After gaining a very good 1-0 victory against fellow playoff hopefuls Stevenage at their place, the Stags have a chance of reaching one of the four playoff spots (although one is virtually reserved by Luton Town due to their goal difference) with two rounds of the regular season to spare.
But to make it, the Stags need to win and at least one of the other contenders to slip up in the final rounds. But that race will definitely go to the wire, unlike the automatic promotion one which was decided recently. One of the three automatically promoted sides, Portsmouth, are the Stags’ opponents in the final home game of the regular campaign.
A campaign which has seen Portsmouth win eight out of their ten latest fixtures, finally securing their League One return last Easter Monday at the Stags’ near-neighbours Notts County.
But the Stags seek revenge for the 4-0 drubbing at Portsmouth earlier this season in which was to be Adam Murray’s final game as Stags boss. Yet the scoreline was harsh as three goals fell in the final minutes at Fratton Park in a fixture which also saw two Stags red cards. It was also Portsmouth’s first-ever home victory against the Stags as all previous fixtures at Fratton Park had ended in draws.
And at One Call Stadium aka Field Mill, half of the previous fixtures have ended all square, including a 1-1 draw last season in a fixture in which Portsmouth missed a penalty early on.
Yet, only just eight years ago, Portsmouth played PL football and won the FA Cup by beating Cardiff, then played in Europe.
Since then, Portsmouth have endured lots of problems but on and off the field. Relegated from the PL in 2010, being the first PL side to have points deducted for being in administration, reached the FA Cup final losing 2-0 to Chelsea, then expelled from playing in Europe due to the above facts. Five seasons ago, Portsmouth once again got points deducted, which proved very costly. Without that, Portsmouth had stayed up in the Championship at Barnsley's expense. The problems worsened in League One. Players came and went. The effect: a FL record number of consecutive defeats and games without a victory contributed to Portsmouth's relegation to the basement division, a division Portsmouth had not been in for 33 seasons when called Division Four.
And who would seven years ago have thought that Portsmouth were due to face the Stags in an FL fixture instead of playing at grounds like Old Trafford, White Hart Lane or in Europe?
Pompey are now in the fourth consecutive League Two campaign, just like the Stags. And Pompey’s League Two stint is now almost over, and that could be for quite some time, as Portsmouth now are on the up and have sold out all their ticket allocation to Saturday’s game. So expect a very good crowd at One Call Stadium.
By the time of the Stags' first-ever visit to Fratton Park way back in 1977, Pompey also had endured problems.
Then, Portsmouth had been relegated from the FL second tier after fourteen consecutive seasons at that level. Then, they also had severe problems both on and off the field. In the end, Portsmouth only just avoided further relegation, one point above Reading, but had gone down if the three-point ruling had been in use in 1977.
That season, the Stags beat Portsmouth 2-0 at home in front of over 10000 on May 2, 1977. The following night, the Stags were definitely promoted due to Rotherham losing at home to Reading.
The sides also clashed in the League cup during the 2006-07 season. Then, the previewer wrote:
"Will Harry Redknapp, the current Portsmouth manager, leave Field Mill as a loser for a third side?"
He did so as a West Ham player in Round Five of the FA Cup on February 26, 1969 and as Southampton manager in the League Cup on September 20, 2005, when a reserve-filled Saints outfit succumbed to a Giles Coke strike in the second half.
Redknapp did not, as his then Portsmouth side scraped through to a 2-1 victory on September 19, 2006, in front of over 6000. More on that game in the match centre. But four of the then Stags players are still around in the FL for other sides: Mullins, Baptiste, Buxton and Dawson, while Richie Barker three seasons ago was Portsmouth manager, being appointed there after the sacking of Guy Whittingham, Pompey's highest FL scorer of all time during one season as he hit the net on 42 occasions in Division One during the 1992-93 season in which Pompey were very close to be promoted to the PL. They had to wait another decade…….
Of the players having appeared for both sides, Tom Curtis played 13 games in two seasons for Portsmouth before coming to the Stags after having had loan spells at Tranmere and Chester in between. Liam Lawrence played some 50 games for Pompey a few seasons ago, while John Lathan's second Stags spell around 1979-80 was preceded by a spell on the South Coast with 58 league games. Paul Hall, who played a few games for the Stags in the FA Trophy final season a few years ago, played for Portsmouth in the early 1990's after coming from another South coast club, Torquay. Lee Williamson, who played 146 FL games for the Stags, played 22 League One fixtures, three as sub, for Pompey a few seasons ago.
Played for both sides: Mark Blake, Sammy Chapman, George Clifford, George Cook, Harold Crawshaw, Tom Curtis, Reg Davies, Lindy Delapenha, Joseph Depledge, George Dexter, Kieron Freeman, Ernest Gadsden, Paul Hall, Joe Laidlaw, John Lathan, Liam Lawrence, Jim McCaffrey, Harold Methven, Harry Middleton, Harry Moore, Jason Rees, Abe Smith, Craig Westcarr, Lee Williamson.
Played for the Stags, later managed Portsmouth: Richie Barker.
Home P 4, W 1, D 2, L 1, GF 6, GA 5
Away P 5, W 0, D 4, L 1, GF 4, GA 8
1976-77 2-0 1977-05-02 2-2 1977-01-18 Div 3
2013-14 2-2 2013-08-24 1-1 2014-01-18 League Two
2014-15 1-2 2015-04-25 1-1 2014-10-11 League Two
2015-16 1-1 2016-03-19 0-0 2015-10-24 League Two
2016-17 (at Portsmouth) 0-4 2016-11-12 League Two
2006-07 1-2 2006-09-19 2nd round at Field Mill aka One Call Stadium
Expect a good game with a very good crowd this weekend. Come on Mansfield!