Craig Priest Writes....
Saturday saw Mansfield finally get the victory they deserved as Ben Hutchinson’s 95th second strike proved the eventual difference over Southport, with a victory under their belts focus now turns to two key areas – turning the away form around and progressing in the FA Cup.
£18,000 is up for grabs plus a trip to either Lincoln City or Walsall for the winners, The Imps and Saddlers battle it out at the same time as Stags take on the lowest ranked team left in the competition, Slough Town.
The Rebels as we can remember from the first leg will battle and fight for every ball, just one defeat in eleven games compared to Mansfield’s three wins in ten outings puts Steve Bateman’s Slough as the form team. Additionally on home soil Slough have been beaten only twice in 15 competitive outings whilst Mansfield have only collected two wins from just nine competitive away games, with Slough smelling a giant killing and Mansfield, delicate let’s say away from home, the pressure is certainly off the hosts but on the Stags.
That a side tomorrow’s just another game and one the Stags will want to win, having the moment after that 1-0 victory over Southport on Saturday and a 1-1 draw at Nuneaton midweek following the original tie with Slough. The Rebels meanwhile suffered a last minute 3-2 defeat against Rugby in their midweek fixture, a game which saw Danny Murphy dismissed – however it proved just a blip as on Saturday, they romped to a 6-1 victory over Ashford Town with deadly hit man Danny Burnell adding another three goals to his collection for Slough.
We’ve said it day in day out that the away form is poor, I think tomorrow we should forget this and relieve a little bit of un-needed pressure and treat the game as a stepping stone, respecting Slough 100%. In the coming weeks we have a home tie with Luton (Sunday 1pm) before a midweek trip to Macclesfield, an FA Trophy first round home tie with Matlock Town (facing two MTFC’s back to back must be a first?) before either a trip to Stockport in the league or either Lincoln or Walsall depending on results – no matter the permutations all are tough games but ones in which we need to enter with some consistency in our squad and results, we have the former developing nicely and I don’t see that changing tomorrow whilst the latter is in our hands as we make the trip to Slough.
Looking briefly ahead, Luton are without a win in three games, possibly four if Nuneaton win the replay tomorrow whilst Macclesfield, our opponents a week tomorrow, saw an unbeaten run of six come to an end at Cambridge on Saturday. Both then are teetering on a stumble whilst we are pulling ourselves back up, a win against Slough tomorrow could be the one to ignite us more.
Looking at the game itself Slough’s Holloways Park, which they share with Beaconsfield SYCOB, will be an extremely tough place to go. Not only is Slough’s home record one to be proud of but the pitch will be difficult to play, if we’re going to play our fast and fluid game then we’re going to have to be technically good. The Slough support will be loud too as they chase an upset, the game is likely to be un-segregated so maybe Stags fans should aim to group together and out-do the hosts. It will be cold, most likely wet and grim surroundings so positive attitudes will be hard to maintain, can we do it – of course.
Slough have some technically gifted players. Burman will have to keep quiet so he doesn’t add to his 67 goals in 109 appearances since joining from Wealdstone in September 2010. Ben Hutchinson, Nick Wright, Lindon Meikle and Louis Briscoe will need to maintain their form too, Slough have conceded on average one goal per game in their last six outings.
Once more I stress the importance of not being arrogant and playing to the last whistle, Slough are a proud side and won’t go down without a fight – Mansfield Town, be prepared and for god sake, unlike last time, BE RUTHLESS!!
LAST TIME WE MET/ ABOUT THE VISITORS
Tomorrow’s encounter with Slough will be the first time the sides have met on Slough turf and only the second time ever in the clubs history, on the back of that goalless draw at the One Call Stadium nine days ago. Slough, formed in 1893, have spent their entire life as a non-league side and prior to the FA Cup first round draw, and avoided any meeting with Stags.
Managed by former Everton youngster Steve Bateman since March 2009, the Evo-Stik Southern League Outfit are a club that may be small in stature but big in terms of ambition and dreams. They come into tomorrow’s game with a five game unbeaten run in the league and an eight game unbeaten run in all competitions throughout October as they search for promotion at the fourth time of asking under Bateman’s guidance, he himself a former Rebel having played 109 games netting six goals from 1994 to 1997.
The tough centre half arrived as mentioned at the back end of the 2008-09 season and rescued Slough from relegation, leading them to the play-offs the following season. A 5th placed finish saw Batemans men beat second placed Hitchin Town 2-1 to progress to the final and be in with a shout of a Blue Square South place, however Chesham United ended that dream with a resounding 4-0 win. Bateman never gave up on the dream and it was so nearly De-Ja-Vou the following season, again finishing in 5th the rebels met Hitchin in the semi-final, this time losing 4-1.
Last tem Bateman again as determined to find success, finishing second after only seven defeats all term the Rebels met Beaconsfield SYCOB in the semi-final but again slipped to defeat, a tight 2-1.
REACHING ROUND ONE
Tomorrow will be Slough’s eighth game of the competition after entering at preliminary round stage; they will be looking for another scalp after beating Walsall in Round One in 2004, of course should they beat us, the two could meet again in round two should the saddles beat Lincoln.
The Rebels cup journey began in August as goals from Burnell and Nathan Bowden-Haase added to a brace from Sean Sonner to see of Corinthan 4-2 in the preliminary round. Next up was a home tie with Lingfield in the first qualifying round, defender Bowden-Haase was again on target along with Dominic Rhone and Edward Smith, the latter netting twice in a 4-1 win.
Goals from Adam Logie, Edward Smith and the deadly Burnell along with two late penalties from David Deeny helped smash Eastbourne Town 5-1 before Burnell hit the only goal in a 1-0 win away to Margate in the third qualifying round.
Gosport Borough provided the test in the fourth qualifier round, the Rebels grabbed revenge for Gosport’s FA Trophy success weeks earlier. Whilst Mansfield were beating Workington the Rebels and Gosport played out a goalless draw. The replay, with Mansfield watching closely, saw Gosport grab a half time 1-0 lead however second half goals from Rhone and Burnell sealed the tie and set up the trip to the One Call Stadium, where they defended resiliently against a barrage of Stags attacks to set up yet another replay.
There are no fresh worries for Paul Cox as Stags make the two hour forty minute trip to Holloways Park. Jake Speight, who was suspended for the original match could prove an unknown threat for Slough although it’s likely Cox will make no changes. Youth team shot stoppers Ryan Hopkins and Jordan Fell are in the running to accompany the senior side on the journey with no back up for Shane Redmond between the sticks, however I’m not entirely sure they’ll be able to take part in anything other than the warm up as those used in a replay must have been registered prior to the original game – I could be wrong though!
Please note a slight change in coverage tomorrow evening as, due to broadcasting regulations from round one and thereafter, we are UNABLE to bring anything other than updates to you without paying the, slightly hefty, fee of roughly £800 + VAT! I considered just updates for you however myself and Martin Shaw (StagsPlayer and BBC Radio Notts) have decided to pair up on behalf of the club, who do NOT have to pay a fee for coverage.
Full match commentary will therefore be on StagsPlayer, which as mentioned for the reserves games is a subscription only service. Sign up to Player here
Myself and Martin will share commentary duties, going live with Build Up from 7.30pm where you’ll hear from Paul Cox plus highlights of the previous tie with Slough and much more.
Mansfield Matters will return to our free to air website on Sunday when Stags take on Luton Town.
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