LOMAS ON STAGS: Mansfield's record unbeaten run is equalled but ended by double cup exit

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All good things must come to an end – and Mansfield Town’s sensational unbeaten start to the season finally hit the buffers this week.

An 19-game unbeaten start which, coupled with a win on the last day of last season, had equalled a club record of 20 unbeaten games, was where it ended as Stags frustratingly failed to set a new record.

But Mansfield’s main ambi tion this season is promotion so it was heartening that the run was ended by two cup exits inside five days and no league defeat.

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The 1-0 Carabao Cup defeat by Port Vale in the One Call Stadium fog was quite an eye-opener in terms of how far the Valiants have come on as a team since that heartbreaking day at Wembley when they beat Mansfield in the Play-Off final.

Rhys Oates marks his return from injury with a goal in Saturday's FA Cup home defeat by Wrexham. Photo by Chris & Jeanette Holloway/The Bigger Picture.mediaRhys Oates marks his return from injury with a goal in Saturday's FA Cup home defeat by Wrexham. Photo by Chris & Jeanette Holloway/The Bigger Picture.media
Rhys Oates marks his return from injury with a goal in Saturday's FA Cup home defeat by Wrexham. Photo by Chris & Jeanette Holloway/The Bigger Picture.media

They looked a class above and underlined just how much improvement Nigel Clough would need to make to his squad to be able to compete week in week out should they achieve their promotion aim.

Peterborough United, from the same division, also showed the difference as they dominated long spells in the previous round before Stags pipped them on penalties. But it was a very different story in Saturday’s night’s FA Cup exit to promotion rivals Wrexham.

Despite being weary from the Vale tie while Wrexham had a clear week, and the pitch being sodden from continual rain, Clough’s men gave their all and created as many chances at the visitors.

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But wasteful finishing saw them beaten 2-1 and out of the cup at the first hurdle.

It hurt on the night and the two cup exits hurt as a whole. But they will soon be forgotten if Stags can win at Salford City on Saturday to continue their push for a top three spot.

Despite all the money spent and the changes of managers Salford continue to flatter to deceive at this level and already find themselves down in 13th place, eight points behind Stags and having played a game more.

But Mansfield have only taken a single point from their three trips there since Salford were promoted and last season lost both clashes, going down 5-2 at home to the Ammies.

Stags have certainly missed striker Lucas Akins since he took a knock to the face three games back and will hope his operation is a success and he can return next week.