BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Cheltenham Town v Mansfield Town - Saturday, 4th March 2017

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BIG MATCH PREVIEW

Mansfield Town head for Cheltenham Town for what is expected to be a real battle on an awful playing surface with little football expected.

Stags have only lost one in 12 League games and remain in eighth position, a point outside the top seven play-off places.

But Cheltenham have just reeled off three successive wins to put daylight between them and the drop zone and in midweek beat promotion-chasing Carlisle United 1-0 on a surface that Keith Curle described as ‘a dump of a pitch’.

Mansfield have won two and drawn one of their last three trips there.

Click HERE to read Steve Evans’ thoughts on the pitch and the game

STAGS TEAM NEWS

Centre half Kyle Howkins is fit again after a knee injury and in the squad.

But strikers Matt Green (groin) and Danny Rose (hamstring) must prove their fitness before the coach leaves tomorrow afternoon.

Keeper Jake Kean misses out with bruising from last weekend.

Click HERE to read the latest injury news for Mansfield

POSSIBLE STAGS STARTING XI

Shearer, White, Bennett, Pearce, Benning, Collins, Whiteman, Byrom, MacDonald, Hamilton, Coulthirst.

CHELTENHAM TEAM NEWS

Jordan Cranston has served a two match ban and was back available for Tuesday’s home match against Carlisle United.

Nobody is injured at the moment so it should be a fully fit squad on Saturday.

Gary Johnson has been favouring a 3-5-2 formation with loan goalkeeper from Wycombe Wanderers Scott Brown in goal.

The back three will be Emmanuel Onariase (on loan from Brentford), Will Boyle and Tin Plavotic (on loan from Bristol City. Jack Barthram and Liam Davis will be the wing-backs, with skipper Harry Pell, Carl Winchester and James Rowe in the middle, although Kyle Storer is pushing for a place too.

Up front, Kyle Wootton and Billy Waters have been doing well together, so they are expected to continue, but last season’s first choice strikers Dan Holman and Danny Wright are both also in contention.

POSSIBLE CHELTENHAM STARTING XI

Brown, Onariase, Boyle, Plavotic, Barthram, Storer, Pell, Winchester, Davis, Wootton, Waters.

KEY BATTLE: BILLY WATERS v KRYSTIAN PEARCE

Billy Waters has probably been the top Robins performer overall this season, with 14 goals to his name.

He has played up front, out wide and in an attacking centre midfield role, but he is best deployed as a striker.

He is hard-working, quick and tenacious, coming through the youth set-up at Crewe Alexandra before joining Cheltenham in the summer of 2015.

CHELTENHAM ONE TO WATCH: CARL WINCHESTER

Midfielder Carl Winchester looks an excellent January addition, arriving from Oldham Athletic on an 18 month deal.

He scored his first goal in the vital win at Leyton Orient last Saturday. An intelligent user of the ball, the 23-year-old looks a League One level player.

OPPOSITION MANAGER: GARY JOHNSON

Gary Johnson was loyal to the players that won him the National League title and after giving them half season to prove themselves at Football League level, he rang the changes in January and was well backed by the board, who have overstretched the budget in an attempt to climb away from danger.

Johnson is an experienced and wily campaigner, whose best strength is probably his motivational skills.

He has recruited well in the last transfer window and he has never been at any serious risk of losing his job even when the going was very tough.

He is probably still in credit for what he achieved in his first full season, dragging the club back into the Football League at the first attempt.

CHELTENHAM SEASON SO FAR

Few people expected a battle against relegation, based on how previous National League champions have fared after promotion to the Football League.

Some expected a promotion push, but most fans would probably have settled for a season of mid-table consolidation, which could yet be achieved with a strong finish.

The first half of the campaign was a major disappointment, but the January overhaul appears to have done the trick and the team is much-improved.

LAST MEETING: Cheltenham Town 1, Mansfield Town 1

Saturday, 7th March 2015

Almost two years ago to the day substitute Billy Kee earned Mansfield Town a point with the crucial equaliser in the 1-1 draw at relegation rivals Cheltenham Town.

The Robins had drawn first blood two minutes after the break as the Mansfield defence switched off to allow Wes Burns to turn and slot home.

But Scunthorpe loanee Kee came on after 52 minutes and 16 minutes later coolly levelled the game from Reggie Lambe’s pass – his second goal for the Stags.

Overall this was a poor game on what was an awful Whaddon Road surface.

Click HERE to read the match report

TICKETS AND GROUND

To reach Whaddon Road (GL52 5NA) take the M5 to junction 10, and exit onto the A4019 towards Cheltenham.

Keep straight on until reaching a large roundabout with a McDonalds on the left.

Turn left at this roundabout and continue straight on over a double mini roundabout.

After a further ¼ mile, turn right into Swindon Lane. Keep straight on at the next roundabout, passing the racecourse on the left. Follow the signs for Gloucestershire University, turning left into Prestbury Road, from where the ground is well signed.

Stags have an allocation of 714 tickets available to purchase now by visiting the ticket office on Quarry Lane, or calling 01623 482 482.

Alternatively, there will be pay-on-the-day facilities for Stags’ fans at The World Of Smile Stadium.

Supporters will be able to purchase tickets from the away turnstiles, however these will be cash only.

Prices for the match are: Adults £21, Seniors (65+) £15, Students (with valid NUS card) £7, U18s £7.

Don’t forget to read the match report and reaction at www.chad.co.uk after the game.

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