Reds finish the season with a trip to the One Call Stadium – or Field Mill in old money – when we take on Mansfield Town on Saturday (3pm).
The game could be very significant for the hosts as they challenge for the play-offs. The atmosphere could be highly charged, although perhaps not as charged had ex-Reds boss Steve Evans still been in charge. Instead, he left a few weeks ago to join Peterborough with ex-Swindon boss David Flitcroft taking over.
We’ve had mixed fortunes on previous visits to Mansfield. Two Conference meetings produced a 4-0 defeat on the opening day in 2009 but in our promotion-winning campaign we won 4-1 there, including a rare goal from Dannie Bulman.
Two games there in the Football League ended in conclusive defeats. Gwion Edwards was sent off in a 4-0 thumping for Mark Yates’ side in 2015 and last season we went down 3-1 in what was Evans’ first game in charge. Bobson Bawling got our consolation late on with a deflected shot.
Reds fans will be seated in the North Stand, which has a capacity of 1,800. The ground’s capacity these days is 10,000 having been rebuilt on three sides. It’s now dominated by the double-tiered main stand which has a capacity of 6,000. One of Evans’ first decisions when he was manager was to move the dugouts here. Previously they were sited on the far side of the pitch in front of the now derelict Bishop Street Stand.
Away fans are allowed inside the Sandy Pate Bar underneath the main stand but the advice is to stay away from town-centre pubs, which tend to be home fans only. Instead, try the Midland Hotel on Talbot Road, which is ten minutes away, while there are two recommended pubs on the A38 as you approach Mansfield from the M1 – the John Cockle and Bold Forester. Both are CAMRA recommended and also do good food.
By car the ground is easily located in Mansfield town centre, accessing from the A38 off the M1 at junction 28. Head for Quarry Lane where stadium parking is £5. Alternatively, you can park in the Station Car Park for £4. This is behind the Portland retail park which is adjacent to the away end.
By train, we found the 0905 from Three Bridges which gets to Mansfield at 1257 via St Pancras International (1029 departure) and Nottingham (1226). The 1005 arrives 1327 via the same route or how about a scenic hop via Gatwick, Victoria, Kings Cross, Grantham and Nottingham starting at 1027 and arriving at 1427.
The best return service, also via Nottingham and St Pancras, leaves Mansfield at 1746.
Alternatively, let www.ghcoaches.co.uk take the strain. Coaches leave at 8am and there is a lunch stop at the Cross Keys pub at Castle Donington. Fare is £20 and you can book by calling 07771-792346.
Pictured: Reds celebrate Ibrahim Meite's goal in the 2-0 win over Mansfield back in December