Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow’s lengthy FA Cup trip...
Sometimes I love this time of the season as the FA Cup takes over. The magic of the FA Cup seems to fade away with the evening sun most seasons but every now and again there are glimpses and experiences of that magic – every dog does have its day.
For example I recall watching Alan Shearer make history for Newcastle against the Stags in January 2006, his 80th minute goal equalling Jackie Milburn’s 200 club goal record and breaking brave Stags hearts in the process. The memory of standing outside St James with friends and family is one I’ll treasure forever, the view from my seats one I’ll never forget either. A few seasons later, this time at Field Mill, Gareth Southgate’s Middlesbrough side ran out 2-0 winners despite a gutsy performance from a stags side who, went onto be relegated.
There will have been more cup memories down the years which each individual reader will remember, tomorrow probably won’t be one of them as we head to Blue Square North side Workington AFC, but still it could be the beginning of something – after all the FA Cup can often be the stuff of dreams, it’s been a while since we ventured into the round three draw and experienced the magic – win tomorrow and who knows what the draw will spring or indeed how far we could go.
It won’t be an easy game, in fact it will probably seem like a normal league match – Workington despite recent results are tough to beat, especially when you add in the fact that beating us would be a scalp – we on the other hand area mediocre away side at best having collected just one away win all term.
I guess then that tomorrow is the platform for us to address our away form and continue to turn our sluggish start on its head – Workington will be similar to a lot of the places we have to visit soon and the standard of football won’t be too different. We’ll have to fight the boggy pitch, we’ll have to counter the hosts’ desire for a giant killing and more importantly, be professional to the last. It’s a long journey and an uninspiring one, one the coast line it’ll be wet and windy, the historic element of Workington, an ex football league outfit, will be there for all to see and we must kill their dreams of reviving their name – we have to do all of this without being arrogant.
I know it’s a totally different competition, but in last year’s FA Trophy we lost to Droylsden but under estimating them, by not matching their fight and willingness, by arriving and thinking we had a divine right to win – we must avoid a repeat of this tomorrow, otherwise I think it’ll kill us – it took a good month or so to pick ourselves up from the Droylsden loss last term, personally I don’t think we have that now – we are so fragile in our development process, one knock could kill us all together. Without going over the top, tomorrow could be a case of Kill or be killed – what I mean by that is, let’s have the mentality of doing what’s required, win at all costs.
As mentioned above Workington are an ex football league outfit who lost their league status in 1977, they’ll be eager to show there long suffering fans they still have what it takes to beat those higher than them. Promotion from the Northern Premier in 2005 via the play-offs took the Reds into the Blue Square North we’re they’ve been ever since. Darren Edmondson has been at the helm since September 2007, also registered as a player the stalwart defender last term managed to avoid relegation in the final month of the season, two seasons previous he came exceeding close to promotion, losing out in the play-off semi-finals to Alferton following an excellent 11 game unbeaten run. There Borough Park ground is an old football stadia which history hasn’t been too kind too, prior to the Bradford City fire in 1985 the Reds home used to have a big all wooden upper tier main stand which was once packed out to see the Busby Babes of Manchester United in an FA Cup third round tie in the mid 50’s prior to the Munich Air Disaster. The aforementioned Bradford City fire saw Workington, along with numerous other clubs, tear down their main stand and reduce the grounds capacity, the club offices and dressing rooms now sit in the space of the old stand with the bright red roof still intact as a constant reminder of what once was – Workington is very much a place of history, the thing with history is, it can be created as well as remembered, hopefully not tomorrow though eh!
Edmondson has previously reached round one of the FA Cup, the world’s oldest football competition, back in his debut season as manager he took the Reds to a first round clash with Bury, a 4-1 defeat was one to forget especially for captain Dave Hewson who suffered a broken bone in his foot ten minutes into the match, as he approaches the back end of his career he’ll be eager for an FA Cup run remember for the right reasons.
Back to the Stags and Paul Cox certainly has food for thought tomorrow, he’ll be forced into two changes as Notts County don’t want Liam Mitchell cup tied whilst skipper Adam Murray serves a one game ban for picking up five yellow cards. The Reserve teams 7-0 battering of Bradford midweek however could be the platform for others such as Hutchinson, Clements and Wright to come in – I’ve every faith things will click.
LAST TIME WE MET
The Stags and Workington do have a history both in the cup and in the league, Workington having faced the Stags on a seasonally basis between 1951 and 1975 – the Stags racking up 14 league wins to Workington’s 9 – there have also been as many league draws down the years with a goal share in the league of 98, Mansfield lead 56-42.
The sides first met back in 1938 in the FA Cup first round which saw Stags travel to Workington. The hosts grabbed a 1-1 draw but were beaten 2-1 in the replay – it was the same outcome in 1956 however the 1-1 draw took place in Mansfield before Workington won the replay 2-1 at their place.
Incidentally Mansfield’s last trip to Workington was on October 12th 1974, the Stags running out 3-1 winners, this win their 6th at Workington where Mansfield have suffered five defeats and played out as many draws, in terms of goals Mansfield lead in all competitions at Workington 29-28.
As mentioned Paul Cox with be without loanee keeper Liam Mitchell whose kept two consecutive clean sheets, Shane Redmond who kept a clean sheet for the Reserves midweek will return to the line up. Cox will also be without his captain Adam Murray who will revert to his assistant manager role as he serves a one game ban. In defence it looks certain Luke Jones will start as George Pilkington (back), Exodus Geohaghon (Ankle), Ryan Tafazolli (Hamstring) and John Thompson (Lacking match fitness) look likely to miss out with injury. Paul Cox will also be waiting on the fitness of midweek hat-trick hero Nick Wright as he continues to comeback from an Ankle injury. Ross Dyer, Jamie Hand and Alan Marriott also remain out.
If you’re not making the trek to Cumbria tomorrow then be sure to join me for full match commentary on 106.9FM and via our popular MM-LIVE Page, build up starts at 2pm which will include a look back at last week’s first team and reserve team matches, a look at the two side plus your FA Cup memories and how far you think Stags can go in this year’s competition.
Away from the radio or your laptop? Good news, listeners with an iPhone or Android can download an app called TuneIn Radio - Takeovers stream is back up and running - simply search for 'Takeover Radio 106.9'
Please not that we have been advised facilities will be limited at Borough Park in terms of power etc tomorrow, this may mean the audio may decrease in quality a little however EVERYTHING is on charge and we WILL be bringing you full commentary as usual both online and on FM!
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