The Cobblers travel to Field Mill to take on a Mansfield side still hot on our heels…
It’s time for a six pointer! Mansfield’s draw at Hartlepool in midweek means that the clash between us on Saturday becomes a literal six pointer rather than one that I make up for dramatic effect. Win and the Cobblers will have a six point (there it is!) buffer over the Stags and suddenly the two games left in hand that Mansfield have over us become pressure cooker games for them. Lose and they’ll be level on points with those two extra games then almost certainly leading to them overtaking us in the race for the top three.
Mansfield are all set for a bumper weekend attendance and the appetite will be there for a big result from the home fans. The Stags haven’t played a game at Field Mill for almost a month so not only will there be a big crowd but that crowd will be mostly made up of fans starved of action in recent weeks.
For the Cobblers, this is a potential season definer and the toughest game left in our season, on paper at least. We need to stand up and be counted and the travelling contingent has to be on good form from the off. Based on the fantastic support we’ve had away from home all season that shouldn’t be a problem so this one should be everything you want in a promotion battle – loud, tense and passionate.
I think we’ve said that a few times about a Mansfield away game…
It’s been a season of three parts for Mansfield this season with the period up to and including their trip to Sixfields in October forming a near disastrous start to the campaign. Our 2-0 victory left the Stags in 22nd in the table and with eyes only for staying up in the Football League.
The second part, however, saw them turn the form around in stunning fashion. The board kept faith with Nigel Clough and he led them to a run of fourteen games unbeaten as well as to the FA Cup Third Round thanks to superb victories over Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers before bowing out valiantly to Middlesbrough.
The final act, then, has become an unexpected finale that has them right in the thick of the promotion battle. With those hames in hand on the Cobblers and others above them, there could be the reward of League One football at the end of this dramatic tale.
Last time out
One to watch
Well rested from just a substitute appearance on Tuesday night, Rhys Oates has netted eleven times for the Stags so far with his pace and power a real threat. Then there’s the rejuvenated and reinvented John-Joe O’Toole, of course!
Mansfield rested a couple of key players from the start on Tuesday night both both Rhys Oates and Matty Longstaff are expected to start on Saturday. Jamie Murphy picked up a hamstring injury in midweek and misses out.
The Cobblers are still without Tyler Magloire who is back at Blackburn to get treatment on his dislocated shoulder and Ali Koiki is still missing. Josh Eppiah and Chanka Zimba both came off the bench to play their part in the Hartlepool win and both could be pushing for a start.
A long range effort from Aaron McGowan gave the Cobblers the lead back in October at Sixfields and Fraser Horsfall sealed the points with fifteen minutes to go.
Line-up Prediction – Powered by FanHub
Anthony Backhouse takes charge of this one having last officiated the Cobblers back in September for the 2-2 draw with Salford. Paul Stonier and Ian Smedley are running the lines and Steven Plane is fourth official.
Charles: Mansfield 0-1 Cobblers
Danny: Mansfield 2-2 Cobblers
Neil: Mansfield 9-9 Cobblers
Jefe: Mansfield 3-1 Cobblers
We were joined this week by Craig and Clive from the Mansfield Matters podcast as we looked ahead to the weekend’s game:
Danny joined It’s All Cobblers To Me at the very beginning. While at university he’s written a regular blog about the Cobblers and the transition to podcasting was an obvious one to take.
A Cobblers fan all his life, Danny is the most optimistic of us on the podcast. His love of Sam Hoskins is undeniable and rumours of keeping Keith Curle locked up in his basement are unfounded.