It’s fair to say that neither of these teams have enjoyed the start to the season they would have wanted. Saturday’s hosts Mansfield Town F.C. lie in 19th place, despite being one of the pre-season favourites for promotion with many pundits following their 4th place finish last time out. The visitors (Plymouth Argyle F.C.), on the other hand sit five places above the Stags in 14th place, after succumbing to relegation from EFL League One last campaign. New manager Ryan Lowe brought a number of players in over the summer, including many from his previous club Bury after the Shakers were left in dire straits over their serious financial issues. Again, a lot of people tipped the Pilgrims to be promotion contenders this year, but for one reason or another they haven’t yet set the league alight. Can either team get themselves back on the right track at Field Mill this weekend?
Mansfield Town What To Watch
With 15 goals conceded in 10 league game so far, Mansfield don’t exactly possess the sternest defence in the division. However, manager John Dempster will be looking to his experienced players to step up and work their way to a third clean sheet of the season. One of these players he will certainly feel he can depend upon is Conrad Logan. The 33-year-old goalkeeper has been with the club since 2017 and has been a regular fixture in the team ever since. Despite Mansfield’s loss to Newport County A.F.C. in the play-offs last season, the keeper produced a string of saves to keep his team in the tie. Dempster will be hoping Logan can replicate this if called into action against Plymouth.
One player Dempster brought in to add a bit of quality to the squad was loanee Conor Shaughnessy who has been a regular in the team since signing for the rest of the season in early September. Dempster has chosen to utilise Shaughnessy in midfield, although the youngster can also play in central defence. With this variety to his game, Shaughnessy will be expected to provide a level of protection in the midfield, helping his defence tighten up a little. Mansfield fans will be hoping he can restrict the opposition to very few chances over the full 90 minutes.
Mansfield’s top scorer by some way so far this season has been striker Danny Rose. The 25-year-old frontman has netted seven times this campaign while his nearest challengers in the team only have two. Rose moved to Mansfield in 2016 following a two-year spell with Bury F.C.. After a fairly disappointing goal return last year, Rose has found his form again this year and if Mansfield are going to score their way out of the trouble they find themselves in, Rose will be a big part of that.
Plymouth Argyle What To Watch
The Pilgrims’ defence isn’t quite as leaky as their hosts’, but it isn’t far off having only conceded two fewer goals in their 10 league games. However, this isn’t due in the most part to the quality of their goalkeeper. Alex Palmer was signed on a season-long loan in July and has put in multiple eye-catching performance in his short spell with Plymouth already. If Palmer can keep playing well over the entire season, his parent club West Bromwich Albion F.C. may be more inclined to give him a run in the first team.
Plymouth have midfield options aplenty. Furthermore, the player I would like to single out is Antoni Sarcevic. The central player has been with the club for two and a half years after many spells with different lower league clubs and without being a regular goal-scorer, fans can usually expect a fairly solid performance from the Mancunian. However, the Pilgrims may need a bigger performance from Sarcevic if they are to overcome their hosts on Saturday.
Up front Plymouth have the services of Dominic Telford available to them. Telford is one of manager Ryan Lowe’s signings from previous club Bury. However, this particular signing has not yet paid off with inly two goals to his name so far this season. His manager obviously sees potential in him though as his games to goals ratio at Bury last season was not much to be overawed by either. Lowe, Telford and the Plymouth fans will be hoping he can show exactly the performance he is capable of against Mansfield.
Plymouth Argyle vs Mansfield Town Prediction
Neither set of fans will be too happy if they carry on their slow starts to the season and fail to pick up a victory here. Plymouth especially have really underperformed this season and Ryan Lowe may not be given much more time in the job if the results don’t drastically improve sooner rather than later. That said, I do think there is enough potential in this Plymouth squad to turn their fortunes around and therefore, I think they must just have enough to beat their hosts this weekend.
Prediction: Plymouth Argyle - 2 Mansfield Town - 1