After the frustrating and disappointing home defeat against Forest Green last Saturday, which came about due to poor defending and very poor usage of injury-time by the officials (not for the first time in preview history, the Bristol City home game in 2002 springs to mind as well), the Stags now take on the longest away trip this season. This is to a place well-known to the previewer, namely Plymouth. Yet the Pilgrims are one of the sides the Stags have had most problems against in their entire League history.
Half of the Stags’ EFL victories against the Pilgrims have been high-scoring ones.
The biggest of those 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, Mick Saxby 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.
In the first game of the 2002-03 season after the sides had been promoted together, the Stags won at headquarters to a 4-3 scoreline, one which did not reflect that game at all, also one which showed that the Stags should and could have stayed up at current League One level then.
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 goals in his entire 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.
The game at Mansfield on November 22, 2014, was the first one since the departure of Paul Cox (who now is manager of Kettering). 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.
This season, the Stags have fared below expectations, mostly at home but decent on the road. The start of the Plymouth campaign was also below expectations but after their 1-0 victory at One Call last September, the Pilgrims have picked up and are now inside the playoff zone, having crucially beaten sides below the Stags in the table during the last month, most importantly netting a 96th minute winner at Home Park against Stevenage just before the turn of the year. Most recently, the long trip to Carlisle last Saturday was rewarded with a convincing 3-0 victory to the Pilgrims.
Should be very nice for the Stags to get something from one of their bogey grounds of all time. Come on Mansfield!
Played for both sides: Paul Anderson, 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, Gethin Jones, Adrian Littlejohn, Alex MacDonald, George Poyser, David Prentice, Mark Sale, James Spencer, 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 up 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 19, W 5, D 6, L 8. GF 21, GA 27
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 0-2 2017-03-11 0-2 2016-08-20 League Two
2019-20 0-1 2019-09-28 (at Mansfield) 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)