Swindon lock horns with Mansfield Town this Friday as both sides kick-off the Easter Weekend in another big League Two clash.
The Robins netted five in the reverse back in October and will be looking for more of the same in a bid to end a run of six without a win.
Here’s the lowdown on The Stags as we build up to the game.
The visitors arrive in Wiltshire with everything still to play for, finding themselves two points off the play-off places with a game in hand.
The Stags have a rich history as a football club.
Founded in 1897 under their original name of Mansfield Wesleyans due to the local church in the area, the club initially played friendlies until 1902, when they joined the Mansfield and District Amateur League.
They shared a rivalry with local club Mansfield Mechanics, and the latter weren’t happy when Wesleyans changed their name to Mansfield Town in 1910, despite losing to them in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup that season.
It wasn’t until 1931 that Mansfield entered the Football League, initially joining theSouthern Section of the Third Division, where they struggled with the transition, regularly placing in the bottom half despite fielding some standout players during that period, including Ted Harston, who scored 55 goals in one season before joining Liverpool.
The club yo-yoed in the lower echelons of the leagues, punctuated by reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup in the 1950/51 season, where they also became the first Football League side to go 23 games unbeaten at home, although they narrowly missed out on promotion.
The Stags were relegated to the Fourth Division in 1960 before returning to the Third again in 1963.
This promotion left a sour taste though, as players Brian Phillips and Sammy Chapman were later given lifetime bans for bribing their opponents on route to climbing the league.
One of the brightest moments in Mansfield’s history was their 1987 Football League Trophy win, which came in a penalty shootout win against Bristol City.
Under the controversial ownership of Keith Haslam, Mansfield were relegated to the Conference in 2008, and it wasn’t until 2013 they were able to earn their place back inthe Football League, clinching the Conference Premier title against Wrexham.
During their conference years, the club enjoyed an FA Trophy final appearance, losing out to a 120th minute goal fromDarlington at Wembley.
Current owner John Radford bought the club in April 2010, and later the ground from Haslam in 2012.
In recent years, Mansfield have seen their fortunes improve on the pitch as well with Nigel Clough at the helm since 2020, and after last year’s play-off final heartache, he has led the club back into the top half once again this season.
Their season so far…
Mansfield have been there or thereabouts in the play-off mix for most of the current campaign, sitting in sixth after 10 games, seventh after 20 and currently occupy eighth.
As a result, Nigel Clough’s men head into Friday’s showdown with everything to play for as they seek to regain their place in the play-offs.
They are currently only two points behind seventh-placed Salford City with a game in hand.
With one eye on the automatic places still, today’s clash is anything but a dead rubber as we head into the tail-end of the season.
The Stags have been in mixed form recently however, with a run of one win and threedraws in the last five league fixtures, form which has seen them pick up just six points.
The win, however, came in their last outing against a resurgent Crawley, who they beat 4-1 at the One Call Stadium.
Last time out…
Swindon put in arguably their best performance of the season the last time they played Mansfield, clinching a 5-2 away win over The Stags in an action-packed encounterback in October.
After former Town loanee Kellan Gordon opened the scoring in the first minute, The Robins equalised through Jonny Williams before being pegged back again.
They levelled once again and went one in front before Hiram Boateng was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Ben Gladwin added insult to injury from the penalty spot with five left on the clock after Luke Jephcott and Ronan Darcy’s stunner prior in what proved a rollercoaster of an afternoon in Nottinghamshire.
Swindon hold a decent record against today’s visitors, winning three of the last five outings against The Stags, including October’s impressive victory, losing only one of those and drawing the other.
18/19: Mansfield Town 0 – 0 Swindon Town D
18/19: Swindon Town 1 – 0 Mansfield Town W
21/22: Swindon Town 1 – 0 Mansfield Town W
21/22: Mansfield Town 3 – 2 Swindon Town L
22/23: Mansfield Town 2 – 5 Swindon Town W
The Manager: Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough is a manager who needs no introduction to fans in the football world.
The son of the iconic Brian Clough, he’s been able to step out of his father’s shadow with a solid record in management across the Football League.
Clough first made his name as a player for his father’s former club Nottingham Forest, where he established himself as a potent goal scorer with 101 strikes in 311 appearances.
He also turned out for Liverpool, Manchester City and Sheffield Wednesday before finishing his playing career at Burton Albion in 2008.
In that time, Clough also clocked up 15 caps for England, but failed to open his account during any of those appearances.
Nigel really made his name in management though, firstly transitioning as a player-manager at Burton before making the full switch.
He won the Conference Premier Manager of the Month award back in December 2008, after guiding Albion 13-points clear of the chasing pack before January.
He was then approached by Derby County to take over as manager, and also enjoyed spells at Sheffield United before returning to Burton.
The took the Mansfield hotseat back in November 2020, steadying the ship in his first season and narrowly avoiding relegation with a 21st place finish, before transforming the clubs fortunes last term, culminating in a play-off final defeat to Port Vale in what was only their second appearance at that stage of the competition.
Players to watch…
The experienced defender/midfielder may be 37-years old, but don’t let that fool you.
He’s racked up 36 appearances this season for The Stags and remains a key component in their starting eleven.
Perch is a veteran of the Football League, amassing over 500 career league appearances for clubs including Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United, Wigan Athletic and Queens Park Rangers.
He’s been at Mansfield since 2020, and his experience is proving to be key in their promotion push this term.
The midfielder joined Nigel Clough’s side in January and made a great start to life in Nottinghamshire.
Since signing, the 25-year-old has bagged five goals in 11 matches.
With Mansfield experiencing a similar injury-crisis to Swindon in recent weeks with key attacking players like Will Swann ruled out, Keillor-Dunn will need to continue in the same vein for the rest of the season.
With two goals in his last outing in the 4-1 win over Crawley, the Town defence will need to make sure they keep the in-form striker at bay.
Danny Johnson started the season on loan at Walsall where the Miiddlesbrough-born forward returned 12 goals in 22 matches.
With The Stags facing an injury crisis with limited striking options, it was inevitable the 30-year-old would be recalled in January.
While his form may have dipped since his return, with just the one goal in sevenappearances, Johnson is still key to Mansfield’s promotion hopes and Swindon will also need to be wary of his ability in front of goal.