The second match of the season, away from home and it’s not Gateshead – thank goodness for that! Now, not for a second am I bemoaning or slagging off the trip to the North East but under Paul Cox they never ended well and in truth, when I looked at the fixture list for the second game of the season, my head dropped in dread.
I can’t guarantee a repeat of the Gateshead results, a hammering and a sending off, but a change of scenery will be welcome for our traveling army of Stags fans, a new competition too could open old memories, Portsmouth, Stoke, Millwall et-el.
The Capital One Cup is a competition we’ve been absent from for a while and whilst we may never reach the final, it’s opportunity to test ourselves against tougher opponents with the luck of the draw and potentially bring some additional money into the club.
Naturally after Bradford City’s success last term, there is renewed hope that a league two club could go on a run and reach the final, for me though this would be the smallest of pipe dreams, what I want from tonight is a good performance from Paul Cox’s men against League One opposition.
Tranmere Rovers are the hosts and will be looking to get back on track after Saturday’s league one opening day defeat to Walsall, Ronnie Moore’s men slipped to a 3-1 defeat on the road. Last term Rovers achieved an 11th place finish in league one and have added quality in every area, tonight will be a tough test for Paul Cox’s Conference Champions against a side with promotion and success in mind.
It would be wrong of me to comment on Saturday’s defeat at Scunthorpe having missed it for personal reasons, the same will be said after tonight will work commitments having to take priority, however without what Cox’s sees as recognised striker starting the match you can’t fault the application of those that did play – whatever the result, nine times out of time you can say a Paul Cox side will have battled.
Tonight will be no different against another tough opponent, keep that atmosphere the same and back the boys, who knows we may upset the odds and make it through to round two, where the draw could throw in another big tie.
LAST TIME WE MET
It’s been a while since Stags and Tranmere last locked horns in 2003, a match which will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The original date was Saturday 25th April 2003 and the sides were at the opposite ends of the table, Tranmere were 13 games unbeaten and had slim hopes of a play-off finish whilst Stags were on a terrible run which saw them all but relegated under new boss Keith Curle. Mansfield needed to win and other results to go their way to stand a slim chance of staying up, although long before the match the management and indeed supporters, had accepted relegation was imminent – the Stags fell behind on 16 minutes when Iain Howe slammed a shot between the legs of a blameless Kevin Pilkington. On the half hour mark a cross from the left hand side led to Tranmere’s second of the match before the drama began during the half time interval.
A man, who was later confirmed as a known psychiatric patient, climbed the floodlight tower and jumped onto the roof of the main stand, parading up and down leading to the stands being evacuated and later, the police match commander, abandoning the match.
Results elsewhere meant Stags were down and Tranmere missed out on the play-offs, with the season near to its end the match had to be slotted in three days after the roof walk. Tranmere’s kind free entrance offer didn’t soften the blow for Stags fans who watched on as there relegated side slumped to a 3-1 defeat.
Earlier in the season it was a completely different feeling as Stags slaughtered Tranmere 6-1 at Field Mill. After conceding a 13th minute opener, strikes from Neil MacKenzie, Scott Sellars, Liam Lawrence, Colin Larkin and a brace from Isden Christie grabbed Stags all the plaudits.
It total the sides have met 75 times, Tranmere lead the victory count 32-23 – they also lead the goal count 120-114 and have restricted Mansfield to only six wins at Prenton Park over the years, a Mansfield’s last victory at Tranmere coming in 1985 when the Stags won by two goals to one.
In recent years the sides have locked horns in pre-season, back in the summer of 2010 Kyle Nix’s 85th minute strike earned David Holdsworth’s Stags side a 1-1 draw.
Following defeat for both sides on opening weekends there could be changes, Paul Cox may well be tempted to hand a full debut to new signing Ollie Palmer up front.
Tranmere boss Moore has vowed to make one or two changes following Saturday’s defeat at Walsall, challenging his new picks to “keep their shirt”.
Should the match finish level after 90 minutes, extra-time and penalties will be used to decide a winner on the night, fingers crossed Briscoe’s got his shooting boots on then!
Written by Craig Priest
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