Newport County manager Graham Coughlan believes Mansfield Town will achieve automatic promotion this season as he gears up for a trip to his former club tomorrow afternoon.
The Stags have enjoyed an excellent opening third of the season and are one of just two clubs – alongside League One’s Portsmouth – yet to taste a league defeat this season. As a result, Nigel Clough’s team currently sit third in League Two on goal difference, albeit six points behind leaders Stockport County.
Despite their 16-game unbeaten streak, Mansfield took a while to get into their stride, drawing eight of their opening 12 fixtures. However, they have won their last four and will be full of confidence heading into tomorrow’s clash with Newport County at Field Mill.
The Welsh outfit are currently languishing in 20th, six points above the drop zone, but have picked up four points from their last two outings. They still have a long way to go if they are to improve on their 15th-placed finish from last season and will be hoping to continue their mini revival in Nottinghamshire.
Coughlan knows all-too-well the threat their opponents possess, having managed the club between 2019 and 2020. Speaking to South Wales Argus ahead of the game, the 48-year-old believes that Clough will guide his team to promotion this season and was full of praise for his counterpart;
“Mansfield will be one of the three at the end of the season, in my opinion.
“Nigel (Clough) has done a great job, they have been trying for a few years and this might just be their year.
“We had two really good battles with them last year and they have high intensity, they are experienced and are a tough team.
“They have players who have played in the Championship recently and they have strength in depth, so it will be a huge challenge. We will have to be at our best to get anything out of Mansfield.
“They are an experienced team and their system seems to suit their players. They are mobile, big, strong, intense, are tidy with the ball but can also scrap.
“Nigel has put together a really good squad over a two or three-year period, and he knows his way around the division.”
Mansfield have as good a chance of anyone of achieving automatic promotion this season. Nigel Clough appears to have overcome the hurdle that was seeing them record too many draws in the opening part of the campaign and their recent form has seen them move into the top three.
There is still a long way to go this season and there will be many twists and turns along the road. Stockport are rightly considered the favourites, but there is also the threat of Wrexham and Notts County to contend with. Crewe Alexandra also continue to impress and will be happy to be considered underdogs, but it is sure to be an exciting race in League Two over the next few months.