Big crowd and thriller expected as Stags host first Colchester visit for years

Derek Asamoah is sent off for Stags in an FA Cup tie when Colchester last visited Field Mill back in 2004.
Derek Asamoah is sent off for Stags in an FA Cup tie when Colchester last visited Field Mill back in 2004.

Mansfield Town host a League visit from Colchester United for the first time in over 14 years on Saturday with Stags hoping two successive home wins and a special ticket offer will boost the home crowd.

And assistant Stags boss Paul Raynor believes, with Colchester’s attacking football, fans who do turn out will be in for a thriller.

With attendances traditionally dropping at this time of year due to Christmas shopping, chairman John Radford has put on an ‘Evans’ 11’ ticket admitting an adult and a junior for £11.

Just as important is the prospect of a third successive home victory under new boss Steve Evans after seeing off Crawley Town and Blackpool in his first two games in charge of a side that had struggled at the One Call Stadium for so long.

Since their relegation last season, Colchester have struggled to find their feet in League Two.

But a 3-0 win at Cheltenham and a 4-0 home win against Crewe in their last two games shows what they are capable of and they now sit 15th, one place and two points behind the Stags.

“It will be a tough game as they are on the back of a fine victory against Crewe,” said Raynor.

“We have been watching the game and obviously having a look at how they play.

“They are very a very expansive team who play with real freedom. They like to play a very open game and a very attacking game.

“So it looks like it is going to be an entertaining game, that’s for sure. Colchester don’t hold back, they don’t sit in or try to hit on the break. They come out and try to play and are very adventurous.

“They have got a new manager in there since the summer, John McGreal, did a great job with their academy and their U21 side.

“They came up to Leeds last year and I could see what he was trying to do. It seems to be just starting to come together for them.”

The game marks the start of a busy Festive period for Mansfield and Raynor said: “We’d like maximum points obviously, why not? Let’s aim high.

“We have had three wins out of four since we came in and want to continue that.

“We were disappointed with our performance away at Carlisle in the last League game, but we put that to bed, so to speak, in the cup tie in midweek.

“Now we want to get back to winning ways in terms of League form, and what better place to do it then here on Saturday?”

Centre halves Kyle Howkins, George Taft and Corbin Shires continue to recover from injury. But otherwise Mansfield could have the rest of the squad fit to choose from with everyone else now back in full training.

“Mitch Rose and Darius Henderson have trained this morning, but it’s the first full session they have had, though,” said Raynor.

“So we’ll have a look and see how they are in the morning to make sure there is no reaction.

“Paddy Hoban has done a little bit with us this morning as well and he is progressing well as well.

“So things are starting to clear up, apart from the long term injuries.

“It’s all you can ask. People are knocking on the door, people are training well, people are performing well in the games and that’s nice to see.”

The new management team have warned the current squad that if they don’t shape up by January, replacements will be shipped in. But Raynor believes the response to that has been excellent.

“Results will tell you that – three wins out of four will tell you that,” he said.

“There is a lot more work to come and a lot more quality needed, but the guys are responding very well.

“We are out there actively looking. Our scouting network is out there looking at players, identifying targets, and let’s hope we don’t need too many.

“Let’s hope these boys that are here already step up and stop us having to spend so much of the chairman’s money.”

Raynor called on supporters to turn out in numbers and take advantage of the club’s ticket offer, for which fans need to cut out a special coupon from this week’s copy of the Chad or download the coupon from the club web site.

“The response from fans, particularly the first game here against Crawley, was fantastic,” he said.

“They came again on a horrible Tuesday night and supported us. Forget the Christmas shopping. Let’s take the chairman up on his fantastic offer.

“Let’s get the kids down here and get them enjoying it and let’s hopefully see us get three points on the board and another home victory.”

Colchester last visited Mansfield in November 2004 in the FA Cup when they drew 1-1, Stags having Derek Asamoah sent off, to force a replay they won 4-1.

In their last League clashes in 2002/03 Mansfield beat Colchester 4-2 but lost the return 1-0 at Layer Road.