Mansfield Town blog: Burton Albion match will be a closely fought contest

Mansfield Town v Newport County.  Picture by Dan Westwell.

Mansfield Town v Newport County. Picture by Dan Westwell.

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After a disappointing performance and result at Dagenham and Redbridge on Saturday, the Stags will be hoping to bounce back against promotion contenders Burton Albion tomorrow.

The Brewers are unbeaten in the league and will be coming to Field Mill full of confidence after dumping Premier League QPR out of the League Cup on Wednesday.

The matches between the two sides last season were both tight affairs, with just a single goal scored.

The way this season has shaped up so far, I would expect another competitive, low-scoring game.

One positive to come from this week for Stags fans has been that the uncertainty over the future of Sam Clucas appears to have been resolved, at least for now.

Bitter rivals Chesterfield were the favourites to sign the 23 year-old winger, but were not prepared to improve their initial bid.

However, a number of clubs are reportedly interested in Clucas, including Leyton Orient and Scunthorpe United, and I suspect there is still a possibility that he could be sold on deadline day.

If this happens, replacements would need to be brought in quickly.

Cox had wanted to strengthen following the departure of Amari’i Bell back to his parent club Birmingham City, and the unfortunate injury to Liam Hearn, which will keep the striker sidelined until Christmas, but his requests were not granted by chairman John Radford.

The injury to Hearn was particularly damaging, as it has left Cox short of goalscoring options upfront.

Matt Rhead is a useful lower league target-man, but his uncompromising style of play is perhaps more effective when coming off the bench to exploit any tiredness in opposition defences than from the start of games.

Similarly, Ollie Palmer has plenty of raw potential but at the moment lacks a predatory instinct in front of goal.

Summer signing Alex Fisher has also yet to convince me that he is the 20 goal a season striker we have been missing since Matt Green left the club.

And Clucas, despite having played as a striker for much of his time at Mansfield, is clearly better as a winger than as a forward.

An interesting side-note to tomorrow’s game is that Darren Drysdale has been appointed as the referee.

His past performances will live long in the memory for Stags fans for all the wrong reasons.

In last season’s home game against York City, Drysdale awarded the visitors two dubious penalties, and was roundly booed off the pitch at the end of the game, with cries of “Cheat!” being hurled in his direction.

Earlier in the season, Drysdale sent two Stags players off on a Friday night to forget in Southend, when Mansfield lost 3-0.

Sadly, it would come as no surprise to see fans once again waiting by the tunnel baying for blood come the final whistle, following yet another controversial performance.