For 10-or-so minutes on Easter Monday, we’d put ourselves in the box seat. Getting in front against Exeter had lifted us into the top seven for the first time since we can’t remember when. Then the Grecians spoiled it all by doing something stupid like score too. It’s a bit annoying that other results went our way ‘n’ all. But nowt much has changed in the grand scheme of things. We still need to see it through in our next two outings in any case.
Mansfield Town v Stevenage: The Lowdown
Of course, first up is Mansfield on the road. And none of our rivals for the affections of the fourth playoff spot have a harder sell. Sure, Newport have Lincoln indoors. But Dave Parade gives ’em an edge we don’t have up at Field Mill. Still, three points – no matter how unlikely that seems on paper – gives us a chance to sweep in there if the others don’t have the afternoon they’d like. The trouble is the Stags have their own lusts and desires.
P13 W5 D1 L7 F18 A19; last result: Stevenage 1-3 Mansfield Town, 22/12/2018
The return fixture earlier this season doesn’t need revisiting; suffice to say it saw us go into Christmas with the right ‘ump. While our overall record against the Stags isn’t dreadful, the concern is that we’ve not beaten them in four matches now. Our last win over them came at their gaff back in October 2016. And we’ve actually come out on top in just two of our nine Football League encounters. A record ripe for a change, we’d say…
P10 W4 D0 L6 F11 A17; last result: Stevenage 0-2 Forest Green Rovers, 26/01/2019
Our ref this time is Darren Drysdale, diplomatically referred to as a ‘disaster ref‘ in other parts of the land. And a disaster he’s been for us recently; Boro’ losing the last three he’s been involved in. But hang on a darn-tootin’ moment! Drysdale was actually ref the day we came back from two-nil down at Field Mill to win 3-2 in the Blue Square Premier. It’s a pretty ropey omen, but football’s full of ’em and we’ll have it.
The Stags’ recent form isn’t as strong as it was during the first half of term – they’d only lost one league game coming into 2019, after all. Monday’s 3-2 defeat at Oldham ended a run of four without defeat. Yet, this ended a run of four matches without a win. There’s enough to keep up with, innit? Us, meanwhile, are on a run of four without defeat and hope Mansfield don’t feel a need to see us suffer the same fate as they did five days ago.
It’s no shock the Stags have a mean attack, scoring in each of the last seven on the way. They comfortably have the best defence in the league and the second-best home record too. It shows you just how tough this’ll be, even though we might well have won our last two on our travels. For us, we’ll no doubt bloody their noses and give it some good welly. But it looks like it’ll be a step too far and there’s no great shame in that whatsoever.
• MORE ABOUT ‘EM: Mansfield Town club profile