After the frustrating, mildly printed, 0-2 home defeat against Leyton Orient on Good Friday after a poor showing, the Stags now take the long trip to Devon and to a ground where the Stags have much more than held their own in (and just before) preview history. The ground in aquestion is St James’ Park, but not the one at Newcastle, where the Stags played in the FA Cup fifteen years ago. On Easter Monday, the venue is the St James Park at Exeter.
And the Devon side are one out of two sides continuously in League Two since the Stags and Newport County were promoted in 2013, the Stags have played every season. The other are Morecambe.
And for a long time, Exeter (and Morecambe) had long-serving bosses. While Morecambe now are without Jim Bentley, Exeter are without Paul Tisdale, who last season was axed by MK Dons, and this season by Bristol Rovers. Meanwhile, Exeter will in Nigel Clough face the seventh Stags boss since the goal-less home draw between the Stags in their home come-back EFL fixture in August 2013. Then, Paul Cox bossed the Stags. The others: Adam Murray, Steve Evans, Dave Flitcroft and John Dempster, Graham Coughlan.
Incredibly enough, the 4-1 victory at Exeter in March 2019 was the Stags’ fifth out of seven at St. James’ Park in Devon since the Stags returned to League Two in 2013, and also the joint-biggest one.
Iincredible as well is the fact that, the Stags haven’t had without a home victory against Exeter for twenty-odd years as the Grecians won by a 2-1 scoreline that same 2018-19 campaign, which proved to be the Stags’ final League Two defeat in the calendar year of 2018. Earlier this season, Exeter won again to a 2-1 scoreline at One Call, their winner netted late.
The home run without a victory against Exeter is now on eleven games, four draws and seven odd-goal defeats since a 3-2 victory on March 21, 1998. More incredible is that the Stags have won six out of their last eight games at Exeter’s St. James’ Park. And the first of those, a 1-0 due to an early Liam Lawrence strike, was achieved a few weeks before previewing started in early 2002. Yet, the 1-0 victory in Devon on February 17, 2018, proved to be the final one for Steve Evans as Stags boss.
Against no other current EFL side which the Stags have played ten home games or more, the Stags have had a longer winless home run.
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.
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.
A recent classic between the sides was the Stags’ 3-2 victory at the very end of the 2015-16 season with fabulous goals for both sides. Exeter goalie then: Bobby Olejnik. Craig Woodman also played in that game, and from the then Stags line-up, only Mal Benning is still at the Stags as a player and has now started over 200 League fixtures for the Stags and a further 13 as sub, a fantastic achievement in today’s football. Meanwhile, Craig Woodman has just left Exeter and his current club is reported to be Tiverton Town FC in the Southern League.
Exeter's best FL position is second in the old division 3 (S) in 1932-33, four points behind Brentford.
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 twelve 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. And the Stags’ 3-2 victory at Exeter, in April 2016, was full of fabulous goals for both sides.
In the FA Cup, Exeter have played a few current and recent 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 quarter-finals 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. More recently, 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.
While the Stags haven’t won since the 3-1 mauling of Cheltenham a few weeks ago, Exeter have lost four out of their last five EFL fixture, including a 0-1 home reverse against Cheltenham a few days after the Robins’ defeat at One Call. Will Exeter feature in the playoffs once again? Remains to be seen. Think the Stags will steer well out of trouble at the other end unless things go terrible wrong in the run-in. The goal difference compared to the ones of Southend and Grimsby is definitely worth an extra point. A crunch game elsewhere on Easter Monday is the one between Colchester and Barrow, while Grimsby and Southend face on paper stern opposition in form of Cheltenham at home for Grimsby and Morecambe away (on Tuesday night) for Southend.
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, played for Exeter up to last season (see more above). A few seasons ago, Bobby Olejnik, now retired after starring in a couple of League games for the Stags, was an unused sub for Exeter in the corresponding 2015-16 home fixture. Another goalie, Lenny Pidgeley, which the Stags had on loan a few seasons ago, played a handful games for Exeter during their 2011-12 League One relegation campaign.
Craig Woodman did play in most of the Stags v Exeter clashes since the Stags’ FL return in 2013 and managed over 200 EFL games for the Devon Club (and last season’s game at Exeter as well). Last season, Exeter lost the playoff final against Northampton, in fact their third playoff final loss out of three in the last four EFL campaigns. Jamie Reid played for Exeter against the Stags in the EFL home comeback fixture way back in August 2013, while other current connections are Nicky Ajose (out injured) and Alex Fisher.
Played for both sides: Nicky Ajose, Shayne Bradley, Jamie Campbell, Jon Challinor, Gary Chapman, Horace Clifford, Alan Crawford, Alex Fisher, Jonathan Fortune, George Foster, Ray Harford, Alex Jeannin, Martin Ling, John Mitten, Trevor Morgan, Stuart Naylor, Bobby Olejnik, Gordon Owen, Fred Parnell, Jacob Parsons, Ginger Phoenix, Lenny Pidgeley, George Pilkington, Jason Rees, Jamie Reid, 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 33, W 10, D 11, L 12, GF 45, GA 44
Away stats: P 33, W 12, D 7, L 14, GF 35, GA 42
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 1-2 2017-04-01 0-2 2016-12-17 League Two
2017-18 1-1 2017-10-28 1-0 2018-02-17 League Two
2018-19 1-2 2018-09-15 4-1 2019-03-30 League Two
2019-20 not played 0-1 2019-08-31 League Two
2020-21 1-2 2020-09-26 at One Call League Two
1961-62 5-2 1961-09-11 First round at Field Mill aka One Call Stadium
About time to get back on the points-winning trail now. Come on Mansfield!
Stockholm, July 4, 2008, 15.00 GMT. Good news came, K.H. gone. March 1, 2012. Ground purchased.