As Colchester United head for the One Call Stadium on Saturday, this week’s Memory Match take us back to Saturday, 13th November 2004 when the sides met in an FA Cup first round clash with Stags under a very dark cloud indeed.
Sat in mid-table and still under the regime of former owner Keith Haslam, the club suddenly suspended manager Keith Curle ahead of the Colchester game for what proved to be spurious allegations over bullying that were later thrown out of court.
Then Haslam, already hated by fans, announced he was putting his good friend Carlton Palmer, in charge, which gave the former England midfielder little chance to avoid being probably the only Stags boss ever booed before his side had kicked a ball.
In the end the game itself became a sideshow to the off-the-field happenings.
Colchester took full advantage of the situation when Greg Halford found the top corner after 25 minutes.
But Mansfield were level within three minutes as defender Alex John-Baptiste, surprisingly given the captain’s armband by the new man in charge, smashed home an unlikely equaliser from 30 yards as a headed clearance bounced invitingly towards him.
Palmer brought in a loan player to bolster the squad, but Fraser McLachlan failed to impress the fans and hit a post when he should have buried his finish.
A thoroughly unsatisfactory afternoon was capped by a red card for Derek Asamoah with nine minutes to go, leaving a nervy finish for the home side.
The final whistle signalled a reply at Colchester where the U’s ran out comfortable 4-1 winners as Palmer began his ill-fated life as Stags manager without a win in his first six games.