New Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans faces the toughest challenge of his three games in charge so far as he takes his side up to the most northerly of English grounds to face former Stags boss Keith Curle’s bang-in-form Carlisle United.
After a day’s training at England’s St George’s Park today, the Stags will head north tomorrow to prepare for a match against a side that have lost once once in their 24 games so far this season.
The Cumbrians were the last team in the league to suffer a defeat, which finally came 2-0 at Newport County on 12th November. That ended a re d hot run of eight straight wins, Carlisle winning all six games in October.
However, they have wobbled a little in the last two games, needing two last ditch goals to avoid a home defeat by Carlisle United before giving away points at Grimsby in midweek after conceding a 78th minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw.
Evans’ men head north in fantastic spirit after taking maximum points from two home games in four days to give the new manager a superb start to his tenure.
It doubled the number of home games the Stags have won this season and was the first time they had won back-to-back League games this season.
A comprehensive 3-1 win over Crawley Town on Saturday was followed by a narrow 1-0 win over a decent Blackpool side, thanks to a 92nd minute winner by sub Danny Rose on Tuesday.
Stags’ away record this season has been excellent – play-off form in fact – but anything brought back from Brunton Park on Saturday will have to be earned the hard way.
Click HERE to read Lomas on Stags column on the Steve Evans revolution this week
STAGS TEAM NEWS
Stags will be hoping skipper Lee Collins (knee) will be back after injury to ease their stretched defensive options with George Taft, Kyle Howkins and Corbin Shires all sidelined with knocks and Alex Iacovitti serving the final match of a three game ban for his red card at Portsmouth.
POSSIBLE STAGS STARTING XI
Shearer; Bennett, Pearce, Collins, Benning; McGuire, Clements, Gobern, Hemmings; Hoban, Green.
CARLISLE TEAM NEWS
Keith Curle looks to have the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from.
Only defender David Atkinson has been sidelined recently but he is almost ready to return after a calf injury.
POSSIBLE CARLISLE STARTING XI
Gillespie, T. Miller, Grainger, Raynes, Gillesphey, Jones, Joyce, Adams, Kennedy, Ibehre, Wyke.
KEY BATTLE: NICKY ADAMS v MAL BENNING
Winger Nicky Adams has been consistently impressive since his summer move from Northampton.
An excellent crosser and naturally positive player, whose bright personality has also had a good effect on the team, Adams tends to top the assists charts whichever club he is playing for, and it is rare that he is not a threat in any given game.
CARLISLE ONE TO WATCH
Definitely one to watch is Jason Kennedy, who has been in good goalscoring form from midfield recently, but the central midfield pair of Mike Jones and Luke Joyce always ensure Carlisle are competitive and captain Danny Grainger’s left foot can also be very influential.
OPPOSITION MANAGER: KEITH CURLE
After a mixed start, boss Keith Curle has now become a very popular figure among fans and his influence on the team and club has become ever more apparent.
In his first season Carlisle avoided relegation with some often grim football and with a degree of unrest behind the scenes.
But once Curle was able to put his own stamp on the squad, and make further changes behind the scenes, improvement has been noticeable.
They have at times played some attractive football and the general quality of recruitment has increased.
It appears he was the fresh face and approach the club sorely needed after some years of stagnation.
CARLISLE SEASON SO FAR
The Cumbrians’ season has gone very well so far.
After finishing 10th last season, there were realistic hopes of a play-off challenge, or higher, given the standard of summer recruitment.
But to make the longest unbeaten start to a season in the club’s history certainly surpassed expectations.
There is now increased confidence that Carlisle could sustain a serious promotion challenge.
Saturday, April 16th 2016: Carlisle United 1, Mansfield Town 2
Mansfield Town breathed new life into their play-off aspirations as they recorded a notable 2-1 victory away to promotion-chasing Carlisle United back in April.
A run of seven games without a win had seen the Stags’ hopes of a top-seven finish fade, but goals from Colin Daniel and Reggie Lambe either side of half-time earned all three points for the visitors.
Click HERE to read the match report
GROUND AND TICKETS
BRUNTON PARK (CA1 1LL): An easy ground to find, simply exit the M6 at junction 43, joining the A69 towards Carlisle, and Brunton Park is located on the right, after about a mile.
Parking there is also good with plenty of room behind the ground itself and lots of on-street parking nearby.
The Cumbrians have allocated Stags 150 tickets for the fixture, priced at: Adult £19, Senior (65+) £16, Young adult (18-22) £13, Junior (11-17) £10,
Child (10 and under) £7, Six and under: free.
United also offer a number of family discounts on tickets, priced at: One adult and one junior £27, One adult and two juniors £35, One senior and one junior £24
Wheelchair users are required to purchase a ticket at a cost of £4, however their carer will receive a free ticket.
Disabled supporters must purchase a ticket in the relevant age category, however they will be eligible to receive a free carer ticket if they can show proof of full-time carer status and higher band disability allowance.
All tickets, with the exception of junior and child tickets, will be subject to a £3 increase on the day of the game.
Pre-purchased tickets will go off sale at 4pm on Friday.
To purchase tickets, call 01623 482 482 or visit the ticket office on Quarry Lane.
To stay in touch with all things Mansfield Town, visit our Chad Stags Facebook page by clicking HERE and then clicking the like button.
Full match report and reaction at www.chad.co.uk after the game.