Swindon Town return to the bread and butter of the football league as they travel to Mansfield to take on Nigel Clough side in the re-arranged league two game tomorrow evening.
Both played in the third round of the FA cup at the weekend. For Swindon Town it was the Premier League champions Manchester City gracing the County Ground and coming away with a 4-1 away victory and passage to the 4th round of the FA Cup. For Mansfield Town there was heartbreak at home to Middlesbrough. 2-0 down at half time after two goals in the opening fifteen minutes gave the championship side the lead. Mansfield Town did brilliantly to get it back to 2-2 with minutes remaining, to be then denied in the cruellest way in the fifth minute of stoppage time by an unfortunate own goal from John-Joe O’Toole who diverted a cross in from the right into the unguarded net.
Friday night under the lights at the County Ground and on ITV was a spectacle, full credit goes to Manchester City for naming that side. I am not going to lie; in all of the years I have watched Swindon Town I was in awe of the visitors. It was different level of football to what we have watched at the County Ground in previous years. I feared a cricket score and a hammering, we lost 4-1 and we gave it a go against the best side in England. One of the best sides in World and European Football. The noise when Harry McKirdy scored was deafening and it felt like we scored the opening goal of the game, a night I think most Swindon fans will cherish for a long time. Shame it was hampered by the unsavoury scenes at ITV pundit Ashley Cole. That was uncalled for and still in 2022 we are talking about Racism in football. Hope the club will do its best to sort out the culprits.
Sadly, it was confirmed that Kaine Kesler-Hayden has been recalled by his parent club Aston Villa on Sunday morning. That was nice to wake up to after Friday night display, in all honesty I was not surprised. He was head and shoulders, Swindon Town best player on Friday and coped with the treat of Joao Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus with ease.
Predicted Swindon XI vs Mansfield Town
Ward, Odimayo, Conroy, Critchlow, Hunt, Reed, Lyden, Williams, Iandolo, McKirdy, Simpson
After a rocky patch earlier in the season which saw Mansfield Town drop to the bottom of the league table, a fine run of form pre-Christmas has seen Nigel Clough side elevate themselves to 9th in the League Two Table. Thirty-two points from twenty-two games this season see Mansfield Town sit just three points behind seventh place Newport County in the final play off position.
After a horrible start to the season and the so-called rocky patch which I referred to earlier, it was one win from the opening thirteen games of the season. That win was the dramatic opening day win of the season against Bristol Rovers. Since the end of October, the fortunes of form have turned around for Mansfield Town and Nigel Clough.
Seven wins in the next eight games in the league have followed and elevated Mansfield Town to just outside of the play offs. Sutton United are the only team to beat Mansfield Town in the league since mid-October. That was a 2-0 away defeat at Sutton United, it has been a magnificent turn around by Nigel Clough and it should be applauded. Tranmere Rovers, Stevenage, Scunthorpe United, Crawley Town, Carlisle United, Salford and Hartlepool United have all been beaten in this stretch of results. This will be Mansfield Town first game in the league since Boxing day as like most clubs in England they have had postponements due to Covid19.
By Scot Monroe