After having played five consecutive away games in three different competitions within the last month, the Stags finally are at headquarters again. This time, the Stags face one of the surprise packets in League Two so far, Cheltenham Town.
The Robins sit currently in fifth position, having scored in every home League Two fixture so far, but their away fixtures have been more goal-shy with four draws, three of them goal-less ones.
The most recent clashes between the sides have been dramatic ones and produced quite a few goals as well. The proof: the fixtures between the sides in the last two EFL campaigns have seen eighteen goals, nine apiece for the Stags and the Robins. The fixture between the sides in January 2018 at One Call Stadium was one of the most dramatic ones ever played. That game had everything: 20 minutes of injury-time in total, three red cards, a Cheltenham penalty, a manager sent to the stands, and finally a 95th minute Stags winner scored by CJ Hamilton to a 3-2 scoreline after that the Stags had been behind twice. Last season’s fixture at Whaddon Road also had drama in it when Tyler Walker struck in the third minute of stoppage time to gain a 2-2 draw.
That club made their league debut way back in 1999-2000, and their first-ever FL victory was at Mansfield to the only goal of the game in August 1999. In between, they were outside League Two for one season only a few seasons ago, and when Cheltenham returned in 2016, their first away fixture was against the Stags, a fixture which ended in a 1-1 draw.
No other club in League history has played their first-ever away league game and their first away league comeback fixture at Mansfield.
In between, there has been quite a few memorable games between the sides. Maybe the biggest one was way back late in in the 2001-02, when both sides were chasing automatic promotion vying for the third automatic spot behind Plymouth and Luton. On April 9, 2002, officially over 8000 watched the Stags gain a precious 2-1 victory at Field Mill. More on that game /and a few more/ in the Match Centre for the corresponding season.
Before the game at Mansfield in August 2016, the previewer wrote:
“History repeats itself. The proof: When Cheltenham made their debut in the current League Two during the 1999-2000 campaign, their first-ever FL away fixture was against the Stags. On August 14, 1999, Cheltenham won thanks to a Neil Grayson strike midway through the second half, and Grayson also netted the only goal of the game when the Stags travelled to Cheltenham later that season for the very first time.
In the 2016-17 season, Cheltenham returned to League Two following a one-season-absense, and their first away fixture was, just like in their FL debut campaign, at Mansfield. And this was almost exactly seventeen years on nearly exactly to the day from the Robins’ first-ever away FL fixture.
And one player who starred for the Stags in both fixtures against Cheltenham in the 1999-2000 campaign, was later to play for Cheltenham and he did so against the Stags in probably the most memorable of all FL fixtures between the sides. Easy to pick which one. It was on April 9, 2002, with both sides chasing promotion from the old Division Two at Field Mill. The name: Lee Williams”.
One game between the sides, a Stags 4-0 victory on October 25, 2003, was seen by the previewer. More on that fixture as well is to be seen in the Match Centre.
The sides faced each other very frequently in the first part of Cheltenham's FL history. Fact is that the Stags and the Cheltenham Robins faced each other in each of Cheltenham's first seven FL campaigns, starting in August 1999, and the Robins in fact registered their first-ever league win by scoring the only goal of the game (scorer: Grayson) at Field Mill on August 14, 1999 when the Stags made a very poor start of a topsy-turvy 1999-2000 season. Lee Williams, later to play for Cheltenham, appeared for the Stags in that fixture and no Stags player appearing then was around when the sides clashed in Mansfield on the final day of the 2005-06 campaign. Then, Cheltenham won 5-0 at Field Mill, and a few weeks later, the Robins were promoted to League One for the second time via the playoffs after beating Grimsby, the side which followed Cheltenham back into the FL last season after beating Forest Green in the playoff final.
Following the 5-0 win at Mansfield on May 6, 2006, and the subsequent playoff final victory, Cheltenham played three seasons in League One and among their oppenents were sides like Bristol City, Swansea, Leeds and the 2015-16 PL winners, Leicester as well as the 2017 playoff winners for PL promotion, Huddersfield Town. Among Cheltenham’s finest League One moments were taking six points off Swansea and four off Bristol City in 2006-07, and in the 2007-08 campaign, the Robins took six points off Leeds, 1-0 at home and 2-1 away. In 2008-09, Cheltenham played Leicester, who won both fixtures to a 4-0 scoreline.
The sides have yet to play a goal-less fixture at Mansfield.
21 points after 19 games are the lowest Stags points total since the EFL comeback campaign in 2013-14 when the Stags also had 21 points after 19 fixtures. The following season, the Stags had reached 22 points after 19 games. And the following game then was in fact a home fixture against Cheltenham. About time for the Stags to get this season back on track as the current record is below expectations.
One former Stags player, James Jennings, played for Cheltenham in their FL comeback fixture against Leyton Orient on the opening day of the 2016-17 season, while one of the Stags’ recruits a few seasons ago, Ashley Hemmings, made his FL debut for Cheltenham on loan from Wolves in a 1-3 home League One defeat against Millwall on February 24, 2009. Last season, Johnny Mullins and Chris Clements played for Cheltenham while Clements have played a dozen games for Cheltenham this season, five of those from the bench..
Matt Green played nineteen games for Cheltenham without scoring before his first spell at the Stags on loan from Oxford, for which he played against Cheltenham in a League Two fixture on September 2010. His final Cheltenham game was in fact Stockport’s so far last one as a FL club, a 1-1 draw at Edgeley Park on the same day the Stags played the FA Trophy final against Darlington at Wembley on May 7, 2011.
Played for both sides (since Cheltenham were promoted to the Football League): Danny Andrew, Craig Armstrong, Rakish Bingham, Paul Black, Daryl Clare, Chris Clements, Paul Connor, Craig Dobson, Matt Green, Ashley Hemmings, James Jennings, Carl Muggleton, Johnny Mullins, Martin Riley, Omari Sterling-James, Richard Walker, Jason White (forward!), Lee Williams. Barry Richardson, a former Stags goalie, was on Cheltenham’s books in 2009-10 without playing.
Prior to Cheltenham's promotion to the FL in 1999, the following players have been traced, courtesy of the centenary book and the history CD: Andy Beasley, George Blackburn, Roddy Collins (later Carlisle manager!), Melvyn Eves, Glyn Jones, Roger McDonald, Christopher Ogden, George Simpson, Alexander Sykes.
Home: P 12, W 5, D 2, L 5, GF 18, GA 20
Away: P 12, W 3, D 4, L 5, GF 15, GA 21
Season Home Date Away Date
1999-00 0-1 1999-08-14 0-1 2000-01-15 Div 3
2000-01 2-1 2001-02-13 2-2 2000-08-12 Div 3
2001-02 2-1 2002-04-09 3-2 2001-08-25 Div 3
2002-03 0-2 2002-09-21 1-3 2003-03-08 Div 2
2003-04 4-0 2003-10-25 2-4 2004-02-28 Div 3
2004-05 1-2 2005-02-12 0-2 2004-10-19 League Two
2005-06 0-5 2006-05-06 2-0 2005-10-29 League Two
2013-14 0-2 2014-04-21 2-1 2013-12-29 League Two
2014-15 1-1 2014-12-13 1-1 2015-03-07 League Two
2016-17 1-1 2016-08-13 0-0 2017-03-04 League Two
2017-18 3-2 2018-01-20 0-3 2017-09-26 League Two
2018-19 4-2 2019-02-03 2-2 2018-11-03 League Two
Come on Mansfield!