Mansfield Town head to the Eco-Power Stadium this evening unbeaten through the first three games of the season.
They opened the campaign with a draw at Crewe Alexandra before dispatching Grimsby Town 2-0 in the Carabao Cup in midweek. And they swept aside Morecambe 3-0 at Field Mill on Saturday. Boss Nigel Clough looks to play attacking football and they did the double over Rovers last season.
LAST TIME OUT
Mansfield Town 3 Morecambe 0
Sky Bet League Two, Saturday, August 12, 2023
Line-up: Pym, Johnson, Kilgour, Flint, Cargill (Bowery 65), Reed (Hartigan 88), Lewis (O'Clarke 88), Quinn (Boateng 65), Keillor-Dunn, Oates (Abdullah 88), Akins. Subs not used: Flinders, Cooper.
Goalscorers: Akins (45+1, 87pen), Keillor-Dunn (62)
Former 14-cap England international forward Clough joined the Stags in November 2020 and has consistently manoeuvred them into the promotion race in Sky Bet League Two.
His managerial career began with then non-league Burton Albion in 1998. He guided the Brewers to the cusp of promotion to the the EFL in 2009 before switching to the Championship with Derby County. Though threatened by relegation in his first season, he secured a 14th place finish with a significant improvement of form.
In 2013 he joined Sheffield United and guided them from the League One relegation zone to seventh in League One, masterminding impressive cup runs and play-off pushes during his time at Bramall Lane.
The 54-year-old returned to Burton in 2015 and delivered magic once again at the Pirelli Stadium by guiding them to the Championship for the first time in their history.
THE KEY MEN
Keeper: Christy Pym
The 28-year-old signed for Mansfield permanently in the summer following a season-long loan at Field Mill from Peterborough United last season, delivering 14 clean sheets in his spell. Pym began his career with Exeter City and made more than 150 appearances for the Grecians over a five-year spell, before joining Posh in 2019.
Defender: Aden Flint
The hugely experienced and towering centre half joined the Stags at the start of the month having helped play a role in Sheffield Wednesday’s dramatic promotion to the Championship via the play-offs. He was only loan at Hillsborough from Stoke City, who he joined following his release from Cardiff City. Breaking through at Swindon Town, Flint made his name at Bristol City before joining Middlesbrough.
In Midfield: Stephen Quinn
The 37-year-old continues to play a major role in the heart of the midfeld for the Stags, whom he joined initially on loan in January 2021. The Irishman played in the Premier League for both Sheffield United and Hull City and has represented the Republic of Ireland on 18 occasions. Quinn made more than 230 appearances for the Blades, where he came through the ranks.
Up top: Lucas Akins
The 34-year-old can operate either in the wide or central attacking areas and already has three goals to his name for the season, having followed up his cup goal against Grimsby Town with a brace in Saturday’s win over Morecambe. Akins joined the Stags for Burton in January 2022 and is closing in on 100 league goals. Prior to joining Burton, Akins featured for Stevenage, Tranmere Rovers and boyhood club Huddersfield Town.
Rovers and Mansfield have crossed swords 56 times in the Football League between 1932 and 2023. Of these meetings, Town have the edge with 26 wins while Rovers have won 15 times. Rovers’ last win over their Nottinghamshire rivals came in April 2017, when a 1-0 win secured promotion from League Two for Darren Ferguson’s side. The scorer that day, Tommy Rowe, may feature for Rovers this evening.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
There has been a fair amount of cross-over of players between Rovers and the Stags, including Ben Whiteman, Danny Andrew, John Doolan, Steve Foster and Steve Harper. One of the more recent instances was that of popular winger and wing-back Matty Blair. He joined Mansfield in January 2015 from Fleetwood Town and was at Field Mill until July 2016. He made 37 appearances for Town, scoring twice.
Matty’s next destination was the Eco-Power Stadium, and in 2016-17 he helped Rovers gain promotion to League One. He made 45 League appearances that season, scoring three goals and providing many assists. He left Rovers in September 2020 to join Cheltenham Town, where he spent two years before retiring. His Rovers record was 162 appearances with ten goals.