It’s back to the Sky Bet League Two this weekend where Barrow prepare for the visit of in-form Mansfield Town.
Stags have trotted away from danger and up the table but could the Bluebirds swoop for the win when the two teams go head-to-head this weekend in our featured kick-off?
📅 Match details
Kick-off at the Dunes Hotel Stadium, the home of the Cumbrian Club, is 15:00 on Saturday 22 January.
Referee Samuel Barrott has been named as the man in the middle, alongside assistant referees Steven Rushton and David Avent, and fourth official Joe Simpson.
👔 At the helm
Bluebirds boss Mark Cooper spent five fruitful years at Forest Green Rovers prior to his arrival in Cumbria – from guiding the Club to the EFL for the first time in their history to almost winning promotion to the Sky Bet League One, suffering defeat in the Play-Offs just two years later.
Following his departure from the Fully Charged New Lawn, Cooper’s next Club became Barrow in May 2021, having managed over 400 games at EFL level with the likes of Peterborough United, Swindon Town, Notts County and Forest Green.
Meanwhile, Mansfield manager Nigel Clough marked his one-year anniversary at the One Call Stadium in November and with his side making headway and bursting into the Play-Off spots, the Stags boss can look back at what he’s achieved with a feeling of achievement.
The 55-year-old inherited a Stags side sitting just above the League Two drop zone, but the former Sheffield United and Burton Albion boss reversed their fortunes, with Mansfield now making a case to be promotion candidates.
🔑 Key man
It’s fair to say that Ollie Banks has developed a knack for scoring the spectacular, but the Barrow attacker has proven he has both quality and quantity, with seven goals in 21 League showings this season, putting him top of Barrow’s scoring charts.
On target the last time the two teams met in October, the 29-year-old netted the match-winner from the spot in a 1-0 triumph for the Bluebirds, which prolonged the Stags’ winless run.
Fresh off the back of signing new terms with Mansfield that keeps the midfielder at the One Call Stadium until the summer of 2024, John-Joe O’Toole became a Stags player in October, arriving in Nottinghamshire as a free agent on a short-term deal.
The 33-year-old, who spent last season on the books at Burton Albion, has impressed in that period as Mansfield mounted a promotion push, scoring twice in nine League appearances. And his arrival sparked the Stags’ upturn in form, with O’Toole making it seven wins in eight since joining the Club.
📈 Form guide
Barrow sit just outside the drop zone, whilst Mansfield occupy the seventh and final Play-Off spot at present.
Despite a mixed bag of form, the Bluebirds come into the featured game on the back of a resolute display against Colchester United. Cooper’s side sealed a 2-0 victory over the U’s last weekend – a result which could give them the confidence they need to take on high-flying Mansfield.
After the Stags’ League Two midweek clash with top-of-the-table Forest Green Rovers was abandoned, Mansfield will be eager to hit the road for the first time since November and extend their impressive six-game winning streak.
However, Clough’s side have been found wanting away from home, despite turning their campaign around, with just two wins in nine on their travels this season – lacking form which the hosts could take advantage of.
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