Mansfield made an awful start to the season – they managed just one win in their first 14 games, a 2-1 victory at the New Lawn! First half goals from Lapslie and Charsley were followed by an 85th minute consolation from Odin Bailey.
The appointment of Nigel Clough as manager happened just before Mansfield came to the New Lawn in November. The appointment was something of a coup for Mansfield as Clough has some pedigree (14 England caps, and over 600 appearances at the top level with 131 goals). He had also managed Derby County, Sheffield United and Burton Albion before his arrival at Mansfield.
Clough’s arrival improved Mansfield’s fortunes and they went on a 5 match winning run in January. However, the last 10 games have seen a dip, with 2 wins, 2 draws and 6 defeats. Like Rovers, Mansfield have scored more points away from home than they have at home this season, with just 20 points from their 18 home matches. They are in 16th place in the league, 11 points from the relegation places and 15 short of the play-off places. It looks like being a season of mid-table consolidation for the club.
One word of warning for Rovers – Mansfield seem to rise to the big occasion and have done well against teams ranked higher than themselves. As well as beating Rovers, Mansfield have chalked up victories against Cambridge, Salford, Morecambe & Cheltenham this season.
Rovers fans will remember a familiar figure in the Mansfield squad – Farrend Rawson. Nottingham-born Farrend joined Mansfield in July 2020 and has now made over 30 first-team appearances for the Stags.
Keep an eye out for Mansfield defender, James Perch, who signed for his home-town club in August 2020. Now 35 years old, Perch has over 80 Premier League appearances for Newcastle behind him. He has 2 goals and an assist to his name so far. Mansfield’s leading scorer is number 9 Jordan Bowery with 10 league goals this campaign.
Mansfield play at Field Mill, which lays claim to being the oldest professional football ground in the world (used for football since 1861). Mansfield didn’t start playing at Field Mill until just after the First World War when their rivals, Mansfield Mechanics, were evicted from the venue for not paying their rent.
Mansfield started life as the Mansfield Wesleyans. But when the local league they played in (the Mansfield District Amateur League) dropped the word ‘Amateur’ from their title, the Wesleyan church turned their back on the club and forbade them from using the word ‘Wesleyans’. As an act of defiance the club called themselves Mansfield Wesley in the early 1900’s. This isn’t the only brush the club had with religion at the time – in 1909 their chairman Fred Abraham and secretary James Marples resigned, later to be banned by the FA for serious irregularities. They had committed the (then) heinous crime of signing a player on the Sabbath (the day of rest).
The club, like many, has had its ups and downs. Some yo-yo’ing between the 3rd and 4th tiers of English football, a spell in the Conference (National League) between 2008 and 2013, and controversies with their owners. The club, now owned by John and Carolyn Radford, seem to be sailing in calmer waters these days.
Mansfield is a former market town in Nottinghamshire, just east of the M1. In more recent years, brewing, soft drinks and coal have dominated the town but there is little sign of any of these industries in the town now (other than the fact many Mansfield streets have suffered from mining subsidence). Rebecca Adlington, Richard Bacon, and Lib Dem leader Ed Davey all come from Mansfield.