Sports Mole previews Saturday’s League Two clash between Mansfield Town and Newport County, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Mansfield Town play host to Newport County on Saturday afternoon looking to extend their unbeaten streak in League Two to 17 matches.
At a time when the Stags occupy third position in the standings, Newport are down in 20th spot, six points above the relegation zone.
Given their near misses in recent seasons, the pressure is growing on Nigel Clough to finally deliver promotion for Mansfield, but they are giving themselves the best opportunity.
Putting together a 16-match unbeaten streak and collecting 32 points along the way is a better start than many would have anticipated, only Stockport County and Wrexham sitting above the Stags in the table.
With a game in hand also in their favour, Mansfield will feel well placed to remain in contention for the title, yet they must focus on taking things one match at a time.
Their early FA Cup elimination – to Wrexham – means that they can prioritise their league fixtures, something which can benefit them in the long run when their more illustrious rivals may have cup runs in mind.
Mansfield head into this game on a four-match winning streak in the league, yet they have not posted a victory and clean sheet from the same game since September 23.
As far as Newport are concerned, they had come close to becoming embroiled in a relegation scrap having put together a run of just one win in 10 fixtures.
However, there have been signs of life of late with four points being collected from games against Gillingham and MK Dons, teams who sit above them in the table.
Graham Coughlan will not be satisfied with the minor upturn in fortunes, the goal being to improve on their 15th-placed finish from 2023-24.
Nevertheless, with slipping into the bottom two becoming less of a concern and a home FA Cup second-round tie against National League side Barnet to come, there are reasons for optimism at Rodney Parade.
Mansfield Town League Two form:
Mansfield Town form (all competitions):
Newport County League Two form:
Newport County form (all competitions):
Advert – content below:
Clough will be forced into at least one change with Calum MacDonald collecting his fifth yellow card of the season last time out.
Baily Cargill looks most likely to deputise at left-back with the rest of the starting lineup expected to remain the same.
Coughlan took the approach of making minimal changes for the EFL Trophy defeat to Bristol Rovers in midweek, Newport losing that by a 1-0 scoreline.
Barring any issues from that fixture, he should revert back to the team that began the MK Dons fixture, a move that would see Omar Bogle return in attack.
That would result in 18-year-old forward Olly Thomas – who has eight substitute outings in League Two to his name this season – only selected among the replacements.
Mansfield Town possible starting lineup:
Pym; Johnson, Flint, Brunt, Cargill; Lewis, Reed, Maris; Keillor-Dunn; Oates, Bowery
Newport County possible starting lineup:
Townsend; Payne, Baker, Bennett, Delaney, Bondswell; Evans, McLoughlin, Wood, Morris; Bogle
We say: Mansfield Town 3-1 Newport County
With two clean sheets in succession, Newport will have confidence that they can leave Field Mill with at least a share of the spoils. However, we cannot back against Mansfield versus the majority of opponents in this league, resulting in us predicting a hard-earned triumph for Clough’s side.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.