FA Cup preview: Stags set for visit of in-form Plymouth
Mansfield Town will look to end a sequence of three games without a win when they face Plymouth Argyle in the first round of the FA Cup.
Adam Murray’s Stags side welcome the Pilgrims to the One Call Stadium on Saturday on the back of a home defeat to Stevenage in League Two.
The disappointment was Mansfield’s third league loss - and fifth in all competitions - in front of their own support this season. Reaction to the result from some sections of the fanbase prompted Murray to contemplate his future following the full time whistle.
It must be remembered the Stags were looking to build on a six-game unbeaten run prior to kick off, even with just two home wins all season.
A break from league action may come at a good time for both Murray and Mansfield but they will be in for a tough ride against Plymouth.
Pilgrims boss Derek Adams has used last season’s play-off final appearance as a springboard this time around, with his side leading the division after 15 games.
Adams has spoken of how Plymouth have always had a target on their backs in League Two, something which has been under more focus after their Wembley defeat to AFC Wimbledon, but it hasn’t seemed to affect them so far.
Plymouth are on a 13-game unbeaten run in the league and have lost just once from 15 outings in all competitions - to Wimbledon in the EFL Trophy. Plymouth maintained that run with a 2-1 win over Colchester United on Saturday, in a game which saw referee Kevin Johnson leave the field on a stretcher following a collision.
Influential midfielder Graham Carey is without doubt Plymouth’s key man, with seven goals to his name so far this season.
The former Celtic youngster, now 27, was one of Adams’ first signings after he took over at Home Park in the summer of 2015. And Carey has carried on where he left off during last season’s play-off campaign, when he bagged 12 goals and numerous assists from 46 appearances.
Whether he will appear in the Pilgrims side to face Stags on Saturday will be a debate across forums, as neither side will want to risk injuries.
As for Murray, he made one change against Stevenage with Alex Iacovitti starting ahead of Mitch Rose. With such a long season ahead and both teams holding aspirations, it is a debate both managers will chew over before kick-off.
However, a potential prize pot of £18,000 for the winner of the tie and the prospect of being one step closer to round three and what the luck of the draw may offer, may come into both managers’ thinking.