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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wrexham vs Mansfield Town

It'll be a very good Friday for one of these teams

28 March 2024

What a huge game to have at this point of the season. With the scrap for an automatic promotion spot still involving at least 6 teams, and the title race similarly wide open, the fixture lists serves up a clash between the league leaders and a 3rd-placed side who would go level with a win. The stakes are enormous, and a winner would take a massive stride towards League One.


Last Saturday's dominant performance at Grimsby was impressive, but came at the cost of an injury to Jacob Mendy. While he's not expected to be out for long, this match probably comes too early for him, so Wrexham will need to make a change.

Callum McFadzean came through his first league appearance of the season with distinction, and is an obvious replacement, but James McClean is also available after his 2-match suspension.

A magnificent performance at Blundell Park by the midfield trio of Andy Cannon, Tom O'Connor and Elliot Lee means Phil Parkinson might decide to return McClean to his wing-back position.

Good news for Parkinson is the anticipated availability of Ryan Barnett. He was felled by a poor challenge in the Tranmere game, and initial fears were that his season might have been brought to a premature end.

However, scans of the injury came back clear, so he is expected to be available against Mansfield. However, in his absence Luke Bolton impressed at Grimsby, so Barnett's return is no foregone conclusion.




From the start of the season Mansfield have been serious title contenders. Their confident possession-based style of play under Nigel Clough has made them a formidable proposition, and they boast the best away record in the division. Nobody else has managed 10 wins on the road, or scored more goals.

However, like all the promotion-chasing sides, 2024 has been inconsistent. From the heights of scoring nine goals against Harrogate and putting five past Salford and Bradford to the depths of dropping 10 points out of 24 at home, The Stags have threatened to make a decisive move for the title, only to hit an obstacle. Their two home losses in 2024 have come against fellow promotion centenders too.

Last Saturday was frustrating, as they drew at home to struggling Colchester, who led for 50 minutes. United's spoiling tactics frustrated Mansfield, and they could have emerged with all three points, as Christy Pym had to turn a shot onto the post in the closing moments.

Speaking to the Mansfield Chad, Clough preferred to see it as a point gained rather than two dropped. In the end we're satisfied with a point with the way the game went and the conditions.

“It was one of those games that, having given a soft goal away early on, we could have easily lost that 1-0. Even at the end we could have lost 2-1 with the corners and set plays they had.

The result keeps our little run going. We haven’t had enough draws of late, those defeats should’ve been draws. So we go to Wrexham next week in better heart than we would’ve done had we lost the game.

- Nigel Clough

“We’re still top of the league, let the others battle it out this afternoon and it could be a very valuable point come the end of the season.

“We did not start the game anyway near as well as we would have liked and we gave Colchester too much encouragement and a goal as well. “We had enough situations and chances today but couldn’t quite get more than the equaliser. “They would’ve been happy with a 0-0 and a point today. You give them 1-0 and it gives them that added incentive.

“We kept plugging away and I thought we put some good crosses in today. The equaliser in the end has come from a scrappy goal from a set play.

It was one of those games where Christy Pym is not going to be involved a lot. He got a little bit fortunate with the one he tipped onto the post, I think it bobbled just in front of him but he kept it out. Late on, he came and dealt with a couple of corners superbly.

“I certainly think the conditions played a major role. We saw yesterday it was going to be blustery today. When you do try and get it down and play it makes it very difficult, especially when it’s blowing straight down the pitch as it was today. It doesn’t make for the best game.”

A major threat in the Mansfield ranks who Wrexham will be familiar with is Davis Keillor-Dunn. His quality was apparent during a brief spell at the SToK Cae Ras five seasons ago, particularly when he linked up with Dan Jarvis in Dean Keates' box midfield. His magnificent solo goal at Bromley was seen as a taste of what was to come, but Keillor-Dunn turned down a contract offer that summer and moved. Now he spearheads Town's efforts to go up, and has 19 goals to his credit so far this season.

That's not enough for some people though: as he explained to BBC Nottingham, his harshest judges are closer to home!

"My mum at the start of the season was saying 'I want you to get 30 goals' so look, there is no pressure there. I really just try to get to double figures with goals and assists, chipping in with my own little collection."

" I keep thinking 'oh it would be nice to get this many', and then I get to that mark and think 'I'm not happy with that'.The key is not getting comfortable with what you are getting and always wanting more."

He wasn't concerned to see someone else get the crucial goal last Satuirday though, as it's the result that counts:

"That is the biggest thing, everyone has to chip in and we are really good at that. The main thing is having boys coming from all over the pitch popping up with a goal."


imagej04z.pngimagee6nz.pngimage20oc4.png* The smallest crowd in a Mansfield "home" game was 1,052 for a League Cup game in August 2000 which was nominally a home game for Mansfield but actually took place at Notts County.

Mansfield’s last game at the SToK Cae Ras came in the season they won the National League and returned to the EFL. They were relegated with us, but bounced back a full 11 years before we finally got back into the fourth tier.

It was a momentous match though: they went into the game in imperious form, having won their previous 12 league matches, meaning a Stags victory would break the National League record. Matt Green put them ahead after the break, but Wrexham fought back to clinch a fine win. Dean Keates equalised from a free kick and Danny Wright scored the winner following some fine work by Glen Little.

That was the sixth time Mansfield came to North Wales during our years in the National League, and we generally did well, winning four and losing once.

In 2008 the first ever match in the F.A. Trophy for either side saw Jon Brown and Ashley Westwood score the goals which earned us a 2-1 victory, and the league double was completed the following April with a 2-0 win thanks to Obi Anoruo and Andrew Crofts. 

We did the league double the following season too, with Wes Baynes and Andy Mangan scoring in another 2-1 win. In the return match the only goal of the game was scored by Mark Jones. Sadly, that would turn out to be his last goal in a Wrexham shirt.

The following season saw Marvin Andrews earn a point at a snowy SToK Cae Ras, but in September 2011 the Stags finally managed their first win in 8 attempts to spoil Andy Morrell's first home game as Wrexham manager.

Lee Fowler equalised with a fine goal, but we slipped to a 3-1 defeat. The return game wouild be a memorably miserable experience for Wrexham as we fell to a 2-0 defeat with the second goal scored by Mansfield goalkeeper Alan Marriott!

We haven’t lost at home in the league to Mansfield since 1986, when Nick Hencher’s goal couldn’t prevent as suffering a 2-1 defeat. We have lost a cup tie to them at The Racecourse since then though, and in pretty conclusive circumstances!

Having won the first leg of a League Cup first round tie 1-0, Brian Flynn’s side would have been confident that they could complete the job back in September 2000, but they capitulated spectacularly and lost 3-0 to The Stags, a result which is our worst against them on home ground.

We’d have to do something special on Friday to beat our best ever result against The Stags, as we’ve twice come out 5-0 winners against them.

Back in September 1933 Tommy Bamford got a hat trick against Mansfield, with Matthew Lawrence scoring the others, and twenty-eight years later we walloped them in our first home match of the 1961-2 campaign, Stan Bennion weighing in with two and the others being scored by Wyn Davies, Micky Metcalf and an unfortunate Mansfield defender.

This will be the third time the sides have met this season, but that's nothing compared to the 1975-6 season, when we couldn't stop bumping into each other, facing each other six times at three different venues!

The league games went in our favour, winning at home and drawing away, but The Stags triumphed in both the F.A. and League Cups, although they required a second replay at Villa Park to progress in the former competition.


Accrington Stanley v Morecambe
AFC Wimbledon v Harrogate Town
Barrow v Grimsby Town
Bradford City v Tranmere Rovers
Colchester United v Newport County
Crawley Town v Doncaster Rovers
Forest Green Rovers v Stockport County
Gillingham v Crewe Alexandra
Milton Keynes Dons v Walsall
Salford City v Sutton United
Swindon Town v Notts County
The side which sits between Wrexham and Mansfield, Stockport County, have a trip to relegation-threatened Forest Green Rovers. Rovers are fighting for their lives in a terrific scrap for survival, with the bottom three separated by just one point. Colchester have games in hand and a home game against Newport County, while resurgent Sutton travel to Salford.
Milton Keynes Dons against Walsall is a fascinating match-up, with the home side 3 points off the top three and The Saddlers 3 points off the play-offs. The duo have been in fine form in 2024 and share attacking approaches which make this an unpredictable fixture. Crewe make the long trip to Gillingham, while Barrow will be confident going into a home game against Grimsby.
Crawley's excellent recent form has made them the latest team to make it into 7th position: they will hope to build on their 4-game unbeaten streak at home to Doncaster.


Jack Marriott's 425th career game.

Jacob Mendy's 200th career appearance.

Jordan Davies' 125th league match.

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Match Reports

REPORT | Wrexham AFC 2-0 Mansfield Town

Red Dragons claim vital win in battle for promotion

29 March 2024

Wrexham AFC gave their promotion hopes a massive boost, as Paul Mullin’s double earned a 2-0 victory over promotion rivals Mansfield Town at the STōK Cae Ras.

Mullin opened the scoring after 32 minutes, as a defensive mix-up from the Stags allowed Wrexham’s number ten to break the deadlock with a well-timed finish at the back post.

The forward then wrapped up victory from the spot in the 68th minute, as Mullin smashed home to record his 99th goal for the Club.

On a day where Stockport moved back to the summit of Sky Bet League Two, Wrexham’s victory moves them level on points with the Stags and sets up a thrilling final six league matches of the 2023/24 campaign.

Phil Parkinson named one change to the side that claimed a 3-1 win over Grimsby last weekend, as James McClean returned from suspension and replaced Jacob Mendy, who picked up an injury at Blundell Park.

As expected, given the magnitude of the match, both teams sternly contested the opening stages at an impressive intensity in front of the Sky cameras.

While both sides battled away swiftly, James McClean, who had only just returned from suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards this season, was booked in the 3rd minute.

Challenges flew in swiftly in North Wales, with neither Wrexham nor Mansfield wanting to give their opponents any chance to grow into the fixture.

Elliot Lee fired an early warning in the opening stages, as he attempted an audacious bicycle-kick which was caught by Christy Pym in the fifth minute.

The first half was largely affected by the ever-changing conditions at the SToK Cae Ras, often going from blistering sunlight to torrential rain and everything in-between, before the weather eventually settled.

Nigel Clough’s side almost broke the deadlock after 27 minutes, and they might’ve succeeded, had it not been for Max Cleworth’s last-minute challenge on Will Swan to deny the forward from firing a close-range effort at Arthur Okonkwo.

While Mansfield provided a stern test in the opening half hour, it was inevitable that Wrexham talisman Paul Mullin broke the deadlock in a game of such importance in the race for promotion.

Andy Cannon shifted forwards down the right-flank, latching onto a perfectly weighted through pass, before firing a low cross into Mansfield’s box with 32 minutes played.

It seemed that Lewis Brunt was in an ample position to clear the effort, but he failed to connect with the cross just like his captain Aden Flint.  

That failure left Mullin to calmly fire first-time into the bottom corner, sparking celebrations in front of the Temporary Kop Fourth Wall.

Three minutes were added on prior to the interval, but neither side could add any further goals at the STōK Cae Ras prior to half time.

Mansfield made a double substitution at the break, as the Stags looked to recover from Mullin’s first-half blow.

The Stags had a goal disallowed in the 61st minute, as Davis Keillor-Dunn looked to have rounded Okonkwo and fired into the net – but the forward had kicked the ball out of the Wrexham keeper’s hands in the build-up.

Wrexham then took the initiative and found a crucial second goal just six minutes later, giving Parkinson’s side much needed breathing space in the fixture.

Luke Bolton caused the opposition a plethora of issues down the right-flank, and he was brought down by Jordan Bowery in the Mansfield box.

After much deliberation, Lewis Smith pointed to the spot, much to the delight of the Wrexham faithful.

Mullin stepped up to take the spot-kick, and after a brief pause to compose himself, the striker smashed the ball into the roof of the net, leaving Christy Pym with no chance as he doubled the Red Dragons’ advantage.

Wrexham almost extended their lead to three goals in the 78th minute, as an outstretched Steven Fletcher managed to get on the end of a brilliant ball towards the back post, but he couldn’t quite get his effort under control and on target.

The fourth official indicated another five minutes to be added, but it didn’t matter, as a stern effort from both ends of the pitch gave Wrexham a clean sheet to go with victory - which could be crucial come the end of the 2023/24 Sky Bet League Two campaign.

Wrexham AFC: Okonkwo (GK), Cleworth, O'Connell, Boyle, Bolton (Barnett 74’), O'Connor, Cannon, Lee (Evans 88’), McClean, Mullin (C) (Marriott 88’), Palmer (Fletcher 74’).

Subs not used: Howard, McFadzean, Dalby.

Mansfield Town: Pym, Hewitt (McLaughlin 8’), Flint (C), Brunt (Nichols 46’), Bowery, Reed, Lewis, Clarke (Maris 68’), Keillor-Dunn (Boateng 68’), Akins, Swan (Gale 46’).

Subs not used: Flinders, Quinn.

Match Attendance: 12,494 (1,147 Away)


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