OPINION: Mansfield Town are set for an exciting season

The One Call Stadium, home of Mansfield Town FC.
The One Call Stadium, home of Mansfield Town FC.

The countdown is well under way to Mansfield Town’s new season after their first pre-season match at Rainworth Miners’ Welfare last weekend and tomorrow’s double header with Carlton and Clipstone.

The big League Two kick-off at Newport County over the first weekend in August is just around the corner, but you have to say the computers and people who come up with the fixture list have done their best to dampen some enthusiasm for the 2016/17 campaign among the travelling Stags fans, some of whom watched the 2-0 win at Rainworth last weekend.

A trip to Newport is not what many supporters would have dreamed of to start the new campaign, although I do think an away match takes a lot of the pressure off Adam Murray and his new-look squad on the opening day of the season.

And, to be fair, home matches on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve - against Morecambe and Doncaster Rovers respectively - will be welcomed over the holiday period.

However, some of the other trips, which many would have been looking forward to ahead of the fixture list being released, seem ridiculous in terms of timing.

Blackpool, which would have been penciled in by many for a great weekend away, is not ideal on 2nd January. In fact, most of the seaside trips will be in winter!

And Tuesday night trips to Yeovil and newly-relegated Colchester will not be easy for many to make. I suppose on the flip side this season there are more midweek home league matches, four to be precise.

The home matches - last season’s achilles heel at times according to many fans - will not get off to an easy start with newly-promoted Cheltenham first up.

But, of course, you have to play all the teams at some point and what a boost three points from the first home match could be for both the team and the fans.

Of course, last season the Stags entertained the future surprise packet and Premier League champions, Leicester City, in pre-season - and acquitted themselves well in a 1-1 draw.

Would it be right, therefore, to make newly-promoted Hull favourites for the Premier League title next season as they visit One Call Stadium on 19th July for a pre-season friendly.

It will be interesting to watch theStags new signings and see how they gel within manager Adam Murray’s plans over the next few weeks.

All the newcomers excite me and I am sure have played a part in the club selling more than 1,000 season tickets so early in the summer.

The new faces, coupled with a more attack-minded style from the Stags last season and the freezing of season ticket prices, must have persuaded some fans to sign up for what promises to be an exciting season from August.

Experienced defenders who have already won promotion from League Two - Rhys Bennett and George Taft - a striker who has proved himself at this and a higher level - Danny Rose - and two exciting wingers, CJ Hamilton and Ashley Hemmings, have all whetted my appetite for the coming season.

Add to those Pat Hoban, a Wembley winner with Grimsby last season, and midfielder Kevan Hurst, another who has won promotion from League Two, and it is easy to see why many people around One Call Stadium think this forthcoming season could be one where a serious attempt on promotion is made.

It will also be interesting to see what influence new coach Karl Hawley has. It seemed to many fans that it would only be a matter of time before he stepped up after initially coming last season as a strikers coach.

And how Mike Whitlow on his return to the club will use his vast Premier League and Football League experience with the under-21s on their new adventure in the Central League.

The club probably needed a change in the coaching side to freshen things up.

Let’s hope it pays dividends when the talking and speculation stops and the serious action starts in just a few weeks