Bristol Rovers v Mansfield Town Match Preview 12.02.2022

League Two, Saturday February 12, 3pm, The Memorial Stadium

Rovers will look to get back on track when in-form Mansfield Town, one of the teams Bristol Rovers are chasing down to get in the play-offs, travel the Mem.

Joey Barton’s side saw a run of six games without defeat come to a crashing end in midweek thanks to a 2-1 loss at relegation-threatened Oldham Athletic.

The Gas battled back after falling 2-0 down to a first-half Davis Keillor-Dunn double but, although Sam Nicholson replied before the break, Rovers could not find an equaliser.

While the result leaves The Gas 10 points outside the top seven they have three games in hand on Newport County, meaning Mansfield’s visit is close to must-win territory for the Pirates.

Team news

Barton has a decision to make over his starting goalkeeper, with James Belshaw expected to be fit to return. Anssi Jaakkola impressed in the Oldham defeat and could keep the gloves.

Antony Evans is a major doubt having come off injured in the first half at Boundary Park. Leon Clarke is back in training and Josh Grant has a chance to return but striker Ryan Loft is still out.

There is better news on Connor Taylor, with the centre-back expected to be included after he had heart palpitations during the warm-up in midweek. Jon Nolan is not yet fully fit, however.

The form book

Mansfield are one of the form teams in the country, having won nine of their past 10 League Two fixtures, with a 2-1 home defeat of Colchester United in midweek their latest success.

Nigel Clough’s side were held to a goalless draw by Harrogate Town on their last road trip. Rovers have won three in a row in front of their own fans, turning the Mem into a fortress.

Head to head record

Gas and the Stags have been closely matched in recent years, trading a couple of wins apiece in the past four meetings between the sides.

In the reverse game back in August, a Daniel Johnson penalty deep into injury time earned Mansfield a 2-1 victory.

Town’s last trip to the Mem was in 2016, when a Matt Taylor goal gave Rovers a 1-0 victory.

Opposition player to watch

Despite usually starting at left-back, the versatile Stephen McLaughlin is one of the key attacking threats in the Mansfield team.

A strong threat from set pieces, McLaughlin has contributed four goals and six assists in 27 League Two games this season.

The 32-year-old Irishman is in fine form too, with three assists in his past four league games.

He is likely to be passed fit to face Rovers despite getting a bang on the head in midweek.