We take a look at League 2 newboys Mansfield Town
Mansfield Town are back in the Football League after five seasons away. What can we expect to see from the newly crowned Blue Square Premier Champions? To find out when we will be playing Paul Cox's side remember to visit the official website on 19th June.
Mansfield Town were promoted to Division 2 in 2001/02. However, they were relegated after only a single season in the third tier of English football. 2003/04 saw the club reach the play-offs before suffering defeat to Huddersfield Town in the semi-finals. 2007/08 saw Mansfield’s 77-year stay in the Football League come to an end as the Stags were relegated to the Conference. The club have been in the Blue Square Premier ever since, a highlight, however, was reaching the 2010/11 FA Trophy Final at Wembley before losing 1-0 to Darlington.
Paul Cox has been Mansfield Town manager since 2011, taking over from Duncan Russell. Cox had previously been boss at neighbours, Eastwood Town from 2005 to 2011. Cox had won the Nottinghamshire Senior Cup every season he was in charge of Eastwood prior to taking the role at Mansfield. As a defender, Cox played for Notts County, Kettering Town and Halifax Town. He also had a loan spell at Hull City before ending his playing days at Hucknall Town. The 41-year-old won promotion to League 2 last season.
Former Tottenham Hotspur trainee Alan Marriott is likely to be the club’s number one in 2013/14. The 34-year-old has previously played for Lincoln City and Rushden & Diamonds. In April 2012, Marriott scored from his own penalty area against Wrexham. In defence, experienced campaigner Lee Beevers should take his place at centre back with former Crawley Town and Oxford United player John Dempster. New signings John McCombe and Martin Riley are other options for Paul Cox whilst James Jennings should slot into left back. Midfield will see the experienced captain Adam Murray take his place in the centre with Lindon Meikle, Colin Daniel and Louis Briscoe as other choices for Cox. Up front, ex-Bradford City and Port Vale man Jake Speight is full of running and will always pop up with a goal.
If Paul Cox can hang onto star striker Matt Green, it will be a great help to Mansfield’s ambitions in 2013/14. The former Oxford United and Torquay United player scored 27 goals in all competitions for the Stags last season but is out of contract at Field Mill this summer. Birmingham City have been linked with a move for the 26-year-old but Cox will want to persuade the forward that his future lies at Mansfield.
2012/13 was a memorable season for the Stags. Not only did the club win the Blue Square Premier title, they also embarked on a brilliant FA Cup run that came to an end against Liverpool. The highlights of the season included an 8-1 thrashing of Barrow and a 5-0 win against Dartford. Paul Cox’s side won 30 of the 46 league games, earning the status as “Champions” by finishing two points ahead of second placed Kidderminster Harriers.
Paul Cox has moved quickly to snap up players for their League 2 season. Paul Black has been brought in after his release from Oldham Athletic. Elsewhere, Jamie McGuire has joined from Fleetwood Town, the experienced John McCombe from Port Vale and Martin Riley, who signed on a free transfer from Wrexham. Keiran Murtagh has joined the club from Macclesfield Town.
BLUES vs. MANSFIELD TOWN:
The last time the two sides met was in 2004/05 in League 2.
Home: Blues 0-1 Mansfield Town
Paul Warne scored the only goal of the game at Roots Hall, netting in the 80th minute.
Blues: Griemink, Edwards, Wilsono, Barrett, Hunt, Pettefer, Maher, Bentley, Gray, Bramble (Dudfield, 77), Eastwood
Unused: Flahavan, Prior, Nicolau, Corbett
Away: Mansfield Town 1-1 Blues
Mark Gower scored a 59th minute equaliser for Blues as the game at Field Mill ended all square. Adam Murray had given the home side the lead five minutes prior to Gower’s goal.
Blues: Flahavan, Prior, Wilson, Barrett, Hunt, Pettefer, Maher, Gower (Gray, 75), Nicolau, Dudfield, Eastwood (Bramble, 75)
Unused: Holloway, Jupp, Kightly
Mansfield Town are 7/1 to win promotion this coming season.