Match preview: Mansfield Town v Oldham Athletic

Mansfield Town v Crewe Alexander.
New signing Ben Whiteman in first half action.
Mansfield Town v Crewe Alexander. New signing Ben Whiteman in first half action.

Mansfield Town could deliver a shock victory in tomorrow night’s Checkatrade Trophy match-up with Oldham Athletic, with Steve Evans’ men going in to the game high on confidence.

Going in to the tie having collected seven points from three games, and Oldham having earned only one point over their last three, the Stags have every reason to believe they can knock the team from the division above out of the competition.

The team which Evans would have joined over the summer but for the fact “something didn’t feel right”, are no strangers to being beaten by lower league opposition having been eliminated from the FA Cup by non-league Lincoln City in December.

The Latics have also found life difficult in the league so far this term, sitting bottom of the table in League One and in dire need of new blood within their ranks.

Oldham however have made no new January additions due to the club being placed under a transfer embargo over unpaid ticket money.

It’s no secret where Oldham are having problems on the pitch, netting only 12 goals in 24 league games they are the lowest scoring side out of the 92 Football League teams.

Town however also have history to beat tomorrow night having not recorded a victory against the Latics since 1978, although having spent the majority of the time since in separate divisions, the Stags have lost six of the last nine games with Oldham, drawing three.

Oldham also, although struggling in the league, have put on some impressive displays in the Checkatrade Trophy beating Walsall 3-1 away from home in the previous round and on their day can be a match for any team having proved this by beating the (at the time) League One leaders Scunthorpe United 2-0 in October.

Both teams will most likely be fielding rotated first-team sides for the fixture and it should be a closely contested tie.

KEY BATTLE: MATT GREEN V CONNOR RIPLEY

On-loan Middlesbrough shot-stopper Ripley has been heavily relied upon by Oldham so far this season, being a vital player in most games.

The ‘keeper’s heroics have kept his side in many ties over the season so far with key saves and has reportedly been under surveillance as a January target from some Championship sides.

If Mansfield are to progress then top-scorer Green will have to stay sharp to find a way past the man between the sticks.

OLDHAM PLAYER TO WATCH: RYAN FLYNN

When on his game the tricky midfielder can dictate the play and give his side some real attacking intent.

The former Sheffield United man is usually a key figure in any attacking Oldham move and always looks to drive the team forward where he can.

Flynn can play anywhere across midfield and has had a vital part in most of Oldham’s wins so far this season.

OPPOSITION MANAGER: STEPHEN ROBINSON

Robinson has had a baptism of fire going in to his first club management role with the Latics and has understandably not found life easy so far with the North West club.

Taking over late in the summer Robinson, who had been in France for the EUROs as a coach with the Northern Ireland football team, inherited a squad containing only a handful of professionals with most of the players who narrowly avoided relegation the season before having left along with former manager John Sheridan.

With the squad built from scratch and over 20 new players joining in the summer it is perhaps no surprise Robinson and Oldham have found consistent form difficult, having registered only three league wins.

Pressure appears to be mounting for Robinson, with some fans unhappy with the results and performances on the pitch, he needs to act fast to turn the club’s form around.

LAST MEETING

Tuesday 17th November 2015: Oldham Athletic 2, Mansfield Town 0

It was the Latics who came out on top in the two sides’ previous fixture in a FA Cup first round replay.

This being the fourth FA Cup game between the two sides within two years.

After playing out a 0-0 draw at the One Call Stadium two second half goals from Danny Philliskirk and Dominic Poleon in the replay earned Oldham a Round Two trip to Sheffield United, where they were beaten 1-0.