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STAGSNET STATISTICAL PREVIEW
6th May 2016 14:47


The final round of the 2015-16 League Two campaign is underway. And for the Stags, it ends with a home fixture against Cambridge United. In the table, the Stags can finish anywhere between 9th and 14th position depending on results on the final day, while Cambridge currently sit in 8th spot, their best at current League Two level since their latest promotion as a Football League club way back in 1998-99, then to current League One level.

But the next goal between the sides on Saturday will be the first in FL league games between the sides at Mansfield will be the first since a Cambridge 90th minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw on April 3, 2004.

The two FL games at Mansfield since then have both ended goalless.

When Cambridge played at Mansfield in October 2014, the Stags were injury-ravaged big style, yet managed a goal-less draw, only the second of all time between the sides. This was also the first FL fixture between the sides for a decade, as the last of those before Cambridge’s relegation in 2005 was the first-ever goal-less game between the side, a very dour one.

In the BSP, Cambridge were one of five sides facing the Stags in all Stags’five seasons outside the FL. The others were Barrow, Forest Green, Kidderminster and Wrexham, all but Forest Green having played in the FL. That alone said a lot about the team turnover in the BSP over the years. And no team that played Cambridge in their 2004-05 relegation season have been continuously playing in League Two since then, not even Rochdale. That also speaks volumes as Accrington, BSP champions in Cambridge's first out of nine seasons there, now are the longest-serving League Two member continuously.

The home game against Cambridge on February 16, 2013, proved to be a pointer for the remainder of the Stags’ season then, ending in a 3-1 Stags victory. Little did the previewer (and other Stags fans as well) know then that this particular fixture was to be the first in a famous 12-match winning run which catapulted the Stags from just outside the playoff zone into pole position a month later, finally securing the FL return as champions on April 20, 2013.

Yet, penalties and injury-time goals have been two major ingredients in Stags v Cambridge clashes during the time of Stagsnet previewing on games starting with an epic one (see below). The settings have also been about missed and converted spot-kicks.

Two games at Cambridge stand out in particular:

* September 27, 2003. The Stags lead 1-0 at ht but had two players red-carded. Early in the second half, Cambridge are awarded a penalty. But Walker saw his kick saved by Kevin Pilkington. A few minutes later, nine-men Stags /against 11-men Cambridge/ are favoured from the spot. Liam Lawrence /now at Shrewsbury/ converts and shoots the Stags 2-0 up in an unbelievable fixture.

* April 5, 2010. Injury-time penalties at the stand of 2-2. Cambridge converted theirs to 3-2, but with virtually the last kick of the game, the Stags were awarded a pen, but missed theirs and lost.

A spot-kick was also essential in the Stags winning mixture at Field Mill during the third season of the Stags’ BSP stay. Parker converted one on the hour-mark to the only goal of the game on August 28, 2010, penalty conceded by Jennings, sent off in that sequence. And at Cambridge, the Stags notched their biggest-ever win in any league fixture between the sides, as the Stags ran riot in the second half, eventually winning 5-1 in a game with several well-taken goals, including Cambridge's.

On March 10, 2009, Cambridge were lucky to win in injury-time, and on April 3, 2004, the U's equalized in the 90th minute at Field Mill.

Below are some facts on Cambridge United:

When Cambridge United had their first-ever taste of league football in 1970-71 after being elected at the expense of Bradford Park Avenue, they fielded two ex-Stags players. But none of them figured in Cambridge’s first-ever league game, a 1-1 home draw against Lincoln on August 15, 1970.

The ex-Stags were two forwards: John Gregson (74+2 sub games for the Stags, five goals), who figured in Cambridge’s first-ever league win, a 3-1 at home to Oldham on August 29, 1970, and Ivan Hollett, who started his league career at the Stags with 99 games and 40 goals to his credit before going to the arch-rivals Chesterfield (65 goals in 157 games for the Spireites). During the 1970-71 season, Hollett came to Cambridge from Crewe and was to be their top league scorer with 11 goals in 29 games. But those two players were no more on United’s books when the teams faced each other for the first time in the 1972-73 season.

The Stags won their home game early on (the fourth of five straight wins from the start of that season 3-1 (Stags: Fairbrother, Longhorn, Walker; Cambridge: Lill, attendance: 5,216), and the return game at Cambridge was to be a promotion decider at Abbey Stadium.

No wonder then that the game on April 28, 1973, attracted Cambridge’s highest home crowd that season, 10,542! At the end of that day, Cambridge won 3-2 (Cambridge scorers Walton 2, Ross pen, Stags scorers McCaffrey, Dudley Roberts) and gained promotion instead of the Stags. Even then, a penalty was awarded and converted.

That this promotion decider provided goals, was no surprise. Cambridge netted in all Division Four games bar five while the Stags scored in all bar eight, including the first twenty-one games until a 2-0 defeat at Workington on December 9, 1972, the same Workington side that ended a Cambridge run of fourteen games without defeat due to a 5-1 mauling in Cumbria a fortnight earlier.

Some of the Stags players figuring at Cambridge in April 1973 were to play prominent parts in promotion campaigns and a solitary Division 2 season to come: Kevin Bird and goalie Rod Arnold, both appearing in Stags colours for more than a decade. The Stags coach then, Frank Marshall, was a year later taken to Sweden on recommendation by George Raynor, a former Stags player which guided the Swedish National team into the 1958 World Cup Final against Brazil. Marshall settled in the Halmstad area where he within five years steered IS Halmia into the Swedish equivalent to Premier League in the same year as the Stags played their solitary Division Two campaign, in 1978. By the way, Marshall passed away in Halmstad about a year ago.

But 12 months after the first-ever Cambridge FL promotion, Cambridge were back in the basement and that 1974-75 Stags first-ever championship season saw the first FA-Cup tie between the sides. A 3rd round tie at Field Mill saw the Stags through with a Ray Clarke strike in front of 10486 on January 4, 1975. A brief view of the stats show that the sides had up to September 27, 2003, each had won six home games out of eight, and a draw and an away win each, and the last meeting prior to the 2003-04 season produced the most goals scored as Cambridge won their home game on March 20, 1999 with 7-2. Arjan van Heusden was the Cambridge goalie in that fixture.

After the 2-4 away defeat on October 5, 1985, the Stags won four games on the trot to go top of the old fourth division and the 2-2 draw at Field Mill on September 18, 1990, was the Stags solitary home point in the first seven games of the 1990-91 season, and the Stags have scored in every league game bar three, the away game on February 28, 1998, against the 1989-90 and 1990-91 FA cup giant killers, reaching the quarter-finals on both occasions and the two latest games at Mansfield as FL ones.

An epic encounter between the sides was played at Abbey Stadium on September 27, 2003. The Stags had opened the scoring through Disley halfway through the first half. Then Christie and Day were red-carded before the closure of the first half. Many, including myself internet-checking the game while on my newspaper covering the final day of my local FA 2003 season, wondered if the Stags should hold on? Regarding the penalties, see above. The Stagsnet report began with "Unbelievable stuff". Quite correctly, and more than that.

The September 2003 result was typical of Cambridge’s odd results that 2003-04 season. The “U’s” lost ten home games that season, only surpassed on the final day by Southend, and won fewer at headquarters than any other side, while their away record was better than the ones achieved by two of the promoted sides, Torquay and Huddersfield, and on goal difference, one goal worse than the one of the Stags.

At Mansfield, Cambridge had before the 2011-12 season only won once. This happened in the 1998-99 season, the latest Cambridge promotion one as a league club.

Another interesting fact is that both sides have had a Colin Foster in their league line-up. While the Stags had one during the mid-seventies Championship seasons and the 1977-78 solitary season in the old 2nd division, Cambridge had one some twenty years later.

Cambridge were up to the 2011-12 season the only BSP club having missed out on a FL return by losing two consecutive playoff finals. Both were to Devon clubs, Exeter in 2008 and Torquay the following year. Luton became the second one that season. But in the 2013-14 season, it was third time lucky for Cambridge regarding playoff finals. A 2-1 victory against Gateshead ensured Cambridge's FL return after nine seasons outside the FL following relegation and a 10-point deduction in 2005.

One of the players having appeared for both sides managed to figure for THREE different BSP sides in the 2009-10 season. Prior to playing for the Stags and Cambridge, Jon Challinor managed five games for Forest Green at the very start of that campaign. Challinor also played for Cambridge in the 1-1 draw at Field Mill in 2008. Another player having appeared for both sides is much-travelled BSP hot-shot Daryl Clare, who in fact blew more cold than hot during his stay at Field Mill. He did the same at Cambridge and was later on released by Alfreton, One of the latest is Tom Shaw who came to Cambridge from Kidderminster and played three games for the Stags at the very end of the 2008-09 campaign, of those two were seen by the previewer (Woking away and Altrincham at home). Yet another one is Rob Duffy, overlooked during the time of the BSP previews between the sides. Fact is that he played nine games for Cambridge prior to joining Oxford a few seasons before coming to the Stags. Mark Peters and Ben Sedgemore are two other players appearing for both sides.In both cases, they figured for Cambridge during their early BSP years. Lewis Price, who kept the Stags goal at the very end of their FL comeback campaign, was Cambridge custodian for six games during the 2004-05 campaign in which Cambridge United were relegated from the FL.

Last season, the sides clashed in the FA Cup second round. A 90th minute Cambridge equalizer at home set up a replay at One Call Stadium, which Cambridge won. Eventually, Cambridge reached the fourth round, managing a replay against Manchester United.

Earlier this season, the sides played out a good 1-1 draw at Cambridge. Both sides have improved vastly compared to last season. Sign of things to come for the next League Two campaign?

Played for both sides: Danny Andrew, Nathan Arnold, Matty Blair, Jamie Campbell, Jon Challinor, Neville Chamberlain, Daryl Clare, Paul Connor, Robbie Cooke, Digger Daley, Rob Duffy, Efon Elad, Scott Eustace, Scott Garner, Gerald Graham, John Gregson, Kevin Griffin, Ivan Hollett, James Jennings, David Lyon, Neil MacKenzie, Kieran Murtagh, Tom Naylor, Mark Peters, Lewis Price, Jason Rees, Ben Sedgemore, Tom Shaw, Matt Somner, Greg Taylor, Colin Toon, Arjan van Heusden.

More on recent Cambridge games in the match centre for the corresponding season.

Come on Mansfield!

Stats file:

Home: P 16, W 9, D 5, L 2, GF 25, GA 16
Away: P 17, W 4, D 3, L 10, GF 29, GA 40

Season Home Date Away Date

1972-73 3-1 1972-08-30 2-3 1973-04-28 Div 4 (old)
1974-75 2-1 1975-03-07 2-2 1974-09-24 Div 4 (old)
1985-86 2-0 1986-03-08 2-4 1985-10-05 Div 4 (old)
1990-91 2-2 1990-09-18 1-2 1991-02-01 Div 3 (old)
1995-96 2-1 1996-01-23 2-0 1996-03-23 Div 3
1996-97 1-0 1997-03-01 1-2 1996-03-12 Div 3
1997-98 3-2 1997-10-11 0-2 1998-02-28 Div 3
1998-99 1-3 1998-10-31 2-7 1999-03-20 Div 3
2003-04 1-1 2004-04-03 2-1 2003-09-27 Div 3
2004-05 0-0 2005-01-11 2-2 2004-09-11 League 2
2008-09 1-1 2008-09-20 1-2 2009-03-10 BSP
2009-10 2-1 2009-12-28 2-3 2010-04-05 BSP
2010-11 1-0 2010-08-28 5-1 2010-12-28 BSP
2011-12 1-2 2011-11-05 2-1 2012-03-06 BSP
2012-13 3-1 2013-02-16 1-4 2012-10-06 BSP
2014-15 0-0 2014-10-18 1-3 2015-04-18 League 2
2015-16 (at Cambridge) 1-1 2015-12-19 League 2

FA Cup

1974-75 1-0 1975-01-04 (at Field Mill) FA Cup 3rd round
2014-15 2-2 2014-12-06 (at Cambridge) FA Cup 2nd round
2014-15 0-1 2014-12-16 (at Mansfield) FA Cup 2nd round replay

 

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