BIG MATCH PREVIEW – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
After a couple of false dawns, Mansfield Town once again try to kickstart some consistent home form on Saturday.
Everyone had hoped the win over Notts County was the boost needed for the Stags to start matching their excellent away form, but it took a late Matt Green equaliser two weekends back to grab a 1-1 draw with Wycombe.
However, last weekend Adam Murray’s men were lifted by an excellent 1-1 draw at high-flying Luton Town.
Murray believes Saturday’s opponents, Stevenage, are in a false position, sitting 22nd in League Two.
But they have only won once in their last seven games, that being an excellent 2-0 victory in their last away game at Morecambe – their only away League win of the season.
Click HERE to read a match report from Luton v Stags
Click HERE to read Adam Murray’s views on Stevenage
STAGS TEAM NEWS
After a recent glut of injury problems, Mansfield are now getting back towards a fully fit squad.
Centre half George Taft was back running last week and won’t be far off rejoining full training.
Midfield tiger Jamie McGuire could return this weekend after a scare with a leg injury that has seen him miss two games.
A nasty kick in training saw the leg swell up badly and the player pass out in hospital. That settled and it was hoped he’d play at Luton last weekend, but had to go back to hospital to have some fluid drained and Luton proved too soon.
To be fair, Stags did well at Luton and it’s hard to envisage any changes.
However, needing to spark some home form, Murray tried wing backs last home game which failed to work.
He is likely to stick with 4-1-2-3, but could end up trying 3-5-2 again if he feels that could be better to break down the visitors.
POSSIBLE STAGS STARTING XI
Shearer, Benning, Pearce, Howkins, Bennett, Collins, M. Rose, Clements, Hurst, Hoban, Green.
STEVENAGE TEAM NEWS
Key striker Matt Godden felt his calf last Saturday and was taken off a few minutes before the end, but he is expected be fine for this weekend.
Tyler Walker (Nottingham Forest loanee striker) has missed the last three games with a knee injury but could be back in contention, though Jobi McAnuff (fractured toe) is a couple of weeks away.
So the visitors are expected to retain the same line-up that pushed Carlisle United close last weekend.
POSSIBLE STEVENAGE STARTING XI
Day, Henry, Ntlhe, Wilkinson, Franks, Cowans (Villa loanee), Gorman, Lee, King (Scunthorpe loanee), Kennedy, Godden.
KEY BATTLE: KRYSTIAN PEARCE v MATT GODDEN
Matt Godden looked very good pre-season after signing from Ebbsfleet and, the odd injury aside, has carried his form on into this season with four goals to his name and five assists.
He plays well in a front two and has been partnered by firstly Walker and then Ben Kennedy.
He has also been used as a lone striker in a 4-3-3 with two wingers, but that hasn’t really worked. He’s a hard working player and has settled in nicely.
Click HERE to watch a video interview with Matt Godden about joining Stevenage
STEVENAGE ONE TO WATCH: HARRY McKIRDY
Young forward Harry McKirdy is on loan from Aston Villa.
He hasn’t been given too many opportunities yet, but when he has come off the bench he’s looked very lively, especially last Saturday when he almost got an equaliser against Carlisle.
He’s nimble, wears short shorts and gloves, and he’s a decent little player. McKirdy could pose a problem or two for Mansfield if brought on this weekend, though he is likely to start the afternoon on the bench.
OPPOSITION MANAGER: DARREN SARLL
Darren Sarll, 33, was the manager of the club’s academy and promoted last year to a first team coach under new boss Teddy Sheringham.
When Sheringham went at the end of February, Sarll took over temporarily and then, once he had guided the club to safety with a fine defensive record towards the end of the season, got the gig on a permanent deal.
He was at that time the youngest manager in the top four leagues.
He’s got Glenn Roeder working alongside him while Nicky Shorey, the former Reading defender, has recently been brought in as a coach.
STEVENAGE SEASON SO FAR
Stevenage went into the season looking for a better campaign than last year. They targeted a top half finish, possibly leading to the play-offs, but it’s been a tough few months.
They have just the one win on the road in the league and are now third bottom. Defensively they have struggled for consistency while in the last three games all four goals conceded have come from set piece situations.
In those three games Stevenage, to be fair, have played Plymouth (2-1 home defeat), Morecambe (2-0 away win) and Carlisle (2-1 home defeat).
So it’s been a tough recent run, but against Morecambe and again last Saturday they played quite well and Stags boss Adam Murray believes their league position is a false one.
Saturday 9th January 2016: Mansfield Town 2, Stevenage 1
Mansfield Town pushed themselves back into the play-off reckoning with a 2-1 win over struggling Stevenage in January of this year.
Goals from Chris Clements and debutant James Baxendale capped a fine win to end a run of four without a win.
Stags took the lead when Clements curled a free-kick home from the edge of the box on 42 minutes.
It capped a good first half for Stags which saw Clements and Westcarr go close.
Stevenage’s best chance of the half came when Michael Tonge hit the post with a curling effort from 20 yards.
Tonge wasted a good chance to level when he headed Rohdell Gordon’s corner wide on the hour mark.
Chris Day kept the visitors in it a minute later when he blocked Craig Westcarr’s strike with his legs.
But there was nothing he could do when Baxendale fired a perfectly placed effort past him from 20 yards on 65 minutes.
Armand Gnanduillet hit a consolation goal for the visitors from eight yards with the last kick of the game.
Click HERE to read the match report
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