Craig Priest writes...
You know the good thing about having a tight fixture schedule is the fact you have little time for reflect, perfect then for Stags following defeat in Wrexham last night as the face the long trek to Barrow tomorrow.
As mentioned in the Wrexham preview on Wednesday, Stags have stayed over somewhere between the two, allowing extra rest and recuperation ahead of a tough fixture. How is it tough, I hear you scream at your computer screens! Simply because Stags have completely embarrassed Barrow in the last two meetings at the One Call Stadium. We’re not talking baby photos posted on facebook to show you up to your partner embarrassing, we’re talking trousers down wet your pants in front of some girls embarrassing!
Barrow finally have the chance to take us on in their back yard and will be eager to mix it up and extract their revenge, no doubt they’ll be mindful of the fact we lost at Wrexham and will look to impose on what could be a dent in confidence. I wouldn’t be surprised either if Dave Bayliss the Bluebirds boss put the DVD on in the dressing room before hand and said ‘Go and right the wrongs’.
At the moment I’m sitting in the car (passenger seat before you report me!) writing this, as glorious bits of countryside flash by I can’t help but ponder on what I just wrote about a dent in confidence – you’re not telling me that a team that has won 12 straight games won’t be left shell-shocked when they lose, I personally think tomorrow’s battle will be a mental one for Stags.
They’ll come up against a relegation haunted side who they scored eight against last time around, if ever there was a plate for the arrogant to eat from, that’s it. In reality Barrow aren’t a bad side, unbeaten in five games with three draw and two wins, they’ll be tough to break down and frustrating to play against for long periods.
Paul Cox may be forced into changes depending on rulings, Lee Beevers and John Dempster both collected their 5th post Christmas yellow last night. For me Ritchie Sutton is the obvious choice at right back but centre back will the tough choice. No doubt big Ex will be the “bookies favourite” to slot in but for me, I’d opt for either George Pilkington or Ryan Tafazolli alongside Jones.
Pilkington has the experience and the quality to fit in to the way we play, I honestly think that he may have been given his chance sooner had it not been for the immense pairing of Dempster and Jones. Tafazolli will be a strange choice for some but he’s impressed for the reserves of late and will be eager to prove why Paul Cox brought him to the club – I think he’d learn a lot from Jones and is a similar type of player to Dempster.
Whatever option Cox opts for, the Stags need to kick on and get back to winning ways – it’s far from over with those two games in hand and again, will take another few twists and turns, Kidderminster face tough opponents in Lincoln who will look to secure their safety whilst Wrexham make the long journey to Woking.
LAST TIME WE MET
Earlier this term rampant Stags left the blue birds feeling, well blue, as they ran out 8-1 winners at the One Call Stadium. Matt Green grabbed a treble whilst Stevenson netted twice – Junior Daniel, Adam Murray and Anthony Howell were also on the score-sheet as Paul Cox took home a brand new car, again attracting the attention of the national media.
The previous season it was 7-0 at the One Call and 3-2 at Barrow’s Holker Street as the Stags took maximum points from the Bluebirds.
In total the sides have met 55 times down the years, Stags notching up 23 wins to 21 defeats, scoring 109 to Barrow’s 96. Things are slightly different at Holker street as Stags have only won on seven occasions, twice in the FA Cup in the 1920’3 & 30’s. Other victory have come in 1949, 1951, 1968, 1969 and more recently in 2011.
Paul Cox could be without star defender Lee Beevers and John Dempster depending on rulings; the two could sit out along with the usual absentees, Ross Dyer, Jake Speight and of late, James Jennings.
If you’re not making the long journey to Barrow then join me for full match commentary via our MM-LIVE page from 2pm. Commentary will also be on Takeover Radio 106.9FM from the same time.
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