VIDEO: Mansfield Town v Plymouth Argyle: Match preview
MANSFIELD boast the joint best defensive record in League Two after conceding 11 goals in 13 games this season.
Apart from an out-of-character 4-1 home defeat by Hartlepool United on October 5, the Stags have been hard to break down.
However, they will be without key centre-back John Dempster for the visit of Argyle to Field Mill on Saturday.
The 30-year-old was sent-off in the second half of the 0-0 draw away to Bury on Tuesday night for a two-footed tackle and must serve a suspension.
Dempster has started all 15 of Mansfield’s competitive matches this season and been a major reason for their defensive resilience.
With the exception of the blip against Hartlepool, the Stags have conceded only one other goal in the last six league games.
That was in a 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers in their most recent outing at Field Mill on October 12.
Seventh-placed Mansfield share the best defensive record in League Two with Southend United, who are 11th.
The Stags have returned to the Football League this season following a five-year absence.
They were crowned as Football Conference champions last April, finishing two points clear of runners-up Kidderminster Harriers.
Promotion did not look likely for Mansfield until they played Liverpool in a televised FA Cup third round tie in January.
The Stags put in a superb performance as they were beaten only 2-1 by their Premier League visitors and they put together an outstanding run of results after that.
Mansfield won 20 out of 24 games in the Conference, including a club record 12 consecutive victories, as they stormed to the title.
Their promotion came in the second season with Paul Cox as their manager, and they have ambitions to push on further.
Chairman John Radford, who took control of the Stags in September 2010, believes they are capable of being a Championship club.
Mansfield lost the services of their star striker Matt Green in the summer, when he was signed by Birmingham City, after scoring 25 goals for them in the Conference last term.
Goalscoring has been an issue for them this season, with no-one apart from Sam Clucas getting more than two.
Argyle manager John Sheridan believes there are many similarities between Mansfield and Newport County, who were promoted as Conference play-off final winners last season and drew 0-0 with the Pilgrims at Home Park on Tuesday night.
Both clubs have made more than respectable starts on their return to life in the Football League.
Mansfield are only five points off the top of the table, despite drawing all of their last three games.
Sheridan said: “They are strong and organised – similar to Newport. They have come up and started the season well.
“They have settled into this division well. It’s always a case when teams come up. They have had a successful season and they are used to winning.
“They will be a big aerial threat and in your face, and it’s getting them results at this moment in time. We have got to be prepared for what is thrown at us.”
Midfielder Dominic Blizzard has been added to the squad for Argyle’s first trip to Field Mill in 11 years.
The summer signing was recently ruled out by a virus but has successfully returned to full training.
The last of his six appearances for the Pilgrims this season – all of them starts – came in the 2-1 defeat away to Morecambe on August 31.