Crunch time. The moment of truth. The final month of the current League Two campaign will be a deciding one for several sides at different ends of the League Two table.
For the Stags and Exeter, it will be a crunch month around the playoff zone as things stand by the time of Stagsnet previewing with the Grecians currently occupying the final playoff position and the Stags just below with just one point separating tomorrow’s combattans at One Call Stadium.
And if the Stags win, they will leapfrog Exeter in the playoff race in which just five points separate Stevenage in fourth position and Colchester in tenth.
Exeter surged up the table from bottom spot in mid-November up to the playoff one within the space of about two months thanks to ten wins and two draws in twelve games unbeaten, starting at crisis club Leyton Orient (who just appointed their fifth manager during this season), and ending with a 4-0 home victory against Crewe in the first meeting between those sides for 25 years. During that golden Exeter spell, they crushed their nil in the home wins column by beating the Stags 2-0 just before last Christmas. Revenge mission possible…….
Unlike above-mentioned Leyton Orient, Exeter have had the same manager since 2006, Alex Tisdale. See more below on his managerial exploits.
When Tisdale was appointed in 2006, Exeter had completed the third of five seasons outside the FL (Doncaster, Stags, Luton are other sides returning after a five-year-exile). He oversaw a playoff final defeat against Morecambe in 2007, Exeter’s return to the FL the following campaign, then going straight through to League One for three seasons which also meant that sides like Southampton and Norwich had to travel to another St. James’ Park than they do now. Other sides which had to travel to Exeter’s St James’ Park instead to the one at Newcastle (where the Stags played in the FA Cup third round in 2006) included Leeds and Charlton.
The Exeter home victory last December was in fact the first home victory in any fixture between the sides during this century.
Meanwhile, Exeter haven’t lost at Mansfield for nineteen years, four wins and three draws since the latest Stags home victory in March 1998.
Last weekend, Exeter staged one of the greatest League Two comebacks of all time (including a Stags one from 1-3 down to winning 4-3 at home to Hartlepool within the final seven minutes in 2000). But the Exeter one was maybe even more remarkable than the one by the Stags. 3-0 down at St James Park against Yeovil with two minutes of normal time remaining, yet salvaging a 3-3 draw in the second minute of injury time, while the Stags after an excellent first half attacking display won 3-1 at Morecambe.
Exeter, one of now two Devon FL clubs, were a founder member of the FL third tier way back in 1920, then were ever-present in the old division 3 (S) during its existence up to 1957-58, and were therefore one of the sides that faced the Stags in their first-ever FL season in 1931, and the Grecians' first-ever visit to Mansfield on December 5, 1931 ended in a Stags 3-1 victory, thanks to two goals from Johnson and one from Featherby. This was to be the first out of so far ten Stags home victories against Exeter, the latest being a 3-2 on March 21, 1998. In that fixture, Ford scored twice and Peters once.
Most of the games between the Stags and Exeter have been close ones. The proof: Only once has there been a more than a two-goal margin between the sides at Mansfield. This happened in an August 26, 1972 Field Mill fixture which the Stags won 3-0 thanks to two strikes from Sam Ellis, one from the spot, and one from McCaffrey. Six of the Stags wins have been odd-goal ones, compared to all but two (the first a 2-0 on September 15, 1990) for Exeter. Add to that ten drawn games.
The sides had met before previewing started and each won their away game 1-0. Just before Christmas 2001, Exeter won 1-0 at Mansfield, and a month later, an early Liam Lawrence header sealed the Stags win at St James' Park where the Stags now have won on their last four visits to the Exeter one out of two FL grounds with that name (the other one, of course, is at Newcastle where the Stags played in the FA Cup a decade ago).
Exeter's best FL position is second in the old division 3 (S) in 1932-33, four points behind Brentford. In the current League One, Exeter finished eighth just a few seasons ago in a three-season-spell which saw sides like Southampton, Norwich and Leeds travelling to another St James' Park than being used to (these clubs normally travel to the one at Newcastle). Exeter also finished eighth in the old Division Three in 1979-80. The Grecians are now in their fifth League Two season following relegation in 2012.
When playing together in the Southern section of the third level, the Stags travelled to Exeter four times and lost all games without even scoring. The Stags had to wait until September 3, 1960, to score their first goals and gain their first-ever points at Exeter. A brace from Wragg was enough to seal a 2-0 victory. Some of our now ten away victories at Exeter's St James' Park have been achieved in promotion seasons, one in January 2002 thanks to an early Liam Lawrence header. In our first-ever promotion season, the Stags' first away game was at Exeter. On August 22, 1962, Ken Wagstaff scored all the Stags goals in the Stags' so far highest away win at Exeter, a convincing 3-0 scoreline.
But the 1-0 win at Exeter in January 2002 was not our first 1-0 win there in a promotion season. On September 7, 1974, Terry Eccles scored the only goal at Exeter, and on February 8, 1986, Kevin Kent did the same. That one was in a spell of nine Stags games of which eight were won. And when the Stags almost gained promotion from the third level in 1964-65, our first away three-pointer came at Exeter. On September 5, 1964, the Stags won at Exeter to a 3-2 scoreline thanks to two goals from James Cooper (anyone remember him?) and one from Brian Hall. This was also the Stags' first away victory that season.
Out of the last seventeen games between the sides at Mansfield, nine have been drawn. So the stats are quite even. And the Stags have won just one of their last thirteen home games against Exeter, six draws and six defeats, the last one to a 2-0 scoreline last campaign.
In the FA Cup, Exeter have played a few current PL sides over the years. Their best run came in 1931, when Sunderland needed a replay to progress from the quarter-finals. Exactly 50 years later, Exeter reached the QF again. On the way, Exeter travelled to the St James' Park at Newcastle and managed a 1-1 draw. Exeter then won the replay convincingly 4-0 at their St James’ Park seeing headlines like Newcastle crashing out at St James' Park, but not their own……. In the sixth round, Tottenham won 2-0 at home.
As recently during Exeter's five-year BSP spell in 2005, the Grecians made FA Cup headlines by travelling to Old Trafford in the third round and holding Manchester United to a goal-less draw! A completely different M.U. line-up then won the replay 2-0 at Exeter. Last season, Exeter held Liverpool to a 2-2 home third round draw before going out at Anfield.
In the past, there has also been managerial connections between the Stags and Exeter. The name: Jock Basford. He bossed in Devon during most of the 1965-66 Division Three relegation season, and then almost the whole of the 1966-67 Division Four season before being youth boss at Charlton. From The Valley, Basford travelled north and became Stags boss in July 1970, was so until November 1971 when he was axed following a string of poor results, notably loads of home games without even scoring.
Quite a few players have appeared for both sides. The Exeter goalie in the 2001-02 FL games against the Stags, Arjan van Heusden, played for the Stags in 2002-03. That same season, George Pilkington, who a few seasons ago played two Stags FL games and also in the 8-1 FA Cup mauling of St Albans away, also loaned out to Forest Green (a side the Stags and Exeter met in all their five BSP seasons apiece) before moving on to Macclesfield, played his first league games for Exeter……… while Craig Woodman, eight Stags games in the 2004-05 season, is still playing for Exeter but is most likely not featuring tomorrow due to injury.
Played for both sides: Shayne Bradley, Jamie Campbell, Jon Challinor, Gary Chapman, Horace Clifford, Alan Crawford, Jonathan Fortune, George Foster, Ray Harford, Alex Jeannin, Martin Ling, John Mitten, Trevor Morgan, Stuart Naylor, Gordon Owen, Fred Parnell, Jacob Parsons, Ginger Phoenix, George Pilkington, Jason Rees, Neil Richardson, Andy Roscoe, Darren Rowbotham, John Rowlands, George Stimpson, Stuart Storer, Arjan van Heusden, Craig Woodman.
Managed both sides: Jock Basford.
Home stats: P 29, W 10, D 10, L 9, GF 41, GA 37
Away stats: P 30, W 10, D 7, L 13, GF 30, GA 40
Season Home Date Away Date
1931-32 3-1 1931-12-05 0-3 1932-04-16 Div 3 (S)
1937-38 2-3 1938-02-26 0-4 1937-10-16 Div 3 (S)
1938-39 4-2 1939-05-06 0-2 1938-09-07 Div 3 (S)
1946-47 1-0 1946-12-21 0-1 1947-04-26 Div 3 (S)
1960-61 2-3 1961-01-14 2-0 1960-09-03 Div 4 (old)
1961-62 3-1 1961-08-19 1-2 1961-12-16 Div 4 (old)
1962-63 1-0 1962-08-27 3-0 1962-08-22 Div 4 (old)
1964-65 2-1 1965-01-02 3-2 1964-09-05 Div 3 (old)
1965-66 0-0 1965-09-25 2-2 1966-03-19 Div 3 (old)
1972-73 3-0 1972-08-26 2-4 1973-01-06 Div 4 (old)
1973-74 3-3 1974-03-18 1-1 1974-03-09 Div 4 (old)
1974-75 3-2 1975-03-21 1-0 1974-09-07 Div 4 (old)
1978-79 1-1 1979-03-26 0-0 1978-08-19 Div 3 (old)
1979-80 0-1 1979-12-29 1-2 1979-08-25 Div 3 (old)
1984-85 2-2 1985-04-03 0-0 1984-10-03 Div 4 (old)
1985-86 2-1 1985-10-19 1-0 1986-02-08 Div 4 (old)
1990-91 0-2 1990-09-15 0-2 1991-01-26 Div 3 (old)
1992-93 0-0 1993-04-24 0-2 1992-10-17 Div 2
1994-95 1-1 1994-09-24 3-2 1995-03-04 Div 3
1995-96 1-1 1996-01-06 2-2 1996-02-13 Div 3
1996-97 0-1 1996-08-17 0-0 1997-03-29 Div 3
1997-98 3-2 1998-03-21 0-1 1997-11-18 Div 3
1998-99 0-1 1999-04-27 1-2 1998-10-03 Div 3
1999-00 1-1 2000-02-04 0-1 1999-08-30 Div 3
2000-01 1-1 2001-02-02 0-0 2000-09-02 Div 3
2001-02 0-1 2001-12-21 1-0 2002-01-22 Div 3
2013-14 0-0 2013-08-10 1-0 2014-01-04 League Two
2014-15 2-3 2015-01-17 2-1 2014-09-06 League Two
2015-16 0-2 2015-11-24 3-2 2016-04-19 League Two
2016-17 (at Exeter) 0-2 2016-12-17 League Two
1961-62 5-2 1961-09-11 First round at Field Mill aka One Call Stadium
A very good test is on the cards. Come on Mansfield!
Stockholm, July 4, 2008, 15.00 GMT. Good news came, K.H. gone. March 1, 2012. Ground purchased.