When the Stags played Saturday’s opponents Newport County on the opening day of this season, it was the third time in nine seasons the sides had faced each other on an opening day of a league campaign. And on the opening day of this season, the Stags ran out 3-0 winners at headquarters.
It was also the second time the sides had clashed at Mansfield.
The previous time out at Mansfield, it was in the final season outside the FL. Then, six years ago, seven goals were scored with the Newport emerging as winners. Maybe that fixture was to prove a pointer in terms of hitting the net for both sides, as the Stags then went on to score 92 Conference goals, exactly two per game, and Newport went on to score on 85 occasions, thus being the two highest-scoring sides that term, with the Stags as Champions following a Matt Green penalty against Wrexham at home, and Newport a few weeks later as playoff winners thanks to two very late goals, incidentally against Wrexham.
Two of the Newport scorers on the opening day of the 2012-13 season, Aaron O’Connor and Jefferson Louis, had previously starred for the Stags, while the then Newport keeper, Lenny Pidgeley, was to play a few Stags games on loan a few seasons later. Matt Green, one of the Stags’ scorers, had played in the FA Cup for Newport during the 2006-07 season. And one of the then Newport players, David Pipe, returned to Newport before last season after Conference spells at Forest Green and Eastleigh respectively and played in both fixtures against the Stags last campaign.
And since the FL return, the Stags have won every home fixture against the Newport Exiles, last season out a 5-0 rout last February with four goals inside the first 35 minute. Little did the fans know, that this was to be the Stags' final home League Two victory last term, as the following games ended up in five 1-1 draws and two defeats, which cost the Stags big time. But the position of eighth was the Stags’ best League Two position since 2003-04.
Two seasons ago, the sides faced each other at Newport on the opening day. Then, an injury-time wonder strike by Kevan Hurst, last season at Guiseley, sealed the tie in favour of the Stags.
So far, this season has brought just three Stags League Two defeats, the lowest since the 1974-75 Division Four winning campaign, in which the Stags had just three losses after 37 games, while Newport have experienced FA Cup joy big style by dumping PL Leicester and Championship side Middlesbrough (in a home replay a few days ago) out of the FA Cup at headquarters, thus earning the right to face Manchester City at home next weekend.
Meanwhile, Newport’s league form had suffered a bit from the FA Cup exploits, winning just once and losing six of their nine latest League Two fixtures since the end of last November. Will Newport have their focus on the Stags this weekend or on the bumper FA Cup fixture against Manchester City ? Yet a stern test is awaited.
Newport pulled off a great relegation escape two seasons ago and fared much better last term, eventually ending up in 11th position, their second-best following promotion, the best being 9th in 2014-15. And the Exiles also made a very good FA Cup run last term. Beating Leeds at home in the round was rewarded with a bumper home tie against Tottenham Hotspurs. Then, Newport much more than held their own against the PL opponents, close to dumping them out. But the Spurs equalized with seven minutes left and then won the Wembley replay to a 2-0 scoreline,
And since the return to the FL, the Stags have won every home fixture against the Newport Exiles.
This is the ninth consecutive season the Stags face the current Newport side, which came into being after the older one, formed in 1912, busted in February 1989 after two consecutive seasons from then Division Three 30 years ago (when the Stags beat Newport 1-0 at home and 3-0 away) to the current National League. By the time of the old Newport club leaving that league, Newport had won four games, drawn seven, and lost eighteen, their then final game being a 2-1 defeat away to the old Maidstone club, which a few months later gained entry to the old fourth division. During the 1988-89 season, Newport faced a few current and recent League Two sides: Wycombe, Barnet and Cheltenham as well as three which later played in the League, being Macclesfield, Kidderminster and Boston.
The Stags’ very first game away to the current Newport club on September 18, 2010, saw two twin brothers in the respective dug-outs. Dave Holdsworth for the Stags, Dean for Newport. But by the time of the return fixture at Mansfield, both had left. Dave resigned, while Dean left for the current Aldershot club.
After two defeats at Newport during the Conf days, the Stags went on to winning runs. The 1-0 defeat in 2012 was followed by thirteen Stags wins, one draw and one defeat before unluckily losing the playoff semifinals against York City, who a few years ago became the first side to be relegated from League Two and Conference National in successive seasons, now very unlikely to return to the FL for quite a long time (as the Minstermen are close to the drop zone even in Conf North).
And the 2-0 defeat at Newport almost six years ago was followed by the Stags’ record 12-match winning run on the way to the title and subsequent FL return. Newport followed a few weeks later after two late goals against Wrexham in the playoff final.
While the Stags have averaged three goals per home game against the current Newport club, the goals at Newport have been fewer. Just look at the stats below.
Played for both sides: Walter Akers, Neville Chamberlain, Roddy Collins, Fred Flanders, Dai Jones, Kevin Kent, Terence Melling, John Moore, Tommy Pritchard, Mick Vinter, Alan Waddle. Current Newport side: Jon Challinor, Adam Chapman, Rob Duffy, Matt Green, Jefferson Louis, Tom Naylor, Aaron O'Connor, Lenny Pidgeley, Mitchell Rose, Glyn Thompson.
Home:P 9, W 6, D 2, L 1, GF 14, GA 7
Away:P 9, W 3, D 2, L 4, GF 7, GA 7
Home games Away games
1937-38 1-1 1937-12-04 0-1 1938-04-16 Division 3 (S)
1938-39 0-2 1939-11-01 0-0 1939-04-01 Division 3 (S)
1958-59 2-1 1959-01-31 0-1 1958-09-13 Division 3 (old)
1959-60 3-1 1959-11-21 1-0 1960-04-09 Division 3 (old)
1962-63 2-1 1963-04-20 1-1 1962-12-01 Division 4 (old)
1972-73 0-0 1973-03-26 1-0 1972-09-02 Division 4 (old)
1973-74 2-1 1974-02-24 0-2 1973-10-09Division 4 (old)
1974-75 3-0 1974-12-28 1-2 1975-03-31Division 4 (old)
1986-87 1-0 1986-11-25 3-0 1987-03-17Division 3 (old)
1964-65 0-3 1964-12-05 2nd round at Somerton Park, Newport
All stats above are regarding the old Newport club.
Current Newport club:
Home:P 9, W 7, D 1, L 1, GF 27, GA 9
Away:P 8, W 2, D 2, L 4, GF 6, GA 9
2010-11 3-3 2011-02-12 0-1 2010-09-18 BSP
2011-12 5-0 2011-09-10 0-1 2012-02-18 BSP
2012-13 3-4 2012-08-11 0-2 2013-02-12 BSP
2013-14 2-1 2014-03-08 1-1 2013-09-07 League Two
2014-15 1-0 2014-08-19 1-0 2015-03-03 League Two
2015-16 3-0 2015-10-03 0-1 2016-03-05 League Two
2016-17 2-1 2017-02-25 3-2 2016-08-06 League Two
2017-18 5-0 2018-02-13 1-1 2017-10-21 League Two
2018-19 3-0 2018-08-04 (at Mansfield) League Two
2010-11 4-2 2011-01-15 2nd round at Field Mill
Expect a tight game this weekend. Come on Mansfield!