PREVIEW: Can Stags end run of draws at struggling Rovers?

Mansfield's manager David Flitcroft
Mansfield's manager David Flitcroft

Desperate for a win after four draws, Mansfield Town this weekend travel to face a Forest Green Rovers side that seem to have finally found their League Two feet after a traumatic start to the season.

Rovers’ first ever season in the Football League saw them bottom for quite some time before the turn of the year when boss Mark Cooper changed things round.

They only won once in their first 14 games, including a 2-0 defeat the One Call Stadium but gradually worked their way out of the drop zone.

Three wins and a draw in February were a big boost, followed by a 3-3 thriller at Newport, though Rovers have lost their last three against title-chasers Accrington Stanley and Notts County, then Crewe away on Tuesday.



After three 1-1 draws in his first three games in charge, Stags manager David Flitcroft will be hoping for a first win to keep their top three finish hopes alive on Saturday.

But he knows Forest Green pose a serious threat.

“They have had an up and down season. It’s tough coming up into the League,” said Flitcroft.

“They came up last season via the play-offs and they play a certain style.

“Mark Cooper tried to play his style at the start of the season and teams sort of picked them off.

“They had a great recruitment in January. It was fantastic. They recruited big. They recruited for size and they got Reuben Reid in.

“And obviously Christian Doidge has been a top performer for them all season.”

He added: “They have tweaked the way they play and now have a more direct style. They are an outfit that is dangerous, certainly at home, and we will watch their game at Crewe before we decide how we are going to set up.

“Mark Cooper is a top football man. He knows the game inside out.

Rovers chairman Dale Vince spoke pre-season about continuing the momentum to be involved in another promotion battle this time around.

But his side suddenly found out how harsh life in League Two can be with every mistake punished that they might have got away with in the National League.

Boss Cooper looks to have now stabilised them, but has a mixed relationship with supporters.

Many of his pre-season signings were quickly discarded as he rebuilt his side mid-season, the defence shored up with players like Gunning from Port Vale.

Their fans like Cooper when the side wins as he does try to play attractive football, though that can sometimes by naïve and not always the best way of consolidating your new-found status.

He often plays his son, Charlie, who takes unfair stick when the side lose as well.

Rovers’ talisman has been striker Christian Doidge, who has netted 20 goals.

Next nearest on the scorers’ list is Reuben Reid, who only joined the club in January, and has four.

So, without Doidge, scoring is an issue. He had played every game until three games ago when he limped off with an ankle injury.

He missed out on the trip to Crewe on Tuesday but is said to have a much better chance to face the Stags on Saturday.

Right back Dale Bennett is also due back after injury which would give Rovers a clean bill of health for the visit of Mansfield.

Rovers are still planning a move to a new stadium near the M5 in a couple of years, though their chairman’s dream of making it part of a huge new eco-park look to have been dashed for now.