With the distraction of the FA Cup behind us and the lorry load of banana skins avoided – the Stags attention turns back to Sky Bet League Two and the tricky trip to Coventry City, a game for which the need to adapt and prepare for battle.
Having played on a very bobbly and narrow pitch last weekend at a ground open to the elements with hollow shipping containers for dressing rooms, the Stags make the trip to the polar opposite in Coventry’s Ricoh Arena – a venue with over a 32,000 capacity.
Mansfield must be prepared for a wide, big pitch – with varying atmosphere – however with over 1,600 Stags fans making the trip, the vocal backing of the yellow and blue army will only help to encourage.
Coventry are a difficult side to break down, despite a poor home record – they are very difficult to break down, and having conceded just eight all season have the divisions best back line.
Mansfield’s patience isn’t great but if they can stay fairly solid themselves and show the same determination as they did at shaw lane, calling upon the creativity of Joel Byrom, they could well put a blot on Coventry’s defensive record.
The sky blues who fell from league one last term have, like us, a very big squad with a lot of talented players – it will be one of the most evenly matched contests I believe that City have faced thus far – however Mansfield will have to adapt quickly, with both towering defender and vice captain Krystian Pearce AND creative midfielder Jacob Mellis suspended following five bookings.
Steve Evans is also without front man Lee Angol and defender David Mirfin, both injured, meaning the back-line especially could be a bit of a gamble. Paul Digby is the natural choice for me to play alongside Zander Diamond at centre-back – he’s tall and commanding and has the edge of the impressive Rhys Bennett as he’s paired Diamond in a competitive match [Vs Everton U23s in the Checkatrade Trophy].
Coventry, like Mansfield, are backed by many for promotion this season and following our ‘false start’ we really need to send a message to the rest of league two that we are serious contenders and not in the mix by virtue of Steve Evans’ promotions record.
Beating Coventry is the perfect way to do that and set ourselves off on a run which can help us climb, hopefully by turning draws into wins – it’s a tough place to travel for sure, but with backing from the Stags faithful in big numbers, it’s a challenge that must be risen too and three bags of Coventry coal that must be collected!
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