For the third game in a row, the Stags play a side from the south-western part of the country. Two tough away trips to Yeovil and Cheltenham, respectively, have seen the Stags pick up two precious away points in as many goal-less draws. Now, it’s second-placed Plymouth’s turn to take on the long trip to Mansfield for a very stern test for both sides.
While the Stags are unbeaten at home since Boxing Day 2016, the Plymouth pilgrims have faltered a bit lately, especially at Home Park, where Plymouth have lost three Tuesday night games out of three, the latest to a hefty 3-0 scoreline against Blackpool a few days ago. Other victorious teams at Plymouth onTuesday nights are Notts County and Leyton Orient. Yet Plymouth have lost only four times on the road so far and won ten, an away record only bettered by Plymouth’s Devon rivals, Exeter.
Traditionally, the Stags have had problems at Plymouth. It proved so once again earlier this season, when Plymouth won 2-0, only a few days after Stags heroics by beating Yeovil after being down to ten players for almost the whole game.
At Mansfield, the stats are more evenly balanced, with five Stags wins and six Plymouth ones since the first-ever meeting way back in 1958. See more below.
And the biggest Stags win against Plymouth was recorded on March 12, 1979, when the Stags won 5-0 at home thanks to two goals apiece from Syrett and Carter, then one Neville Hamilton strike completed the rout. That same 1978-79 campaign also saw the Stags' so far only victory at Plymouth. On September 9, 1978, the Stags won 4-1 at Home Park, which also was the Stags' first win that season. Stags scorers then: Syrett, Martin, Saxby M and Miller while Binney netted one of his 26 goals then for the Plymouth Pilgrims. Played for Plymouth then did George Foster, more than a decade later to be player-manager for the Stags.
And when the Stags had their home goal famine in late 1971 with the first nine home games without even scoring, the goal drought ended against Plymouth! Despite scoring twice through Fairbrother and Thompson, the game was lost to a 2-3 scoreline. More on that fixture and the 5-0 thrashing in the Vintage Stags section. And the goal famine at the end of the 1999-2000 season also ended against Plymouth. This in a 2-2 home fixture on the final day of that campaign.
The clubs were founder members of the then nationwide third division (now League One) way back in 1958-59, and Plymouth were to be the inaugural champions that campaign, while the Stags then finished just above the relegation zone, but five points ahead of Stockport. And the first-ever FL fixture between the Stags and Plymouth was played at Field Mill on October 18, 1958, when 12492 watched Plymouth win 4-1 and Downie hit the consolation goal for the Stags. Worse was to follow at Plymouth on March 7, 1959, when the Stags were hit for eight for so far the only time in post-war II FL and BSP history attended by 17595 at Home Park. But the Stags themselves hit the net on three occasions. Downie scored twice and Ripley hit his only Stags goal that season. Yet of Downie's four goal in his Stags career, three of them were scored against Plymouth!
The first Stags victory against Plymouth came ten years later. On April 28, 1969, a strike from Goodfellow was enough to see off the Pilgrims. And in two Stags promotion seasons from the old fourth division, 1974-75 and 1985-86, Plymouth were promoted to the second tier, from which the Pilgrims were relegated the season in which the Stags were crowned Third Division champions way back in 1977.
After being Division Three Champions in 2002, Plymouth were promoted to the Championship two seasons later. Well there, the Pilgrims then stayed for six seasons. Severe problems both on and off the field followed, and a 10-point deduction in 2011 ensured relegation to League Two, where Plymouth made a very bad start and were close to relegation to the BSP at one stage. In the first Stags FL campaign back in the FL, Plymouth only finished above the Stags on goal difference.
Now, Plymouth are in their sixth consecutive League Two campaign. In 2011-12 and 2012-13, the Pilgrims only just escaped dropping out of the FL. For the last two seasons, Plymouth have finished inside the playoff zone. Seventh position in 2014-15 was followed up by a final position of fifth last term. But eight home defeats, all of them by the odd goal, prevented the Pilgrims from returning to League One. Yet they reached the playoff finals after beating Portsmouth. But the final was lost to AFC Wimbledon.
Last season, the Stags’ 3-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture at Home Park on February 13, 2016, was their biggest one all season. And only in three other games last term, did the Stags concede three. While the home game on September 26, 2015, was one of only three Stags goal-less League Two fixtures last season.
The game at Mansfield on November 22, 2014, was the first one since the departure of Paul Cox (who now is manager of National League side Barrow). The game was won 1-0 while the game at Plymouth was unluckily lost to a 2-1 scoreline despite a good effort by the Stags down in Devon.
Earlier this season, the sides clashed in the FA Cup first round. Plymouth progressed thanks to a 2-1 victory at One Call Stadium on November 5, 2016.
The last time March 11 was a Saturday, was in 2006. On that date, current Stags boss Steve Evans visited Mansfield with his then side Boston. Then, the Boston Pilgrims were routed big style to a 5-0 scoreline, the Stags’ biggest win that season after a hugely impressive second half. One Boston player then who later was to play over 100 games for the Stags was Gary Silk, subbed early on in the second half. Needless to say that Steve Evans abolished the Boston players’ Sunday break after that rout (details then from Boston website, previewers’ note). Then, with a huge Lincolnshire derby against Lincoln with Alan Marriott in goal coming up………
Played for both sides: Will Atkinson, Terry Austin, Adam Barrett, Eric Bryant, Reg Bungay, Adrian Burrows, Michael Carter, Neville Chamberlain, Steve Cherry, Barry Conlon, Len Featherby, George Foster, Jimmy Gauld, Martin Gritton, Ashley Hemmings, Adrian Littlejohn, Alex MacDonald, George Poyser, David Prentice, Mark Sale, Blair Sturrock (24 games for Plymouth as sub in 2003-04!), Nathan Thomas, Ron Wyllie.
Managed both sides: Dave Smith, Mick Jones, Billy Bingham.
While Mick Jones did not pull upp any trees as a manager, involved in the Stags’ relegation in 1980 as well as the Plymouth one to the basement in 1998, Dave Smith fared much better. He master-minded the first of the Stags’ two Championships in the 1970’s as well as being involved in a Plymouth promotion to the FL second tier in 1985-86, the same campaign which saw the Stags leave the basement division being promoted to the third level. Billy Bingham was manager at Plymouth between February 1968 and March 1970, being Plymouth boss when the Stags beat the Pilgrims at home in April 1969. He was later Stags boss and was that when the Stags’ routed Plymouth (see above) during the 1978-79 season.
Home stats: P 17, W 5, D 6, L 6. GF 21, GA 24
Away stats: P 18, W 1, D 3, L 14. GF 14, GA 37
Season Home Date Away Date
1958-59 1-4 1958-10-18 3-8 1959-03-07 Div 3 (old)
1968-69 1-0 1969-04-28 0-1 1968-11-06 Div 3 (old)
1969-70 1-2 1969-10-04 0-1 1970-01-31 Div 3 (old)
1970-71 1-5 1970-09-04 0-0 1971-03-27 Div 3 (old)
1971-72 2-3 1971-12-18 1-3 1971-09-04 Div 3 (old)
1978-79 5-0 1979-03-12 4-1 1978-09-09 Div 3 (old)
1979-80 0-0 1979-12-21 0-0 1980-04-01 Div 3 (old)
1992-93 0-0 1992-08-15 2-3 1993-02-06 Div 2
1995-96 1-1 1995-10-14 0-1 1996-04-02 Div 3
1998-99 2-0 1998-08-15 0-3 1999-01-16 Div 3
1999-00 2-2 2000-05-06 1-2 1999-10-09 Div 3
2000-01 0-0 2001-01-06 0-2 2000-08-26 Div 3
2001-02 0-3 2001-10-20 0-1 2002-02-09 Div 3
2002-03 4-3 2002-08-10 1-3 2003-02-01 Div 2
2013-14 0-1 2013-10-26 1-1 2014-02-01 League Two
2014-15 1-0 2014-11-22 1-2 2015-04-11 League Two
2015-16 0-0 2015-09-26 0-3 2016-02-13 League Two
2016-17 (at Plymouth) 0-2 2016-08-20 League Two
1977-78 1-0 1978-01-07 (FA Cup 3rd round at Field Mill)
2016-17 1-2 2016-11-05 (FA Cup 1st round at One Call Stadium)
A stern and good test is on the hands. Come on Mansfield!