BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Mansfield Town v Doncaster Rovers - Saturday, December 31st 2016

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BIG MATCH PREVIEW

A strange atmosphere envelopes Saturday’s final game of an eventful 2016 for Mansfield Town.

Four League Two games without a win, the last three without a goal, have left a flat feeling after such a promising start to Steve Evans’ reign as manager and several of his players know that, whatever happens against table-topping Doncaster on Saturday, their futures are in doubt as Evans does not see everyone in his long-term plans.

Indeed, three new players are already at the club with another possibly on the way tomorrow.

Evans will be hoping that fact plus recent results will spark a reaction from the current players to show their worth against a bang-in-form Rovers side that will be backed by a noisy following of 1,600 fans.

Click HERE to read Evans’ thoughts on the game.

STAGS TEAM NEWS

Left back Mal Benning is back from suspension and Stags have no new injury problems with only defenders George Taft and Corbin Shires missing long term from the squad.

Striker Danny Rose will be hoping on a long-awaited recall after the side has gone three games without scoring.

POSSIBLE STAGS STARTING XI

Shearer, Bennett, Pearce, Howkins, Benning, Green, McGuire, Clements, Hemmings, Hoban, D. Rose.

DONCASTER TEAM NEWS

James Coppinger will serve the final game of a three match suspension after being sent off at Plymouth earlier in the month.

Tommy Rowe suffered a hamstring strain at Notts County on Boxing Day and could be a doubt.

Long term injuries include Gary McSheffrey, Luke McCullough, Aaron Taylor Sinclair and Mitchell Lund.

POSSIBLE DONCASTER STARTING XI (4-4-2 diamond)

Marosi, Alcock, Baudry, Butler, Mason, Houghton, Blair, Rowe, Mandeville, Williams, Marquis.

KEY BATTLE: CHRIS CLEMENTS v TOMMY ROWE

Midfielder Rowe did incredibly well during a loan spell at the end of last season and few expected he would return following relegation.

His signing was a real statement of intent.

Though it has taken him a while to get up to the same speed this season, he is now in excellent form and dominating the midfield.

His understanding with James Coppinger is excellent and the two are the creative driving force in the side.

DONCASTER ONE TO WATCH: JORDAN HOUGHTON

Darren Ferguson believes the base of the diamond is the most important position on the pitch for Rovers in terms of how he wants to play.

The side was being built around Luke McCullough in the role but he ruptured his knee ligaments late in pre-season.

Houghton was drafted in on loan from Chelsea and no one could have predicted how crucial he would be for Rovers.

Strong in the tackle and remarkably composed, he has been excellent as the base for everything which Rovers do.

OPPOSITION MANAGER: DARREN FERGUSON

Ferguson made a brilliant early impression on supporters as took a side unexpectedly languishing in the relegation zone and pushed them up the table.

By the end of his first ten weeks or so at the club, play-off aspirations looked to be alive once again.

But the bottom fell out in the most dramatic of ways and Rovers embarked on a 17-match winless run.

The owners kept faith and good business in the summer helped bring some supporters back on side.

But the progress since the start of the season has the majority believing Ferguson is the right man for this division and the one above.

His brand of football is a joy to watch at times.

DONCASTER SEASON SO FAR

Promotion was the one and only aspiration for Rovers this season. Relegation last season was unthinkable for everyone associated with the club so getting straight back into League One was seen as essential from the end of last term.

Recruitment in the summer was largely excellent and, after somewhat of a slow first month, Rovers have been a major force in the division.

They look a level above the vast majority of the division and are well placed for a top three finish.

LAST MEETING – Tuesday, 30th August 2016

Mansfield Town 0, Doncaster Rovers 2

Two goals in the last 18 minutes saw Doncaster Rovers home to a 2-0 victory over Mansfield Town in the opening Checkatrade EFL Trophy group clash at One Call Stadium back in August – still Stags’ only defeat in the competition this season.

To make matters worse for Stags, they also lost Jamie McGuire and Kyle Howkins to injury.

Stags tried to play out from the back, but it wasn’t been the most exciting of games in the much-maligned competition with few clear cut chances.

However, the visitors made the breakthrough on 72 minutes when debut-making teenager Alfie Beestin found the net. The 18-year-old, signed from Tadcaster Rovers, buried a low 20 yard finish to rock the home side.

Then, as Stags pushed for an equaliser, they were stung on the counter-attack four minutes from time by a break that ended with Liam Mandeville setting up Riccardo Calder with a close range finish.

Click HERE to read the full match report

TICKETS

Rovers have sold all their 1,600 tickets for the game, but Stags fans can pay on the day.

Supporters are urged to take up the club’s family ticket offer which allows one adult and one child to watch a match for just £18, which offers a massive saving of up to £18.

Family tickets are available to purchase both in advance and on matchdays from the ticket office on Quarry Lane.

The Stags’ designated family section is Block A of the Ian Greaves Stand (Lower Tier), therefore supporters purchasing a family ticket must sit in this block.

To purchase your family ticket, visit the ticket office which is situated to the rear of the Quarry Lane End at One Call Stadium or call us via telephone on 01623 482 482.

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

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