As we move into November, another of our statistical poor months, Paul Cox’s men hope to stop the slump after a poor October which accumulated in late defeat against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
A point would have left fans frustrated having played so well in the opening 25 minutes or so, the manner of the loss left a bitter taste for sure but what has been the most disappointing factor is most definitely the lack of goals.
The Stags are 338 minutes of football, excluding time added on, without a goal – this is the longest goal drought under the guise of Paul Cox. Naturally there are a lot of calls for a return of Matt Green, it was always going to be difficult to replace someone of his talent, however its highly unlikely the goal machine will return and so the constant and ever growing conversations of “Matt Green would of scored that” are verging on annoying.
Paul Cox has to accept we need a new striker and should have done more in the close season to bring one in, he knew Green would be going and struggled to plug that gap. Calvin Andrew excited in pre-season but hasn’t delivered what was expected, is that due to him playing out of position or against a higher standard of opposition? Ollie Palmer is another excellent prospect with the sort of goal scoring record Green departed with having scored 37 in 67 games with Havent & Waterlooville, but were we all expecting too much from a young player whose never played full time football league football before, and on the flip side, how is he ever going to prove his presence if he’s not getting a look in.
Jake Speight, Ross Dyer and Louis Briscoe are all players that can put the ball in the back of the net yet are out elsewhere. Fair enough Louis Briscoe’s injured at the minute after taking a knock on his Nuneaton debut, Ross Dyer’s also on the road to recovery and, like Palmer to balance my argument, hasn’t played league football – however he’s getting a run at Hereford at the minute and has been on the score sheet. Speight is in the similar mould to Green and in the past I’ve criticised him for being a greedy player, yet despite his greed he gets goals and out on loan at Alfreton at the minute he’s already grabbed a handful of goals playing regular football for Nicky Law’s men – there are naturally going to be arguments against all three but it seems strange that whilst we’re struggling for goals and slipping down the table as a result, we have players elsewhere delivering the goods for other clubs. It’s like royal mail loaning out a postman to parcel force – I don’t get it.
Cox has admitted he’s going into the loan market, with Stoke City’s James Alabi set to arrive on loan as I type – another youngster with little experience but a good reputation. Will it solve any problems, we’ll wait and see. I genuinely think Hutchinson can get us goals, maybe pairing him with Palmer and not Rhead would ignite the spark – if we play football on the floor, the penny will drop it’s just that, as we proved on Saturday, we’re too impatient and are far too quick to resort to a direct game.
Tomorrow night against Southend will be another tough test, a mid-table clash against a side used to the evening conditions at Roots Hall. Fingers crossed, Friday night can be our night to stop the slump.
LAST TIME WE MET
Mansfield and Southend haven’t locked horns since the 2004-05 campaign where the Stags took four points from the six on offer. The sides last met at Field Mill where Adam Murray put the Stags ahead on 52 minutes, firing home Ritchie Barkers knock down following Alex Baptise’s deep free kick. The visitors pulled level controversially five minutes later as Murray was unfairly penalized for a late challenge, the resulting free kick was taken quickly and the Stags switched off allowing Gower to blast home.
The reverse fixture saw Stags take all the points at Roots Hall in late December. Loanee striker Paul Warne drilled the Stags ahead midway through the second half, Mansfield rode a late storm to take all the points.
In total, the sides have met 49 times (one cup meeting) with the Stags grabbing 20 wins to Southend’s 16 however on Southend turf, the Stags only have seven wins loosing twelve and drawing the other five.
Captain John Dempster serves the second of a three game ban whilst fellow defender Martin Riley remains side lined with injury. Left back James Jennings is back from suspension after serving a one match ban for five yellow cards, he could go back into the line-up to give us a natural left back however George Pilkington did an excellent job in deputising in what his first appearance in a Stags shirt for over a year.
Ryan Tafazolli may be ok for the bench but a lack of minutes could rule that one out, the same goes for Chris Clements whose still on the road to recovery. As of yet there’s also no news on keeper Alan Marriott who failed a late fitness test last weekend with a back spasm.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
A late goal for Plymouth Argyle yesterday sunk Mansfield Town down to 11th as their poor run of form continued. Stags played some great stuff early on but again failed to find the net, meaning they are now 338 minutes, excluding time added on, without a goal.
Cox was forced to ring the changes with Dempster and Jennings both suspended, with fellow defender Martin Riley also injured he was forced to recall George Pilkington from his loan spell at Forest Green Rovers, the experienced defender came straight into the side as one of five changes to make his first start in a Stags shirt since the 4-1 hammering at Cambridge United in October last year.
Goalkeeper Alan Marriott failed a late fitness test which saw Liam Mitchell handed a league debut, along with Pilkington also returning to the side were John McCombe, Ben Hutchinson and Ritchie Sutton.
The Stags began rampant playing some mouth-watering football on the deck, splitting open a fragile and stretched Argyle defence on numerous occasions, winning two early corners yet despite pinpoint deliveries from Hutchinson, the visitors were given a let off as Matt Rhead was judged to have fouled his marker.
On ten minutes home debutant Jack Blake earned a corner with a rasping shot which deflected behind following flowing football between him, Hutchinson, Clucas and Rhead. The corner was again pinpoint and headed away into captain for the day Jamie McGuires path, sadly the terrier-esc midfielder failed to keep his volley down.
Three minutes later Lee Beevers and Matt Rhead split the visitors open with a 1-2 down the right hand side, Beevers provided the drilled cross which saw Clucas denied from point blank range by the keeper.
Stags came close again on 26 minutes when Beevers was the unlikely source heading over Hutchinson’s corner, moments later Liam Mitchell was on hand to keep out a stray shot as the visitors had a rare sight of goal.
Mansfield failed to maintain their tempo and resulting to a more direct game, the half soon fizzled out and the sides headed into the dressing rooms for the break on level terms. After the restart the visitors began to look lively causing Mitchell to deny Reid after good interchanging play.
Matt Rhead was then provider on 50 minutes with a sweeping cross from the right hand side, Ben Hutchinson miscued his effort much to the visitors relief. Seconds later it was roles reversed, Rhead denied by the well placed keeper.
On the hour mark Junior Daniel stood over a well placed free kick however failed to keep hid effort on target, firing into the Quarry Lane End – this became the story of the remainder of the game as Mansfield struggled to find their shooting boots.
It looked likely the game would end goalless and give Stags their third consecutive 0-0 draw, however in the second minute of four added on, a deep free kick from the visitors saw them grab the winner as Trotman beat Liam Mitchell to the looping delivery and head into the gaping goal.
FULL TIME: Mansfield 0-1 Plymouth Argyle
Attendance: 3,379 (460)
Referee: Gary Sutton
Stags: Liam Mitchell, Lee Beevers, Ritchie Sutton, John McCombe, George Pilkington, Sam Clucas (Ollie Palmer 77), Jamie McGuire ©, Jack Blake, Junior Daniel, Ben Hutchinson (Lindon Meikle 82), Matt Rhead (Calvin Andrew 67)
Unused Subs: Paul Black, Keiran Murtagh, Lee Stevenson, Anthony Howell
On paper it says that our Stags are three games unbeaten, however we’re feeling a negative run with three draws with Tuesday evenings goalless draw at Bury the latest in a line of frustration.
Captain John Dempster’s straight red card and left back James Jennings’ fifth yellow of the season has left Cox struggling for options at the back, the least thing he needed was an injury yet sadly, things come in threes and fans favourite Martin Riley is also side-lined for at least a month through injury leaving Cox even more stretched.
Ritchie Sutton, John McCombe, Ryan Tafazolli and Paul Black provide the options for cover with youngster Liam Marsden also an option. Black will presumably make his debut and fill the left back void although Junior Daniel would also be a viable option allowing Clucas to move to the left wing and incorporating Meikle onto the right. At centre back, McCombe & Tafazolli have paired up for the reserves so have a ready-made partnership however Sutton is a first team regular and will be an ideal choice to replace two solid centre-backs.
Another issue with Dempster suspended for the next three games, is the captaincy – it’s clear we need a strong character to take the reins and lead us forward, but who? Alan Marriott has experience as Stags skipper having deputised for Murray two-seasons ago, he’s a respected figure within the dressing room and can read the game well, the problem is communication – I can’t quite see Marriott racing out of his goal to calm the lads after another brawl-starting challenge from midfield! Lee Beevers has worn the armband on occasion in friendlies, another experienced professional that has the respect of his peers however for me I’d be tempted to hand the duty to Sutton – a commanding centre back with a sensible head, the perfect person to drag Stags out of the rut and back onto the straight and narrow.
Whatever Cox chooses to do will shake the pack, we’re going to learn a lot about our character over the next few weeks, fingers crossed the reaction we see is a positive one.
LAST TIME WE MET
It’s been a while since these two last met, just over a decade in fact as the sides last met in February 2003. Sadly, it wasn’t the result Mansfield wanted as on Argyle turf the hosts ran out 3-1 winners.
The last meeting at Field Mill as was came earlier that season, a thrilling encounter finished 4-3 to Mansfield on the opening day of the 2002-03 season, Andy white netted twice to add to goals from Craig Disley and Colin Larkin.
In total, the sides have met 29 times (1 cup tie) with the Stags only managing six wins overall to 16 defeats. Argyle have netted 52 goals to Stags 33 over-all.
Paul Cox is without the suspended John Dempster and James Jennings whilst fellow defender Martin Riley joins midfielder Chris Clements on the sidelines. Paul Black could debut at left back whilst John McCombe & Ryan Tafazolli will battle it out for a recall.
The views in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
Mansfield Town are now without a win in five games but picked up their third straight draw this evening, drawing 0-0 with manager-less Bury. The Stags played the final 28 minutes with ten men after captain John Dempster was dismissed just after the hour for violent conduct following a late challenge, however despite playing with ten men, the Stags should not be satisfied with a point after wasting numerous chances during the first period.
Up against a struggling side it should have been like taking candy from a baby for Stags, however the lack of killer instinct seemed evident in the first half as they failed to beat former Burnley keeper Brian Jensen in the Bury goal.
The Stags first chance came just two minutes in as Matt Rhead provided the flick for Ollie Palmer however the young striker was beaten by the wise old head of Jensen who reacted quicker, racing off his line to collect the loose ball.
Next up it was the turn of debutant Jack Blake, brought into the line up at the expense of Kerian Murtagh. The Nottingham Forest loanee linked up well with Sam Clucas before unleashing a 25 yard drive which was palmed behind by the active Jenson for the games first corner, which was then punched away.
A rare mistake between the shakers gloves-man and his defender saw Stags handed a real chance on 21 minutes, however Matt Rhead couldn’t turn Ollie Palmers pinpoint cross into a goal as he flicked wide from six yards.
Managerless Shakers then had two chances in three minutes as Danny Hylton weaved his way into the box before teeing up Tom Soares, the Bury front man failed to keep his effort down minutes before Alan Marriott sprung into action, denying former Burton Albion striker Shaun Harrad who squeezed an effort through a crowd of bodies.
Ollie Palmer was then felled as he looked to latch onto Sam Clucas’ central pass on 33 minutes, the resulting free kick from James Jennings failed to inspire as it bounced back off the wall.
The first half’s chances concluded on 41 minutes for Stags as James Jennings’ deep free kick was crossed back in to the box by Beevers. Junior Daniel controlled expertly but was denied by an equally fine save by Jensen, his opposite number Marriott was also called into action second later at the other end as Harrad connected with a well hit volley from Sean Beeley’s right sided cross – Mansfield withstood two consecutive corners to go into the break level.
The second half began a drab affair as the two sides battled it out in the centre of the park, only Jack Blake dared change things as he hit an early dipping effort however it did nothing bar awake the ball boys.
On 62 minutes Jensen made a rare fumble to gift the Stags an unexpected corner, Jennings delivery failed to test the hosts and as they countered, John Dempster appeared to lunge into a rash challenge which led to a 22 man brawl, before the Stags captain was shown a straight red card for violent conduct.
Ritchie Sutton soon replaced Ollie Palmer to keep the back four, with his feet barley on the turf, keeper Alan Marriott pulled off a fine save to deny Chris Sedgwick as the hosts looked keen to take advantage of the extra man.
Marriott again was called into action as the ten men were pulled apart down the left hand side, this time Danny Mayor pulled the trigger as Mansfield, without leader Dempster and with Riley struggling with injury, began to crumble.
On 74 minutes, Martin Riley limped off injured being replaced by Godfrey Poku, making his debut a year and roughly three months after signing from Luton. The former Hatter slotted in as an emergency centre half and was settled in as Marriott again saved from Mayor.
At the other end a forceful run from Rhead saw Jennings given the chance to take a dangerous set play, the only danger however was Bury’s counter attack following the weak delivery – Godfrey Poku soon put a stop to that with a solid clearance.
Alan Marriott again proved the hero with a one handed save to deny a 25 yard curler from Tom Soares, again after a teasing run from substitute Mayor – the Stags soaked up the building pressure from the resulting corner, watching on as Harrad’s cross was nodded over by Hylton with the seven minutes to go.
A final throw of the dice was made a minute later as Calvin Andrew replaced Matt Rhead, however the action was all at the other end as Bury romped forward searching for a late winner, James Jennings collected his fourth booking of the season following a mistimed challenge in the centre circle.
Bury pilled on the pressure in search of a winner, somehow the Stags clung onto the point through seven anguishing minutes of additional time. To end a disappointing night, boss Paul Cox was sent to the stands where a fan came across to have words, stewards intervened to stop any potential trouble.
FULL TIME: Bury 0-0 Mansfield Town
Referee: Andy Haines
Attendance: 2,571 (351)
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, John Dempster ©, Martin Riley (Godfrey Poku 74), James Jennings, Sam Clucas, Jamie McGuire, Jack Blake, Junior Daniel, Ollie Palmer (Ritchie Sutton 64), Matt Rhead (Calvin Andrew 84)
Unused Subs: Kieran Murtagh, Lee Stevenson, Lindon Meikle, Ben Hutchinson.
Following Saturday’s frustrating goalless draw with Torquay United, playing against ten men for the final 21 minutes, it’s time to move on to tonights match with managerless Bury, another team at the wrong end of the table but another team that make me concerned we might not get the result we want.
A manager less team always poses a threat as players up their game either to help the caretaker get the job to try and impress a potential new boss who could be watching from the stands. I fear after recent results this month that we’ll fall right into that trap, which is why we need characters out there tonight, characters who will grab hold of the strings and shake it up.
We’ve had an excellent start and credit must go to the players for putting the work in, however this month’s stats don’t lie that we are slipping away, is it because of a lack of fire power or does it coincide with another incident, I think the former is a growing concern.
We have only won by more than one goal on two occasions this season and, despite the potential of Clucas, Rhead, Palmer and Andrew, we are crying out for a proven goal scorer if only to stop the annoying phrase “Matt Green would have scored that” – he’s gone, he’s not coming back – get over it!
We do have the capabilities to turn potential into proven, provided we play the right system. Ben Hutchinson has perhaps enjoyed his best season so far in terms of starts, having been involved in all but seven of our games, yet gets criticised 80% of the time because he’s playing out of position – stick him central just off the shoulder of a target man ala Rhead or Palmer and your onto a winner.
Our problems are in the system, just creases that can be ironed out by picking to a more productive system and sticking to it – fingers crossed we find that tonight and shake it up to the tune of three points.
LAST TIME WE MET
The Stags and the shakers have met on 67 occasions previously having last locked horns in the 07-08 season, meeting in quick succession in February & March respectively. At Field Mill in February it was a 1-1 whilst in the reverse fixture, the shakers ran out 2-0 winners.
Mansfield’s last victory at Bury came in February 2005 when they ran out 2-0 winners, one of only five wins over the shakers on their turf.
In total, Bury have 28 wins to our 18 and lead the goals tally 104-77.
Paul Cox has no fresh injury worries ahead of this one, with Chris Clements still on the sidelines.
Mansfield Town’s frustrating October continued this afternoon as Cox’s men failed to see off Torquay United who played the last twenty-one minutes with ten men after Krystian Pearce for sent off for a second bookable offence.
Stags made three changes for the match as Jamie McGuire returned to suspension whilst James Jennings and Matt Rhead were restored to the line up, new loan signing Jack Blake from Nottingham Forest had to settle for a place on the bench.
Both sides battled it out during the first period and saw numerous free kicks test each other, Stags came closest through John Dempster and Martin Riley who both glanced headers wide whilst the hosts were denied as Alan Marriott palmed away a teasing effort from Ade Azeez.
In the second half Azeez was again thrawted by Marriott from close range before Matt Rhead connected with a pinpoint Jamie McGuire cross at the other end, the Stags front man denied by the palms of the home keeper.
Substitute Ben Hutchinson also drew a save from the Gulls keeper from distance before the hosts were reduced to ten men with 21 minutes remaining as Kyrstian Pearce was shown his second yellow card of the game. The Stags went for it with a man advantage but failed to break the deadlock as the hosts remained resilient, leading the Stags to slip outside of the play-offs after picking up a solitary point.
FULL TIME: Torquay United 0-0 Mansfield Town
Attendance: 2,473 (347)
Referee: Mick Russell
Stags: Alan Marriott, Lee Beevers, Ritchie Sutton (Ollie Palmer 74), John Dempster (C), Martin Riley, James Jennings, Keiran Murtagh, Jamie McGuire, Sam Clucas, Lee Stevenson (Ben Hutchinson 56), Matt Rhead (Calvin Andrew 64)
Unused Subs: Lindon Meikle, Anthony Howell, Jack Blake, Junior Daniel
Last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers failed to make the sunshine through this miserable month of weather, as bursts of rain continue to be swept through the chilling wind and brown autumn leaves get stuck to your shoes, fellow supporters will be hoping for a little more joy as the Stags head for the cost tomorrow as they take on Torquay United.
There’s no question Mansfield need to find the form of last month which saw them climb to third and beat arch rivals and league leaders Chesterfield along the way. As with every season we’re starting to enter our rough patch and as injuries and suspensions set in, it’s no secret Paul Cox is on the search for fresh input, especially in midfield, but how come he’s looking elsewhere?
First Cox cast his eye over former Coventry midfielder Steve Jennings who was sent off in the reserve teams 2-1 defeat at Hull City midweek. Then the stags boss appeared to bring Godfrey Poku out of the cold and ending his interest in Jennings stating that Poku’s “application and work rate had impressed him” (which we’d actually like to see) before declaring his interest in Nottingham Forest youngster Jake Blake.
Fair play, Forest’s academy is a few more years down the line than what ours currently is, but after all the fuss Cox made about the youngsters at Stags in the summer (Jack Thomas et al), why go looking to take someone whose part of another academy?
Naturally the debate can carry on and go round and round in a never concluding circle, but there’s no point in carrying it on as it wont find Stags an answer – that’s something they have to find themselves on the pitch tomorrow. Fingers crossed Jamie McGuire will be fit to play, he was suspended of course last week after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the chesterfield cup game, however he was taken off injured in the same match.
McGuire has been impressive since his arrival and a real fighter in the midfield, that’s defiantly an attribute we need to re-find our feet and go on another decent run of form.
Torquay are another side struggling for form sitting just outside the drop-zone however, Stags haven’t faired too well against struggling sides in recent weeks so need to ensure they stay focussed as they aim to bring home three points before heading to managerless bury in midweek.
LAST TIME WE MET
The Stags and Torquay last met in the conference during our debut season outside the football league in 2008-09. Billy McEwan was at the helm as Stags headed for Torquay and failed to bring home nothing bar rock and humbugs as the gulls flew away with all three points in a 2-0 victory. The last meeting came at the One Call Stadium, where the sides took a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
The last football league encounter came in January 2007 at Field Mill as was, the Stags smashed the gulls 5-0.
In total, the sides have met 67 times of which the Stags have grabbed 31 victories and slipped to 18 defeats. The Stags lead the goals tally 98-74 but have only won 10 times at Torquay, the last victory on Gulls territory coming in 2006.
Paul Cox has Jamie McGuire back from suspension however the question remains over if the midfielder will be fit after being taken off injured in the cup show down with Chesterfield, fellow midfielder Chris Clements remains sidelined.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
Mansfield Town reserves were again condemned to defeat last night after letting a 1-0 lead slip to go down 2-1 at North Ferriby United against Hull City reserves.
Matt Rhead had put Richard Cooper’s men ahead on 21 minutes with a bullet header following Ben Hutchinson’s deep set play however it was the hosts who ultimately hit back to take the points, Nick Proschwitz’s 25 yard effort levelled the match shortly after half time before James Armstrong capitalised on a cross on 69 minutes to put the hosts in the driving seat after Stags had squandered numerous chances.
The Stags management were casting their eye over former Mortherwell and Coventry midfielder Steve Jennings throughout the match, although his game time was cut short late on when he was shown a red card.
Richard Coopers men had won their opening four matches to top the table however after two straight defeats, their grasp on the top has now slipped away – Cooper’s men are next in action in early November when they welcome Doncaster Rovers to the One Call Stadium.
LINE UP: Liam Mitchell, Liam Marsden, John McCombe, Ryan Tafazolli (Ben Birch), Paul Black (Connor Green), Ben Hutchinson, Godfrey Poku, Steve Jennings, Lindon Meikle, Matt Rhead (Kevin Hemagou), Ollie Palmer
UNUSED SUBS: Harry Waldram, Jack Thomas.
Mansfield Towns poor October continued this afternoon at the One Call Stadium as a below par display saw Cox’s men draw 1-1 with Bristol Rovers. Lee Stevenson had headed the Stags into a 1-0 lead midway through the first half however it was slender against the Pirates who fought throughout.
The equalising goal was surrounding in controversy as the offside flag stayed down against substitute Alefe Santos who was subsequently denied by the excellent Alan Marriott, from the resulting corner Santos’ tight angle effort cannoned off Murtagh and then Marriott to find the net and level the match.
In truth, Rovers deserved at least a point as they out passed and over stretched Mansfield throughout the match, had it not been for the excellent positioning and focus of gloves-man Marriott the visitors may well have had Stags comfortably beaten – defenders Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton and captain John Dempster also put in key blocks to keep the pirates at bay.
With Jamie McGuire suspended Anthony Howell came into the starting line-up to partner Keiran Murtagh in midfield, Stags were otherwise unchanged from the side who were beaten 1-0 by Chesterfield in midweek.
It was the visitors who began the brightest and tested Alan Marriott on numerous occasions, the best chance falling to Oliver Norburn on 10 minutes as he shot wide from the edge of the box – at the other end Sam Clucas, Lee Stevenson and Calvin Andrew all saw efforts go astray.
After riding the rough waves of numerous Rovers counter attacks, the Stags played one of their own on 22 minutes as Calvin Andrew latched onto a directional pass down the right channel, the front man played an excellent cross into the box which sat perfectly for Lee Stevenson who rose above the keeper to head Mansfield into the lead.
Captain John Dempster looped a header wide from Sam Clucas’ corner minutes later but as the half went on, it was the visitors that tested Marriott thrice but failed to beat the determined gloves-man.
After the break, the visitors maintained the pressure again calling Marriott into action, eventually they found a way back into the match with six minutes to go, Alefe Santos looked offside but the play went on to see the visiting substitute subsequently denied by the excellent Alan Marriott, from the resulting corner Santos’ tight angle effort cannoned off Murtagh and then Marriott handing the visitors an equalizer.
FULL TIME: Mansfield Town 1-1 Bristol Rovers
Attendance: 3,275 (432)
Referee: Scott Duncan
Stags: Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster ©, Martin Riley, Lee Beevers, Sam Clucas, Keiran Murtagh, Anthony Howell, Junior Daniel (Ollie Palmer 85), Lee Stevenson (Lindon Meikle 71) Calvin Andrew (Matt Rhead 59)
Unused Subs: Liam Mitchell, Godrey Poku, Ben Hutchinson, James Jennings
It’s strange how much can change in seven days, this time last week we sat at our desk at home writing about how we must stop the usual October rot with it being statistically one of our poor months for form under Paul Cox along with November. Here we are a week later, looking out to the Devonshire sea having been on holiday, wondering if the Stags too have been on their jolleys from their recent form, having lost twice since last writing.
Many will argue that the 1-0 loss in the JPT midweek was worse than last Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to Hartlepool United due to the fact it was Chesterfield. We wrote on Monday about how it would be nice to remain in the competition so to be knocked out is disappointing, it leaves an extra bitter taste with it being to Chesterfield however hopefully, we can spin the negative into a positive and use is as the clear kick up the backside we need to focus on our league form for the foreseeable future as we aim to add our name to the list of conference champions who have gone onto gain back to back promotions.
Bristol Rovers provide the opposition tomorrow and sit in a similar league position that Hartlepool did last week, let’s not make the mistake again and think the result will be a foregone conclusion – nothing is set in stone at this time of the campaign and one result, if you let it, can change everything.
Cox opted for 4-4-1-1 midweek with Stevenson behind Andrew, we wont comment too much as being away meant we had to rely on the eyes of others, however we’ve seen Stevenson play in this formation before and know that, if he gets the right partner, he will thrive. A flat four gives us a solid base at the back and something to build on going forward – fingers crossed tomorrow that we dig our heels in and go onto gain three points!
LAST TIME WE MET
The two sides tomorrow lock horns for the first time since 2006-07 when Rovers did the double over Stags winning 1-0 at Field Mill in 2007 thanks to Steve Elliott and again by the same score-line in the reverse fixture earlier in the season as former Stag Craig Disley netted the only goal of the match.
The Stags last win over Bristol Rovers came in the 2003-04 campaign when on a September’s night in Bristol, Craig Disley struck twice to add to an opening Junior Mendes goal before half-time, the hosts grabbed a consolation in the final minute from the penalty spot.
In total there have been 47 meetings, one in the cup, Stags have 15 wins but have suffered 20 defeats and also trial the goals 61-74 however on Mansfield turf, the Stags have 13 wins to Rovers’ five and lead the goals 38-17.
Paul Cox will be without midfielder Jamie McGuire who picked up his 5th yellow card of the season in midweek however will be boosted by the news that defender Ritchie Sutton appears to be fine after his worrying injury during the build up to Chesterfield’s goal.
Midfielder Chris Clements is also on the sidelines which leaves Anthony Howell and Godfrey Poku as the only other central midfielders available to partner Keiran Murtagh tomorrow although given the situation with the latter (Poku) it’s likely Howell to be given the nod after being dropped midweek.
Written by Craig Priest & Emily Sykes
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writers and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations.
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