These next four days are going to be huge for Mansfield Town. Paul Cox’s men come up against old adversaries in Newport County and York City within a short space of time with both games taking place at the One Call Stadium – Losing is not an option.
It’s so tight at the bottom of league two there is no room for manoeuvre, if we are to stand any chance of avoiding a squeaky-bum esc end to the season, we need to start picking up some points – old adversaries Newport and York, on home soil, is the perfect place to start.
Newport have proved a bogey side for Cox’s Stags whilst under the management of Justin Edinburgh. The 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade earlier this season aside, County have won their last three meetings as Cox took on Edinburgh.
Twice Mansfield were on epic runs and looked unstoppable, yet somehow the Newport boss and former Spurs player had Stags worked out and undone with relative ease. Both of those matches were on Newport soil however, the last time the teams locked horns on Mansfield soil, supporters of both were treated to an entertaining display in which the visitors piped the hosts to the post running out 4-3 winners.
Edinburgh’s side are always well drilled and are a good at exposing space and exploiting weakness, let’s face it on recent displays (especially our last home match against Bury) we’re not short of those! Wycombe and Accrington are hot on our heels and with a few well-placed results, 21st placed Northampton could be too which is why it’s key to defend well and be more ruthless in attack – in these situations you have to keep running and become uncatchable.
What’s needed perhaps is a trigger, something to say that we are capable of producing the goods – I was looking back through the Mansfield Matters archive earlier and found this gem under the reign of Paul Cox – Mansfield 5-0 Newport.
It was September 2011 when the Stags clicked and hit Newport for five, County then under the management of Anthony Hudson were struggling whilst Stags were in fine early season form following Paul Cox’s recent arrival. A spanner for Mansfield was in the works with the presence of the TV Camera’s as the Stags hadn’t won in-front of them since relegation into the conference. That mattered little as the Stags produced the goods, opening the scoring on ten minutes as Matt Green latched onto Adam Murray’s inch perfect pass to slot beneath the on rushing Glyn Thompson.
Green turned provider for the Stags second on 33 minutes as a reverse pass put Louis Briscoe through to finish with power before Ross Dyer stabbed home on 56 minutes for 3-0 following interchanging play between the opening two goal scorers. Briscoe added his second and Stags’ fourth with a sublime volley before defender Luke O’Neill completed the drubbing moments later.
Want to remember the match more? Click here for AUDIO HIGHLIGHTS and here for the MATCH REPORT – Fingers crossed for a repeat performance tomorrow against the side promoted alongside us in the summer via the play-offs.
York City will then provide the opposition in mid-week, there first visit to the One Call Season since May 7th 2012, the day Stags’ hearts broke. I’m not one for revenge, but look back at the squad that day and look at it now – I’m sure there are a few players itching to put things right ala Alan Marriott, Ritchie Sutton, Martin Riley, Adam Murray etc!
Mansfield had been in fine form, romping to a third placed finish in the league to set up a play-off semi-final with York, the first leg at Bootham Crescent ending all square as Ross Dyer’s bullet header was cancelled out by Exodus Geohaghon’s own goal.
The dismissal of Stags’ 30 goal hit man Matt Green is still controversial to this day but it was clear that in his absence, Cox’s Stags were mediocre at best – they had no attack and only one form of attack – Big Ex’s long throws which City keeper and torment Michael Ingham plucked out of the evening air every single time. The game went to extra time and looked like it was going to end in a shootout, that was until City’s Matty Blair popped up in the 110th minute to bundle home Jason Walker’s unchallenged cross. City shot to another level and once Ritchie Sutton was dismissed minutes later, were coasting into the Wembley final which they subsequently won, just days after beating Justin Edinburgh’s Newport in the FA Trophy final.
The image of Murray in tears on the pitch whilst York celebrate in the background still lives on and despite us going one better the following season to be crowed champions, the hurt of that match is still deep within.
Earlier in the season, the side’s first meeting since that play-off semi-final came at Bootham Crescent. Mansfield banished some demons as Sam Clucas’ 21st minute spot kick and Ollie Palmer’s 76th minute goal overturned an excellent start for the hosts who opened the scoring through Ryan Brobbel inside 50 seconds.
In a way York are the a good example to follow, last term, there first back in the Football League, they struggled. Yet determination and team ethic got them stability and a 17th placed finish four points from safety. They’ve followed that with a string of decent results this term and sit just seven points from the play-offs – stability first and then build!
The goalless draw against Dagenham last weekend proved we are capable of keeping sides at bay, all be it thanks to the fine form of Marriott. But still, stand firm and find that ruthless streak and we can all breathe again – I know where capable of it, and deep down, so do you! COYS
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