Carlisle United v Mansfield Town
Mansfield Town are back in action on Monday afternoon away at Carlisle United and are in desperate need of a win to keep their push for promotion on track.
Good Friday was anything but good for the Stags as they were beaten 3-2 by Sutton United on home soil. Their boss, Nigel Clough, says keeping a clean sheet should be their “priority” as they prepare to bounce back at Brunton Park. Mansfield will fancy their chances of going up to Cumbria and getting a result, especially as their opponents have absolutely nothing to play for now. The Stags have been in decent form away from home recently and have lost just once in their last four outings on the road and that was against table toppers Forest Green Rovers. In terms of injury terms, the trek up to Cumbria will come too soon for attacking pair Rhys Oates and Stephen McLaughlin again and the club will be reluctant to risk making their injuries worse by forcing them back too early. They have the strength in depth to deal with their absences though with Lucas Akins, Jordan Bowery and Oli Hawkins able to step in, with George Maris and Danny Johnson useful options too. Mansfield put Jamie Murphy on the bench against Sutton so he could return to the pitch against Carlisle which is a boost as he adds more experience into their ranks. They are scoring goals at the moment having found the net six times in the past two games and they’ll bounce back against Carlisle.
Paul Simpson’s side have one eye on the summer and next season now and are already on the beach. They will be there for the taking for Mansfield, especially if they put in a performance like they did against Walsall on Friday. They lost 1-0 to the Saddlers after Jack Earing’s first-half goal and are winless in their last four league matches. Simpson’s side are already safe and have a few selection woes ahead of their next match. Defender Morgan Feeney had heart palpitations in the last game and was thankfully alright but the club rightly won’t be taking any risks with him. Jack Armer came off the bench and is the likely candidate to start in his place against Mansfield but not having key player Feeney, who won the club’s Player of the Month award for March, will be a big blow. Midfielder Corey Whelan and goalkeeper Magnus Norman are also ill so the club could only just scrape together 18 players last time out and are struggling as the games come thick and fast.
Scunthorpe United v Stevenage
Scunthorpe United have been relegated to the National League for the first time in their history and Stevenage will be praying they won’t be joining them there as they travel to the Sands Venue Stadium on Monday.
The Iron were beaten once again on Good Friday against Leyton Orient and were 3-0 down after half an hour. The scoreline remained that way and they have now been put out of their misery and have slipped into the National League. Their boss, Keith Hill, says they need a “new model, a new identity, and a new foundation” and the club will be desperate for this horrific season to end. They have nothing to play for now and Stevenage will be looking to take advantage of that. Scunthorpe have been the worst team by a country mile this term and are the lowest scorers in the division and have conceded the most goals. To make matters worse, they are without key defensive trio Ross Millen, Mason O’Malley and George Taft at the moment as they are all out injured. That Iron having to play inexperienced youngster Ethan Young in the defeat at Leyton Orient and also forced them to recall teenager Cameron Wilson from his loan at Scarborough Athletic earlier this week. They have lost 26 times in this campaign and it is likely to be 27 come the end of Monday.
Stevenage have started to turn a corner under new boss Steve Evans and have risen out of the bottom two in League Two after their 1-0 win over Rochdale on Friday with defender Scott Cuthbert scoring the winner on 48 minutes. Evans said that they had to “find a way to win” and did. They have now won back-to-back matches to leapfrog Oldham Athletic and will be keen to make the most of playing 24th place Scunthorpe by making it three wins on the spin. In terms of team news, Stevenage have a clean bill of health and no fresh injury concerns off the back of their game against Rochdale which is a boost. Attacker Elliott List and midfielder Jake Taylor were assessed after the win over Colchester United last weekend and were deemed fit to play. Striker Luke Norris, who missed Friday’s game through suspension, is back available for the Scunthorpe clash which is great news for Evans’ side. He has scored 12 goals in all competitions this term and is their main attacking goal threat.
Northampton Town v Harrogate Town
Northampton Town are well in the race for promotion as they take on an out of sorts Harrogate Town side.
The Cobblers are currently 4th in the League Two table and are five points behind 3rd place Port Vale with four games left of the season to play. They picked up a useful 2-0 win away at Oldham Athletic on Good Friday with goals from defender Jon Guthrie and attacker Louis Appere and their boss, Jon Brady, said the victory “showed real strength of character”. Northampton will be pleased to be heading back home on Monday and haven’t lost or conceded in their past two league outings at Sixfields against Hartlepool United and Bradford City. They are still in with a real shot of automatic promotion to League One and won’t want to slip up against Harrogate. Left-back Ali Koiki and Shaun McWilliams made their return to the side against Oldham Athletic and replaced Joe Mills and Scott Pollock in the starting XI which gave them fresh legs. Central midfielder Paul Lewis is out for the rest of the season though which is a blow but they won’t miss him much is Jack Sowerby keeps putting in impressive performances.
Harrogate are in a dismal run of form and will be there for the taking for Northampton. The Sulphurites were battered 4-1 at home to Swindon Town last time out and their manager, Simon Weaver, said it was a “tough” game and he won’t be holding out much hope his side will bounce back from it. They have won just once in 11 games and their only win since 22nd February was against bottom of the league table Scunthorpe United. The Yorkshire club have slipped down to 18th place and although they are comfortably safe from relegation, they will just want this campaign to end now to stop this rut they are in. They are down the bare bones with Josh Falkingham, Lewis Page, Brahima Diarra, Lewis Richards and Mark Oxley all out injured. To heap more misery on Weaver, Calum Kavanagh and Lloyd Kerry picked up knocks against Swindon, Jack Muldoon and winger Simon Power were left out of the squad with injury woes. Harrogate could only name five players on the bench, three of who are aged 20 and under, so have some serious squad size issues ahead of their trip to Northampton which means the game appears to be heading for a home win.
Port Vale v Bristol Rovers
Port Vale welcome Bristol Rovers to Vale Park on Easter Monday in a huge game at the top end of League Two.
The Valiants are flying at the moment and have their sights firmly set on promotion to League One. Joey Barton’s side are five points behind and need to win this one if they are to gate crash the top three. Port Vale picked up a huge 1-0 win away at Hartlepool United on Good Friday thanks to striker Connor Hall’s second-half goal. Their number two, Andy Crosby says that there is a “real motivation” to gain promotion following manager Darrell Clarke’s personal bereavement and their players are certainly doing their boss proud. Vale have won their past five games on the spin and are unbeaten in their last nine outings in the league. Midfielder Brad Walker was forced off in the second-half against Hartlepool with a hamstring injury but the team have a ready-made replacement in the form of Jake Taylor if he is to be sidelined with injury now. They are flying and scoring goals for fun at the moment so will fancy their chances of finding the net at least once against Bristol Rovers.
Bristol Rovers, like Port Vale, are in a decent run of form right now and picked up a huge 1-0 victory themselves over Salford City last time out courtesy of Newcastle United loan man Elliot Anderson’s fifth goal since his January switch. Manager Joey Barton felt his side “deserved” the win and they will be in confident mood now. The Pirates have lost just once in eight and are in need of a couple more wins to guarantee their place in the play-offs next month. Striker Leon Clarke injured his hamstring in the warm-up against Salford and will be assessed ahead of the trip to Port Vale. This isn’t too much of a problem for the Gas as they haven’t been struggling for goals of late, managing to score in eight of their last 10 games. They have players who can hurt Port Vale like Harry Anderson, Aaron Collins, Sam Nicholson and Luke Thomas, the latter of who Barton now wants to sign on a permanent basis from Barnsley this summer. They also left key player Anthony Evans, who has chipped in with 19 goal contributions this term, on the bench against the Ammies and he will be fresh if he starts from the off against Vale.
Forest Green Rovers v Oldham Athletic
Forest Green Rovers are on the verge of promotion to League One for the first time in their history, whilst Oldham Athletic are at serious risk of dropping into non-league.
Rob Edwards’ side welcome the Latics to the New Lawn on Monday afternoon in a big game at both ends of the League Two table. The hosts only need a couple more wins to seal their promotion to the third tier but are missing top scorer Matty Stevens who is out until the end of the season. They have Jamille Matt and Josh Marsh stepping in for him so have players who can hurt Oldham’s fragile defence. However, Forest Green have got defensive worries of their own at the moment despite their impressive league position, and were battered 4-0 away at relegation-threatened Barrow on Good Friday. Edwards admitted it was a “difficult” game for his side and they will be desperate to bounce back with a win against John Sheridan’s side. Oldham pose a very similar threat to Barrow though and are fighting for their lives so there could be a repeat performance from Forest Green. Nevertheless, you always fancy them to score goals because they are the highest scorers in the division, having found the net 69 times in 41 games.
Oldham have slipped back into the bottom two after their 2-0 home defeat to Northampton Town on Friday. Stevenage have won back-to-backs games as well which has seen them leapfrog the North West club. Bar their defeat to the Cobblers, the Latics aren’t having problems finding the net and have scored in five out of their last six matches which will give them confidence as they prepare to make the trip down south for Monday’s game. Sheridan says they are making too many “silly mistakes” and Forest Green will be looking to capitalise on these individual errors. Oldham’s backline will be significantly weaker following Carl Piergianni’s red card against Northampton and he will now serve a suspension which is a major blow to his side’s hopes of staying up. Kyle Jameson is likely to step into his shoes but he doesn’t have the same experience or influence on the team and has only played seven times in the league this term. Will Sutton is another option to play centre-back but again, he is only 19-years-old and isn’t used to relegation battles.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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