Mark Cooper says Barrow AFC must be at their best to try and halt Mansfield Town’s march up League Two.

One of the country’s form sides visit Holker Street this weekend.

Nigel Clough’s Stags have stormed up the table after a slow start to 2021/22 – and sit seventh after six straight league wins.

They will set the Bluebirds a stern test – and the AFC manager wants players and fans to rise to the challenge.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Cooper said.

“No disrespect, but we went to Colchester last week, with a couple of thousand people there, no atmosphere really, a lot of apathy and it’s difficult sometimes to motivate or for the players to motivate themselves.

“We know at home there’ll be a big crowd behind us and up for it.

“We will be up for it because we know we’ve got to be, because it’s going to be a really tough game.

“They’re the form team, and it’s a great game for us to pit our wits against them.

“We’ll have to be at our best and compete really well, with a really good crowd behind us, to get anything.”

Barrow are hoping to put further distance between themselves and the wrong end of League Two.

They start the weekend in 21st place, seven points above the relegation zone and with games in hand on some sides around them.

The game is part of a double-header at the Dunes Hotel Stadium, with play-off chasing Salford City visiting on Tuesday.

Cooper said Mansfield’s charge up League Two has come as no surprise to him.

“I spoke after we’d beaten Mansfield [a 1-0 away win in October] that once they got going, and got their players back from injury, they would be a threat to the top end of the table, with a quality manager.

“That was never in doubt for me and that’s what’s happened.”

The Stags were denied the chance to further their promotion push when their clash at leaders Forest Green fell victim to fog on Tuesday.

Cooper added: “I was desperately hoping they were going to play, tire them out and maybe pick a couple of niggles up, but that wasn’t to be…”

On the strengths of Clough’s side, meanwhile, the Barrow boss said: “It’s as a collective.

“The manager insists on the workrate and collective of the group. Very rarely would I say they single out an individual.

“They’ve got a good unit, play a diamond in midfield, they press the ball, have got some experienced players in there.”