Mansfield Town meeting the opposition.

Mansfield Town meeting the opposition.

Micky Mellon’s Tranmere are back in action on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Nottinghamshire where they will come up against Nigel Clough’s Mansfield.

Both side’s started the season with a defeat, thus they will both be desperate to win at least one of their first two games of the League Two season.

Rovers came up short against Stevenage, a Kane Hemmings second half strike not enough to salvage a point as Steve Evans’ side regained their lead late into the 90. Mansfield lost against Salford, at the Peninsula Stadium.

The big talking point for the travelling Super Whites will be whether they can get some luck with a back three that doesn’t include Tom Davies or new signing Jordan Turnbull. Mansfield Musings gave their thoughts on all things Stags.

Last season, Mansfield were defeated in the League Two Play-Off Final by Darrell Clarke’s Port Vale. How do you reflect on the 2021-22 campaign as a whole? 

A rollercoaster ride, a winless run of twelve games, a record breaking run of straight home wins, more than two points per game for 2/3rds of the season. Clough aimed for the top seven and delivered, despite falling at the final hurdle. We’re aiming for the automatic positions this time around, despite a losing start.

This summer, Nigel Clough has added two players on a free permanent basis in Hiram Boateng and Scott Flinders. Are you happy with the business that the Stags have done so far? Would you say that there are still some more positions to strengthen? If so, what positions would they be? 

Boateng and Christy Pym, our new first choice keeper, are an upgrade on last season. Riley Harbottle, a centre back on loan from Forest has looked good in preseason but is playing his first bit of EFL football. We need reinforcements in attacking areas for me, a bit of trickery or pace wouldn’t go amiss. In an ideal world you would probably like to see an experienced centre back too.

Clough was appointed manager two years ago. Is the future bright with him at the helm? What is his playing style? 

He has pretty much the universal trust of the fans. He has improved on the previous seasons league position in 21 out of 25 seasons he’s been a manager, so you have to trust the process, even if at times his tendency to squeeze players into the team outside of their best position can be frustrating.

Carolyn and John Radford are the club’s owners and Mansfield fans have had many positive things to say about them. What are some of the greatest things that they’ve done at the club and if you could change anything about them or what they’ve done so far, what would that be? 

They’re very generous owners that’s for sure, pumping in millions of their own money for so far very little reward on the pitch. The training ground we have is consistently labelled one of the best outside the top couple of divisions, players always rave about it when joining. They’ve already made the change I wanted to see a couple of years ago, by appointing a CEO in David Sharpe who has a background in football and can run the club on a daily basis whilst they’re out of the country.

Who would you say are your side’s key players and where will the key battles lie come Saturday afternoon at Field Mill? Touching on your side’s key players, which position do you view as a realistic goal for the Stags to finish in come next May? 

Stephen McLaughlin was last season’s player of the season, and I expect to see him in a wing back role on Saturday after he features on the left of a back three at Salford. The quality of his delivery is excellent. Rhys Oates is a constant danger with his explosive pace and power, combined with a willingness to shoot from anywhere. Hiram Boateng will look to pull the strings in midfield. As alluded to earlier, we have to ouch for the top three this season.

How do you see the upcoming game panning out? What is your score prediction? The last time the two clubs met was in mid-March, Elliott Nevitt came off the bench to score two goals that included the winner in the 95th minute. 

I believe Tranmere have a fair few injury doubts ahead of Saturday, which can’t be good after a poor start to the season last weekend. I think Mansfield will be favourites for this one and run out 2-1 winners.

If you have been keeping up with Rovers this summer, what are your thoughts on their business and how do you believe the Whites will do as they aim to play a back five with pacey full backs on a consistent basis? 

Not necessarily summer business but Kane Hemmings is as good a striker as you will get at league two level, he has goals in him and he’s a good link player as well. If we stick with our back five it will be interesting to see which team can execute it better.

Nigel Clough, son of recently promoted Nottingham Forest’s club legend Brian, has previously managed Burton Albion, Derby County and Sheffield United before being appointed Town manager in 2020. ‘He has pretty much the universal trust of the fans’. 

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