Following the postponement of the February 29 home fixture against Swindon (now rearranged for March 31), the Stags will be on the road this weekend. And it will be a relatively short trip to Cobblers Country, or more in detail to Northampton Town and Sixfields.
There, the sides drew 1-1 almost a year ago in front of loads of Stags fans, and in preview history, the Stags have taken at least 600 fans to Sixfields each time, excluding a game in current League One on September 28, 2002.
Over 1400 last season, and nearly 1200 in a 3-0 rout on November 29, 2003. At that time, the Cobblers were far away from the playoff zone, but reached that on the final day of that season by recording a rare victory at One Call, only the third of all time in League fixtures dating back to the Stags’ inaugural League campaign way back in 1931-32.
So far this season, Northampton have conceded just twelve goals at home, the lowest in League Two, but some of these goals have accounted for five home defeats, among them against sides like Leyton Orient, Walsall and crisis-ridden Macclesfield.
But last time out, the Cobblers won 3-0 at Grimsby Town. And just before last Christmas, the sides drew 1-1 at One Call Stadium.
Last season, the Cobblers were routed to a heavy 4-0 scoreline at One Call. That heavy reverse had consequenses as the Cobblers axed their manager Dean Austin with immediate effect after the rout. He was replaced by Keith Curle, who now manages against the Stags for the sixth consecutive season, after four at Carlisle, incidentally starting at Mansfield in September 2014. But Curle is not the first ex-Stags boss to manage Northampton against the Stags in preview history. Previous ones are Colin Calderwood, Adrian Boothroyd and the late Andy King, the first two also former Stags players.
Here are some memorable Stags v Cobblers games:
* November 19, 1938. The Stags scored one-third of all their away League goals in the 1938-39 season by recording the first-ever away win in Cobblers Country to the tune of 4-3 and three strikes from Somerfield and one from Dutton in front of 8,774
* April 29, 1961. The Stags needed to win to have the chance to avoid re-election against an already promoted Northampton side that went on to play their only season at the highest level in 1965-66, then to be the first side to slide back to the basement at the end of the Stags great FA Cup season in 1968-69. The Stags won 4-2 in front of 4872, Ken Wagstaff netting twice, Delapenha and Jones one apiece.
* May 7, 1977. The Stags last home game and the last one overall for the Cobblers. The Stags had already secured promotion and the Cobblers needed to smash the Stags unbeaten home record to have any chance to stay up and needing Reading and Portsmouth to drop points in their remaining fixtures. None of the Cobblers’ wishes came true as the Stags attended by 11,314 comfortably stuffed Northampton 3-0 due to goals from Bird, Moss and McEwan.
* April 24, 1990. Mansfield were seeking revenge for their only second home defeat against the Cobblers and gained a very vital win to secure their division 3 status and condemning the Cobblers to relegation due to goals from Trevor Christie and Mark Kearney in front of a paltry 2119 crowd.
* The 2-1 victory at County Ground on November 5, 1991 was the last in a sequence of seven consecutive away wins, the run starting at Chesterfield of all venues on August 31. 2181 at County Ground on Guy Fawkes’ day 1991 witnessed an Angus og and Greg Fee strike for the Stags, while Adcock netted for the Cobblers that night.
And the Stags’ latest FL victory at Northampton was a convincing one, a 3-0 rout on November 29, 2003. More on that game in the match centre. Then, the Cobblers were closer to the drop zone than the playoff one under then manager Colin Calderwood.
The teams faced each other in the final league game at Field Mill in each of the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. And immediately after the 2003-04 final league game, the teams faced each other again in the playoff semi-finals. First, the Stags won 2-0 at Sixfields, when the Mendes goal halfway through the second half finally put the game beyond the Cobblers’ reach and Northampton then had to score first in the return if they were to get back in the Cardiff reckoning. They did so and were even 3-0 up at one stags before Curtis pulled one back for the Stags.
As the away-goals ruling did not count in the playoffs (and sadly still doesn’), the tie in front of a bumper 9243 crowd went into extra time, and then penalties! From the spot, the Stags converted all five while Pilkington saved Northampton’s fourth, a well-taken Sabin one to pull the Stags through to the playoffs finals. It was one of the previewer’s longest nights as a Stags fan! It was a historical play offs drama, to say the least. And this meant that the Stags have gone through in ALL games bar one, an FA Cup 1st round game at Northampton in 1946-47, at knockout stages against the Cobblers!
Only on three occasions have Northampton won a League fixture at Mansfield, the first one in the 1968-69 campaign. But the Cobblers lost eleven consecutive league fixtures at Field Mill, as One Call Stadium was called then to a scoreline of 26 for, just 3 against, from the opening day of the 1972-73 Division Four season up to the opening day of the 1988-89 campaign when the Cobblers managed a 1-1 draw.
During the last half-century, the sides have played each other quite frequently at current League One and League Two level. Since becoming the first club to rise from current League Two level to the highest one and back to the basement within just eight years, the Cobblers have never managed more than three consecutive seasons at current League One level. Since 1969, the Cobblers have been relegated from current League One on no fewer than six occasions (1977, 1990, 1999, 2003, 2009 and in 2018) while Northampton have been promoted on a few occasions as well, including scoring 103 in 1986-87.
Another interesting fact is that both clubs have had a Dave Smith as manager, the Stags between 1974 and 1976, while the Cobblers had a Dave Smith in the hot seat between 1954 and 1959. Current Burnley manager, Sean Dyche, played for the Cobblers in both fixtures against the Stags during the 2005-06 campaign.
And even some persons highly involved in the first-ever promotion for Östersunds FK into the Swedish equivalent to the PL a few seasons ago, have Northampton connections as players. Manager Graham Potter (now at Brighton) as well as the players Ryan Gilligan and Alex Dyer. Incidentally, Östersund were at one time denied the license for playing Swedish Allsvenskan football for 2020, but they were re-instated on appeal. Reason is financial problems, but the previewer cannot see a Swedish equivalent to Bury up in Jämtland, where Östersund is geographically situated.
Yet another interesting fact is that Northampton, since the inauguration of the current League Two way back in 1958-59, have played EVERY side which have featured in the FL including Premier League since then, i.e. the old Accrington club in 1960-61, Gateshead before they were voted out in favour of Peterborough, Bradford Park Avenue, Barrow and Southport in their final FL seasons, the current Aldershot club a few years back as well as having had trips to Anfield, Goodison Park and Stamford Bridge in the Cobblers’ solitary season at the highest level half a century ago, in 1965-66. The Cobblers had yet by the time of previewing last season’s fixture at Mansfield to play Forest Green, but have done so now. And the Cobblers have also faced the newest EFL club, Salford City, at Sixfields this season.
Several players have appeared for the Stags and the Cobblers over the years. To name a few: Derek Asamoah, Lee Collins, Dave Syrett.
Current Cobblers side include Paul Anderson and Vadaine Oliver, while the promotion side of 2015-16 fielded Joel Byrom and Zander Diamond.
Played for both sides: Blair Adams, Daniel Alfei, Paul Anderson, Charles Anthoney, Dave Artell, Derek Asamoah, Matty Blair, Kim Book, Alfred Brown, Joel Byrom, Daryl Clare, Peter Clark, Lee Collins, Giles Coke, Zander Diamond, Efon Elad, Timi Elšnik, John Fairbrother, Greg Fee, Fred Ferrari, Jamie Hand, Kevin Hitchcock, Thomas Knox, Pat Kruse, Colin Larkin, Jason Lee, David Logan, David Lyon, Paul Matthews, Jim McCaffrey, Edwin McLachlan, Junior Mendes, Louis Moult, Vadaine Oliver, Dean Peer, Ian Phillips, Alfie Potter, Ricky Ravenhill, Barry Richardson, Gary Saxby, Ben Sedgemore, Emile Sinclair, Adam Smith, Phil Stant, Dave Syrett, Greg Taylor (one League Cup game for Northampton as trainee in 2008), Glyn Thompson, Clive Walker, Keith Welch, Jason White (not the goalkeeper), Lee Williamson, Benjamin Wonnacott, Nick Wright.
Home stats: P 35, W 24, D 8, L 3, GF 69, GA 25
Away stats: P 34, W 9, D 6, L 19, GF 29, GA 50
Season Home Date Away Date
1931-32 2-0 1931-10-24 0-3 1932-03-05 Div 3 (S)
1937-38 4-1 1937-08-28 0-3 1938-01-01 Div 3 (S)
1938-39 1-1 1939-03-25 4-3 1938-11-19 Div 3 (S)
1946-47 3-2 1947-04-05 0-3 1947-01-23 Div 3 (S)
1960-61 4-2 1961-04-29 0-1 1960-12-10 Div 4 (old)
1967-68 3-2 1967-09-25 1-1 1967-09-05 Div 3 (old)
1968-69 0-2 1968-11-09 0-0 1969-01-18 Div 3 (old)
1972-73 1-0 1972-08-12 0-1 1973-02-17 Div 4 (old)
1973-74 2-0 1973-09-01 0-2 1974-01-01 Div 4 (old)
1974-75 3-0 1974-10-28 2-0 1975-03-25 Div 4 (old)
1976-77 3-0 1977-05-07 1-0 1977-03-08 Div 3 (old)
1980-81 2-0 1980-10-27 1-0 1981-01-10 Div 4 (old)
1981-82 4-1 1981-09-21 1-1 1982-02-09 Div 4 (old)
1982-83 2-0 1982-12-28 2-1 1983-04-02 Div 4 (old)
1983-84 3-1 1984-05-12 1-2 1983-12-18 Div 4 (old)
1984-85 2-0 1984-12-22 0-1 1985-04-30 Div 4 (old)
1985-86 1-0 1986-01-11 0-1 1985-08-31 Div 4 (old)
1987-88 3-1 1987-10-20 0-2 1988-04-10 Div 3 (old)
1988-89 1-1 1988-08-27 1-2 1989-03-18 Div 3 (old)
1989-90 1-2 1989-12-30 2-1 1990-04-24 Div 3 (old)
1991-92 2-0 1992-03-10 2-1 1991-11-05 Div 4 (old)
1993-94 1-0 1993-12-11 1-5 1993-10-12 Div 3
1994-95 1-1 1994-09-17 1-0 1994-11-10 Div 3
1995-96 0-0 1996-02-03 3-3 1995-08-26 Div 3
1996-97 1-0 1997-03-22 0-3 1996-08-24 Div 3
1999-00 0-0 1999-10-19 0-1 2000-04-29 Div 3
2002-03 2-1 2003-05-03 0-2 2002-09-28 Div 2
2003-04 1-2 2004-05-08 3-0 2003-11-29 Div 3
2004-05 4-1 2004-09-05 1-2 2005-01-01 League 2
2005-06 1-0 2006-03-18 0-1 2005-12-26 League 2
2013-14 3-0 2013-09-21 1-1 2014-03-15 League 2
2014-15 1-1 2015-02-14 0-1 2014-08-09 League 2
2015-16 2-2 2016-03-28 0-1 2015-11-14 League 2
2018-19 4-0 2018-09-29 1-1 2019-04-13 League 2
2019-20 1-1 2019-12-21 (at Mansfield) League 2
2003-04 1-3 2004-05-20 2-0 2004-05-16 Div 3 playoff semifinals
(The Stags went through to the finals after winning 5-4 on penalties at Field Mill)
1946-47 0-2 1946-11-30 (at County Ground) 1st round
1948-49 2-1 1948-12-11 (at Field Mill) 2nd round
1989-08-22 1-1 (at Field Mill) 1st round, 1st leg
1989-09-05 2-0 (at County Ground) 1st round, 2nd leg, Stags through 3-1 on aggregate
It will be a stern test on Saturday. Come on Mansfield!
Details from various sources (Stags centenary book, soccerbase, the history CD /update on players/ and various editions of Rothmans Football Yearbook)