Craig Priest and Emily Sykes write...
Throughout this blog we get the feeling there could be points where you feel like we are writing in a negative tone, we are not it’s just damn difficult to get focused again after such a free scoring victory.
The 8-1 demolition of Barrow will again raise the bar of expectation ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to Newport, it will only be a minority but some will expect Mansfield to be free scoring once more – in our opinion Newport will pose a much tougher test than Barrow and a point will be as well received as all three.
This may seem like a negative statement after four straight wins, especially when you consider Stags lead the form table over the last eight games, however the point we’re trying to stress is that we shouldn’t go into the game expecting another high quantity of goals. What the Barrow game does do is give the players another boost in confidence and prove to other teams around us that Stags should be considered serious contenders once again. If you look at all eight goals individually we think Mansfield proved they are dangerous in more than one area, for example we get good crosses in the box and force teams into mistakes, we can pass long at pace and have the ability to keep working when the initial move breaks down.
Two months ago you wouldn’t have got that from Mansfield Town, this shows a big improvement in the players attitude and commitment to the cause. From here to the end of the season Stags will pretty much be playing two games a week, for us the upturn in attitude and commitment has arrived at the right time. Things are certainly going well with Mansfield, as mentioned they lead the form guide over the last eight games – accompanying this is the stat that Stags are the second best attacking side in the division, tomorrow’s opponents Newport are the best.
Justin Edinburgh’s men may well have let their grip slip on top spot with recent results however they are still a side to be respected and approached in the right way. For us tomorrow’s game will see a little bit more focus on Stags defence as Jones and Company will have to keep the likes of Aaron O’Connor quiet, the former Stag has 17 goals so far this term. Naturally we have faith in Stags to grab a fifth consecutive league away victory and in turn their fifth win on the spin, victory would not only move Stags into the play-offs but also send another message to their competitors and rivals.
LAST TIME WE MET
The two sides last locked horns on the season’s opening day, it was a really close encounter which Stags supporters will remember for numerous reasons. Firstly Stags were rocked by the early injury to hit man Ross Dyer, who still remains sidelined – it was also the game which handed debuts to numerous new signings including Jamie Tolley who started again at Gateshead before disappearing into the Bermuda triangle!
Add to that a feast of goals as Stags were on the wrong end of a 4-3 score line, Newport opened the scoring early on as Ismail Yakubu headed home before Tony James volleyed home a second. After the break substitute Jake Speight grabbed one back before Matt Green fired the Stags level. The visitors then struck twice more through former Stag’s Aaron O’Connor and Jefferson Louis, Speight then grabbed his second of the afternoon to make it 4-3 and set up a tense finish however time quickly ran out and Newport took home the points.
The two sides have only ever met during the Stags stay in the conference, in truth Newport have become a bit of a bogey side – the thumping 5-0 win for Stags at The One Call Stadium in September 2011 their only league victory over Newport. The two sides did met in a pre-season friendly when the Holdsworth twins were at the helm of either side, they also met in the FA Trophy in January 2011, Mansfield winning both the aforementioned games. There have been three victories for Newport in the league, the above mentioned 4-3 at The One Call Stadium, the other two wins were at The Newport Stadium this time last year and in September 2010 by a goal to nil.
Technically tomorrow is a new ground for Stags to tick off as Newport now play at Rodney Parade rather than the Newport Stadium following a summer move.
Paul Cox appears to have no fresh problems ahead of tomorrow’s game and will presumably stick with the same side, this means defender Exodus Geohaghon will continue to play the waiting game.
The Stags will be boosted by the news that Aaron O’Connor is sidelined with a thigh injury, County boss Edinburgh also looks set to be without midfielder Max Porter and goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley who was stretched off during Newport’s last game, a 2-2 draw at home to Tamworth – incidentally County were winning 2-0 before the keepers injury to the calf.
If you can’t make the trip to Wales tomorrow night then be sure to join Craig for full match commentary on 106.9FM and via our MM-LIVE page, the show begins at 7pm.
Get involved with the show by sending us your thoughts, following Saturday’s game would you class Stags as play-off contenders, title challengers or do you think we should look no further than the next game – tweet us @mtfcmatters or text your views to 07804 15 66 37.
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