side are determined to prove that they are much better than their perilous league position suggests.

"You can't let the occasion go to your head," he said. "We need to put a performance on to show everybody we are a decent side and that we are capable of matching the best sides in the country."

The major cause for optimism is the fact that the Stags have played some excellent football in the FA Cup so far. Not least in the last round where they pulled off a major surprise by beating League One side Brighton.

Buxton is hoping for more of the same: "When we are underdogs we seem to bring out the best performances," Buxton explained. "In the Cup against Brighton I thought we passed them off the park.

"We've shown that we do perform against the better sides and Boro are lot better than teams in our league. Hopefully we can play them at their own game and put them under pressure.

Alan Shearer (left) and Jake Buxton
Alan Shearer played and it was great - something you can look back on and tell your kids

Jake Buxton

"Boro have a massive squad with lots of quality, international players.

"It will be a great test to be up against them. Hopefully our lads can say "I had him in my pocket" or "I matched him" or "skinned him". They want to compare themselves against the top class lads.

"A lot of the lads will not go on to Premier League standards which is reality.

"But on Saturday we can try to match them and try to beat them. If you look after your personal battles and all 11 do that, then we'll have a chance.

"We want to go out, give the best performance we can and come away with our heads held high - no matter what the score is.

"We went to Brighton and won when nobody gave us a chance."

The BBC's FA Cup fourth-round coverage starts with Mansfield v Middlesbrough (1230 GMT) on Saturday, 26 January.

see also
Mansfield v Middlesbrough
24 Jan 08 |  FA Cup
Field Mill capacity is increased
10 Jan 08 |  Mansfield
Forget about Cup glory - Dearden
18 Jan 08 |  Mansfield
Brighton 1-2 Mansfield
05 Jan 08 |  FA Cup
Buxton questions Stags commitment
18 Dec 07 |  Mansfield
Shirtliff reflects on Cup defeat
07 Jan 06 |  Mansfield
Newcastle 1-0 Mansfield
07 Jan 06 |  FA Cup
Stags reward Buxton with new deal
02 Feb 05 |  Mansfield
Mansfield to lease out defender
23 Oct 03 |  Mansfield

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