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.
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