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Mansfield Town 1 v 1 Colchester United
SkyBet League Two
Saturday, 18th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Mansfield Vs U's - Durham's Preview
Friday, 17th Aug 2018 20:52 by Durham Exile

After a dose of reality at the Jonny-Rocks stadium on Tuesday evening in the Carabao Cup (8 successive defeats now in the League Cup) JM takes his charges to the One Call Stadium Mansfield on Saturday to do battle with David Flitcroft and Ben Futcher’s side.

It has since transpired that several of the U’s players (JM included) had been laid low with a virus (possibly gastro enteritis) after Sunday evening and this meant that they were unable to train or participate in the game. That is not in any way to offer an excuse because the U’s were poor in the first half and needed to change formation slightly in the second half where they showed great character to come back from 2-0 down against a revitalised Cheltenham team.

After Szmodics and Norris had brought the U’s back into the game, they were edged out 6-5 on penalties with Norris and Senior failing to convert.

It is of course the league where the U’s are expected to do very well this season and will be looking to get back to league one at the third time of asking. Both the Stags and the U’s have made a bright start to their respective campaigns, Mansfield buoyed by their 6-1 Cup hammering of Accrington Stanley, who have suffered a wretched start to their league one campaign with a home defeat and cup exit.

Those matches have gone now, and JM needs to think seriously about the Mansfield game where we have an excellent recent record against the Stags.

Table - very early days of course:

Exeter 2 – 6
Lincoln 2- 6
MK Dons 2 – 6
FGR 2 – 4
Mansfield 2- 4
Stevenage 2- 4
COLCHESTER 2 -4
Tranmere 2- 4

Mansfield have Tyler Walker on loan from Forest and he obliged with a hattrick on Tuesday, striker Danny Rose also weighed in with a goal whilst Jacob Mellis and Callum Butcher are good midfielders.

Flitcroft will be looking to maintain their good start whilst JM must ensure that he does the same.

I am of the belief that JM will revert to virtually the opening day team with one important change, Kane Vincent-Young will come in for Aaron Collins. This change will allow Brennan Dickenson to play as an out and out winger and not in the left back position, which is neither an effective nor a useful way to employ him.

Therefore, I would go with the following, in a 3,4,2,1 formation:

Barnes

Eastman Prosser Kent

Jackson Pell Lapslie Vincent-Young

Szmodics Dickenson

Nouble

Subs:

Ross Senior A Barnes Wright Mandron Collins Norris

This formation and line up has to be close to JM’s preferred option. I know that there is no starting place for Senior, but JM will want to ensure that nothing is left to chance in the game and this allows him to use the optimum midfield pairing plus two wing backs who like to get forward whilst allowing Dickenson to operate down either flank and giving Szmodics the roaming role with Frank Nouble up front.

The situation with Mika Mandron is one that both fascinates and frustrates me. I am a big Mandron fan, Mandron want to play and he can play, but he fails to convert enough chances and we cannot employ a centre forward who simply cannot hit the back of the net regularly enough.

As Mike Bassett’s number two Lonnie Urquhart eloquently put it in the classic film, “That Rufus Smalls couldn’t hit the side of a Renault Espace”.

Mandron of course gets through an amazing amount of work in a game, but he is not a midfield player and that is why at present he must start from the bench at the appropriate time in a game. The goals will come but we must be patient.

Clearly Aaron Collins would be unlucky to be on the bench, but once again he has the ability and needs to develop it as the season progresses. Ryan Gondoh is another who will get his chance in the midfield, but JM will look for the experience that the excellent Pell and Lapslie bring to the middle of the park.

The only other way to accommodate Collins is to play four at the back and drop either Kent or Eastman but JM likes the three at the back particularly away from home. It is also difficult to consider leaving out either Jackson or Vincent-Young who have both started the season well.

The weather in Mansfield tomorrow is likely to be 23 degrees Celsius and warm and sunny. A decent crowd can be expected, in the region of 5,000 with 350 of the faithful in good voice.

Forget about what happened midweek, tomorrow is all about the three points and maintaining our excellent league start. Mansfield are one of the other contenders for those coveted promotion spots, so JM will want the players to perform in order to secure a victory.

Safe journey to the travelling faithful.

Enjoy the game.

Up the U’s

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