LOMAS ON STAGS: Will refreshed Mansfield Town come back all guns blazing after break?
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Both sides have enjoyed a 10 day break from action after first round exits from the FA Cup.
And, while that also spells revenue loss and no glorious cup run to face one of the game’s big guns in a later round, it was perfectly timed for Nigel Clough’s men.
After such a fantastic start to the season, the club had seen their unbeaten start to the season evaporate in a frustrating late defeat at Swindon Town and then four days later they dropped two precious home points to a Tranmere Rovers side three from the bottom.
So with player recovering from knocks and some just plain exhausted from their early season heroics, the break has been a welcome one and something that could prove pivotal in the bigger picture of the holy grail of promotion.
The lack of the usual home atmosphere for the Tranmere clash may have suggested some fans believed the three points were all but Mansfield’s before kick off.
But Rovers are much improved and have now taken eight points from four games and on that showing look unlikely to be involved in the relegation scrap.
Mansfield did not hit top gear, some players looked off it, and the pitch was not conducive to Stags’ passing game on the night.
But sometimes you have to give credit to the opponents and, knowing how much Stags would have of the ball and the chances they can create, Nigel Adkins’ men got their tactics spot on with a solid wall of defence coupled with lightning breaks that twice saw them take the lead.
It was a game Mansfield in past years might well have lost. Instead it could prove a vital, hard-earned point.
Defensive midfield Louis Reed, who knits much of what Stags do together, certainly had an off night and he will get more time to rest after picking up a fifth booking which rules him out for Saturday’s visit of MK Dons, who are high in the current form table.
But a well overdue first league goal of the campaign for Will Swan could finally kickstart his season and he will have been the only one desperate for a game last Saturday.