Mansfield Town FC meeting the opposition.

Mansfield Town FC meeting the opposition. 

On Saturday afternoon, Nigel Clough’s Mansfield Town travel to Prenton Park to face Tranmere Rovers. 

Rovers have greatly struggled to build any consistency this campaign however one shining light has been their home form, with wins against Leyton Orient and play-off chasers Salford City in the past month. 

The Stags are unbeaten in their last five, with a 4-0 away win against Carlisle United on Tuesday night thus they will be in high spirits going into this one. 

Ahead of the game, I spoke to Town supporter Sam Binch. 

After finishing 7th in League Two last season, Mansfield Town are currently placed sixth. How would you describe the campaign so far? 

Been a bit of a strange one as for most of it we’ve been inconsistent but still found ourselves in the play-off mix. A bit below where we want to be but we’re in some of our best form of the season ahead of this game.

Do you believe that the team is looking much better this season? If so, why? 

No, for the most part I would say we haven’t hit the heights of last season as of yet in terms or performance levels, but the results are starting to come.

In the January window, four players were brought in including attacking midfielder Davis Keillor-Dunn from Burton Albion. Were the issues that needed to be addressed focused on? 

A lot of them were addressed. We needed a dominant, natural centre back and Alfie Kilgour fits that bill, he’s also scored 3 in 4! Callum Johnson looked impressive at wing back, very solid and a threat going forward. Louis Reed added bite to the midfield and experience at a higher level, and Keillor-Dunn has added guile to the attack, his first touch is excellent and allows us to get up the pitch. Unfortunately Johnson and Reed are now injured. The only position we’re lacking a natural replacement for is left back/wing back. 

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough, what are your thoughts on him? His playing style and his relationship with fans? 

Some of his decision making and tactical decisions are frustrating at times but he has improved the team incrementally each season so far and will be looking to do the same again this season. I think he’s proved he can produce a team that can be in and around the top seven but it’s yet to be seen if they can go that extra step.

Carolyn and John Radford are the Owners, thoughts on them and their relationship with fans? Are there any current great plans in place? 

Nobody can question their generosity in terms of finances, they generally provide all a manager could want. Their managerial appointments/sackings over the years can be questioned but it will be a very sad day if they ever decided to step away.

Will Swan is top scorer with nine goals in 26 games, George Lapslie is another player worth keeping an eye on as the 25-year-old has six goals and five assists in 28 games. How would you describe their playing styles? 

George Lapslie has moved to Gillingham in the transfer window. Will Swan has been relegated to impact sun as of late, with the preferred partnership being Akins and Keillor-Dunn. Akins is the hold up man and when his touch is good it’s a role he excels in. Keillor-Dunn buzzes around and gets involved in the build up.

Where will the key battles be played out on Saturday? 

Whoever continues to fill in at left wing back, probably Wallace or Bowery, will need to perform again out of position.

Score prediction? The last game between Tranmere and Mansfield resulted in a 1-0 victory for The Stags, Riley Harbottle netting on the hour mark. 

I can see a draw, 1-1.

Thoughts on Micky Mellon’s Rovers? Would you say a Play-off spot for May is a realistic ambition? 

I think they’ll end up mid table, there seems to be a weird vibe around the club at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much ambition for the club to push on.

Tranmere are unbeaten in their last five home games and a win this weekend may take them up to tenth in the League Two table. 

It is their away form that will need to change if they are to mount a serious play-off push. 

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