Stags Closing In On Promotion

Eight games remaining, four points clear at the top of the EFL League Two and Nigel Clough’s Mansfield Town side are aiming to not only gain promotion, but maybe even lift that league title (their first since winning the Conference/National League, in 2013) on the way to doing so.

Seven wins in their last ten outings, including a 5-1 dismantling of hosts Bradford City last time out, has kept the Stags’ noses out in front, more so with their nearest rivals, at one point or another, slipping up in recent weeks.

Former leaders Stockport County, who at one point looked like they may run away with the division, have not only been pegged back, but overtaken, after they registered just three wins in their last ten, including four draws in their last five. Both Wrexham and Milton Keynes Dons are just a point further back, in joint-third, as the run-in more than heats up.

In the win over Bradford, at Valley Parade, the Stags turned up the heat having, in recent outings, for three games in a row, conceded goals around the hour mark (against MK Dons, Swindon, and Tranmere Rovers respectively), regained some of their earlier form on putting their opponents to the sword.

Three goals inside ten, devastating, early first half minutes, effectively put the game to bed as Baily Cargill, Lucas Akins, and Davis Keillor-Dunn, all found the back of the net; for Akins and Keillor-Dunn, the pairing are well into double figures for Clough’s title-chasers this campaign, and with Will Swan also hitting the mark on the stroke of half-time, the goals are continuing to flow.

Keillor-Dunn’s goal involvement return this season has been impressive, the goal against the Bantams being his 19th, alongside 9 assists, throughout 2023-24, whilst Akins is on 14 (6 assists), and Swan 10 (5 assists), they firing the Stags to the top of the pile.

The second half of the game at Valley Parade would see the hosts pull a goal back with a little under twenty minutes remaining when County Durham-born Andy Cook, who made 50+ appearances for Mansfield in recent times, netted.

Clough’s charges restored their four-goal advantage in the closing minutes though, capping off a 5-1 win, Aaron Lewis firing home at the second attempt as they maintained their advantage at the top of the table, one that was helped by second placed Stockport dropping points when away to Crawley Town (1-1) on Monday night.

Mansfield Town – Christy Pym, Jordan Bowery, Aden Flint, Lewis Brunt, Baily Cargill (Stephen McLaughlin, 45), Hiram Boateng, Louis Reed, Davis Keillor-Dunn (George Maris, 45), Stephen Quinn (Aaron Lewis, 65), Will Swan (Tom Nichols, 77), Lucas Akins (James Gale, 82)

After thew victory over Bradford, Stags boss, Clough, applauded the fans, and wished them enjoyment for the remainder of the season, saying: “For two-and-a-half-thousand to turn up (today) and enjoy it, that’s the main thing.

“Enjoy the games, enjoy the results, enjoy being top of the league.

“We’ve got eight games to go and five of them are at the One Call, that’s the most important thing now.” Read full interview via here

Now, heading into the run-in, and the Stags gunning for the title, eight games stand between them and success, five of which are against opponents currently sitting in the top ten, including fellow promotion hopefuls, Wrexham and MK Dons, the Stags looking to avenge a recent 2-1 loss at home to the Dons.

With both Keillor-Dunn, and Akins, gunning for twenty goals apiece this campaign, the remaining eight games, of which five are at home, for Clough et al, are as follows –

Colchester United (23 March, H), Wrexham (29.3, A), Accrington Stanley (1.4, H), Crawley Town (6.4, H), Forest Green Rovers (9.4, H), MK Dons (13.4, A), Gillingham (20.4, H), Barrow (27.4, A)

Lowly Colchester United are next up for the Stags, they visiting the One Call Stadium this coming Saturday (KO 15:00) looking for what would only be their second win of the year having drawn seven and lost three in that time – the victory being a narrow, 1-0 success at Morecambe in late January; that will be followed by the visit of fellow promotion-chasers, Wrexham, at the end of March.

As for the Stags’ fellow promotion candidates, Stockport and MK Dons will face each other at the former on Saturday afternoon, whilst Wrexham are on the road at lowly Grimsby Town; eyes at the One Call without question being on the clash between second and third.

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @mansfieldtownfc Mansfield were brilliant on Saturday to beat Bradford 5-1.

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