_ Craig Priest previews tomorrow's trip to Newport County...
At the time of writing it’s been 20 days since Gary Roberts tapped home our third goal, sealing victory at Ebbsfleet. The past three weeks have been dominated by Mother Nature and Jack Frost, who have conspired to see our last three scheduled games postponed, leaving us frustrated and hungry for football. Finally the wait is over as tomorrow, we head to South Wales to take on Newport County.
Usually there are a few groans when a trip to Wales is mentioned, it never seems to be a lucky place to visit as over the past few years we’ve returned from Wrexham, Swansea, Newport and Cardiff empty handed. Tonight though you can sleep soundly in your beds as the Mansfield-Welsh hoodoo is over, Paul Connor’s 90th minute striker was the icing on the cake as we defeated then league leaders Wrexham on their own patch back in September with a 3-1 victory.
The task that night was to fight against those fighting for the exit to the next level, the fight tomorrow is totally different as we face a team rebuilding and looking to distance themselves from the drop zone, at this stage of the season facing a team at the bottom end of the table can be more difficult than a team at the top, especially after such a long layoff. In the time Mansfield have been cursing the relationship of Nature and Frost, Newport have been distancing themselves from the drop with a point against Stockport and all three against Bath City on Tuesday night on home soil. Justin Edinburgh’s side are now, like ourselves, on a six game unbeaten run with the exiles form coming in all competitions as they progress through to the quarter finals of the FA Trophy. Newport’s last defeat came on January 3rd, a 3-2 defeat at fellow strugglers Bath City – since then the South Wales club who are also close to a change of home, have gathered momentum under the former Rushden & Diamonds manager. Tomorrow they will be itching to stretch their run a little further with another fixture arriving in quick succession, we must be sure our cobwebs are blown off before the referee starts the game, I do not want a repeat of last season’s home fixture played a year and five days ago, when we we’re three nil down within 28 minutes, two down within two minutes.
Looking at this seasons stats though and seeing how each team has fared in comparison to last season, I think there’s more chance of me winning the euro millions than that happening! (I haven’t brought a ticket). Newport have struggled at home this season and have only picked up four victories. On home soil the exiles have the second worst rated from line in the entire division, they lie 23rd in the home goal scoring charts, something which the departure of leading scorer Danny Rose to Fleetwood, would not have helped. On the flip side Newport’s home defence is rated far higher, sitting in 6th in the defensive league standings, I’m sure this will please former Tottenham defender Edinburgh however I’m sure he’ll be weary of our strike force, which bagged five in the return fixture, however this was under previous manager Anthony Hudson’s brief tenure.
If you want to balance the books and have a look at our defensive record on the road, we have the third best defence away from home with a clean sheet percentage of 40% - that said I can throw these stats around all night long and play the game on paper, but we all know that won’t get us the three points tomorrow, only hard work, determination like usual, will seal the win. Paul Cox isn’t daft either, he’s kept the lads on their toes and rather than build comedy snowmen on the training ground, the boys have been around the local leisure centres running, keeping fit and cursing the words ‘Bleep Test’. Not only that but the Stags head-honcho has found the lads a few 3G pitches to train on as well, plus they’ve had a taste of competitive action last Saturday, seeing off Sutton Coldfield Town 2-0 on their artificial pitch. I’m confident this time round, the lads will stuff have their focus and tomorrow will see us continue our unbeaten 2012 and stretch our unbeaten run to 7 league games.
Justin Edinburgh as I’ve mentioned is a good manager and keeps his side well drilled, in his previous jobs at Fisher Athletic, Grays Athletic and Rushden, he’s achieved success in some form, now tasked with guiding Newport away from the drop zone following predecessor Anthony Hudson’s fall from 12th place to 23rd, in a run which featured five consecutive defeats. Going well in the Trophy too, Mansfield will have to show there ruthless, ugly side in south Wales, to return home with all the points in the bag.
If you can’t get to Newport tomorrow well 106.9FM and indeed our MM-LIVE page is the place to be, join myself, Scott Rogers and guest Wayne Briggs for build up on 106.9FM only from 2pm-2.45pm – then join us on 106.9FM AND ONLINE from 2.50pm for full commentary. Below is a short list of some of the things we’ll be talking about during build up, don’t forget to have your say – see details on how to do so below.
· Look back at our 6 game unbeaten run, who has stood out and what the key factor is being the run
· HOT TOPIC: 3G Pitches. We debate the use of 3G pitches and weigh up the pros and cons of introducing them to Mansfield Town and the football conference
· Ebbsfleet Away: we play highlights of our last game, a 3-0 win at Ebbsfleet back in January
· We bring you the latest on the youth team, the recent friendly fixtures and discuss the new additions, Sam Craven and Matt Rhead
Get in touch via facebook or twitter, alternatively you can TEXT US on 07982 865 624 or message us via Skype, just add craigpriest14.
__ Last Time We Met
Mansfield last faced Newport at Field Mill earlier in the season when the Stags picked up their fourth consecutive victory and clean sheet, hammering Hudson’s failing exiles 5-0 in front of the premier sports TV cameras on September 10th.
A brace from Louis Briscoe which included a sublime volley, plus goals from Matt Green, Ross Dyer and full back Luke O’Neill sealed the win. Tomorrow’s trip will be Mansfield’s third to Newport, last season’s trip being the only competitive one however as Dean’s Newport, won the battle of the Holdsworth twins. The previous trip was for a pre-season friendly, when David’s new look Mansfield ran out 2-0 winners with Kyle Perry netting both.
LINE UP (Vs Newport 10th September) Stags 5-0 Newport: [4-4-2] Marriott, O'Neill . Futcher, Sutton, Kendrick, Briscoe , Murray (C), Howell (Worthington), Meikle (Smith), Dyer  (Connor), Green  SNU: Redmond, Naylor
A podcast of the game can be heard below, with commentary from Craig Priest
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