Languishing in ninth place but still just a point outside the playoffs, it’s been a turbulent troubled time for Mansfield Town in recent weeks with some flat performances returning just one win and five points in six games, their most recent a 1-1 home draw with Crewe where midfielder George Maris was sent off late on.
That at least ended a run of successive losses where they were beaten by Walsall and Barrow, going into Saturday’s trip to Sixfields promises a tough test at third place Northampton Town who are very much midst their own dip in form after back-to-back defeats themselves.
Mansfield will be looking to get back on the promotion saddle with a new look side, in coming in recent weeks have been Callum Johnson who made his debut against Crewe Alexandra, setting George Maris up for the opening goal. The 26-year-old right back joins from Ross County where he played Premier League football in Scotland.
The Stags have also signed Louis Reed from Swindon Town on an 18-month deal, a midfielder who Nigel Clough gave a debut to as a 16 year old, when in charge of Sheffield United, where Reed initially came through as an Academy prospect.
The midfield addition comes in response to a long term injury blow to Anthony Hartigan and George Lapslie leaving the club for Gillingham, Lapslie rejected a competitive new contract at the One Call to head to his native South-East where he’ll hope to get more game time at the Priestfield Stadium.
Playing over 100 games for the Stags and scoring 23 goals he’s been a favourite with fans but not as much with Nigel Clough, who opted largely to use Lapslie as a substitute which often frustrated the London born 25-year-old.
Another player leaving for Gillingham, and a huge loss for his manager who took advantage to play the man in various roles from centre back to centre forward, is Ollie Hawkins who went for an undisclosed fee to the bottom of the table team.
The Gills doing big business in recent weeks as they try and avoid the drop down into the National League.
A number of injuries haven’t helped in recent weeks as the likes of Riley Harbottle, Kieran Wallace, Lucas Akins and Ollie Clarke have all been sidelined recently. It’s not all doom and gloom though as at least another defensive signing has been brought into bolster the Stags recent leaking back line.
Alfie Kilgour joined on an 18-month deal from Bristol Rovers and played the final five minutes of Saturday’s draw with Crewe, whilst another player who could feature for the first time in a long time this weekend, is Danny Johnson, recalled from Walsall after his six month loan expired on Sunday. He is still in talks with the Saddlers on a possible permanent deal but should that not go through, he’ll be available for selection on Saturday, and with twelve goals already in League Two this season, wouldn’t be the worse player to throw into the mix.
*Main image @mansfieldtownfc Callum Johnson (right) joins with valuable defensive experience.