Rovers round off 2023 with another road trip into Nottinghamshire as they visit Mansfield Town.
The Stags have lost just one Sky Bet League Two game all season and have yet to suffer defeat at home in the competition, as they sit five points off top spot in the division with two games in hand.
THE LAST MEETING(S)
The two sides have met twice this term already, in both league and Bristol Street Motors Trophy action.
Rovers led twice at the Eco-Power Stadium back in August through a Tom Nixon stunner and a Joe Ironside strike but Mansfield fought back to earn a point with Louis Reed and George Maris on the scoresheet in a competitive affair.
It proved to be another closely fought battle when the two met again in October at the One Call Stadium in a group tie in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy.
Mansfield raced into a two goal lead inside the first 13 minutes with James Gale netting both, including one from the spot.
But Rovers fought back with Ben Close and Ironside drawing them level by just after the hour mark.
Though Grant McCann’s side had the better of the remaining play, Mansfield grabbed the decisive goal two minutes from time through Callum Johnson.
MANSFIELD’S RECENT FORM
The Stags’ solitary league defeat came away at Swindon Town with a 2-1 reverse on November 25. While a 2-2 draw with Tranmere Rovers followed, Nigel Clough’s side have won their last three matches - including.a 2-0 triumph over Grimsby Town on Boxing Day.
Of their last ten games, Mansfield have won eight, drawn one and lost one - conceding just seven goals and scoring 22.
While they have had few issues in front of goal recently, overall they have scored just 15 times in ten league matches on home soil this season - though they have only conceded five in that run.
LAST TIME OUT
Mansfield Town 2 Grimsby Town 0
Sky Bet League Two, Tuesday, December 26, 2023
Line-up: Pym, Johnson (McLaughlin 46), Flint, Cargill, Bowery, Quinn (Clarke 69), Brunt, Reed (Williams 85), Maris (Oates 69), Keillor-Dunn (Swan 85), Akins. Subs not used: Flinders, MacDonald.
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. In 27 appearances this season he has kept ten clean sheets and conceded 24 goals.
Defender: Aden Flint
The hugely experienced and towering centre half joined the Stags at the start of the season having helped play a role in Sheffield Wednesday’s dramatic promotion to the Championship via the play-offs while on loan from Stoke City. He joined the Potters following his release from Cardiff City. Breaking through at Swindon Town, Flint made his name at Bristol City before joining Middlesbrough. The 34-year-old has scored twice in 30 appearances this season.
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. He has found the net once in 13 appearances this season but has provided six assists.
Up top: Davis Keillor-Dunn
The 26-year-old can operate either in the wide or central attacking areas and has 13 goals and four assists to his name from 27 appearances this season - putting him well on course to beat his previous best of 17. The Sunderland-born forward had a nomadic youth career that took in clubs in the north east and Chesterfield before he broke through with Ross County north of the border. After a spell with Wrexham, he joined Oldham Athletic in 2020 before earning a move to Burton Albion following the Latics’ relegation to the National League. Keillor-Dunn joined Mansfield in January.
Rovers and Mansfield have met 70 times in all competitions since first locking horns in Division Three North in 1932. The Stags have won 32 of those games, to Rovers’ 20 triumphs.
Rovers have eight wins from 35 visits to Field Mill with the last coming in the EFL Trophy in 2016 when Alfie Beestin and Riccardo Calder netted in a 2-0 triumph.