League Two Gameweek 18: Victory for Flitcroft’s Stags?3 min read
In the first three months of their campaign, Mansfield Town were creating a lot of chances but not quite putting them away.
More recently though, they have found a ruthless edge.
Tyler Walker, who has played well at Championship level with Nottingham Forest, has scored four goals in his last two league games.
The teenage talent, 5/4 to score anytime, should get opportunities to show his class on Saturday, purely because of the control Mansfield are likely to exert.
Flitcroft’s opposite number, Neil Aspin, is expected to bring midfielder Manny Oyeleke in for left wing-back Theo Vassell and revert to his favoured 4-4-2 system.
Aspin likes to have two forwards – target man Tom Pope and spritely attacking midfielder Ben Whitfield – on the pitch, with the other eight outfielders handed defensive duties.
Perhaps, the downside to those methods, as we saw in their 2-0 home defeat to MK Dons last month, is that teams with three-man defences can cut off passing lanes into the front men and then monopolize the middle third at will.
Pope is unlikely to threaten on the counter-attack, so stopping Whitfield will go a long way to stopping Vale as an attacking entity.
Mansfield, who employ a 3-4-3, should have plenty of joy in that regard.
The Stags, who have lost just one league game all season, boast a very strong midfield.
Jacob Mellis, who worked under Flitcroft at Championship level with Barnsley, is a fine technician in midfield, while Timi Max Elsnik is one of the most dynamic box-to-box men below the second tier.
The likes of CJ Hamilton and Mal Benning, meanwhile, offer pace and quality respectively in wide areas.
The three bottom half sides to visit Field Mill this season – Northampton, Oldham and Grimsby – have had a combined three shots on target, one goal between them and on average 43