Mansfield Town and Middlesbrough will put on hold their respective playoff pushes when they meet in the FA Cup third round at Field Mill on Saturday.
Both sides are in excellent form, with the Stags currently ninth in League Two and Boro occupying seventh in the Championship
Mansfield have not played since a 3-2 win over Hartlepool United on Boxing Day – their fifth consecutive victory.
Nigel Clough’s side have won 10 of their last 11 matches in all competitions, a run which has seen them rise from League Two’s relegation zone to three points behind the playoffs.
No team in the fourth tier have picked up more points on home turf this season and the Stags have won their last six games at Field Mill; not losing there since the start of October.
Mansfield have knocked out League One sides Sunderland and Doncaster Rovers in the FA Cup so far this campaign, but have only progressed past the third round once in the last 34 years.
That occasion came in 2008 when they faced Middlesbrough in round four – the most recent meeting between the two sides – and Gareth Southgate’s Boro team won 2-0 at Field Mill.
The Teessiders were a Premier League outfit back then and fans are dreaming of a return to the top flight under Chris Wilder, who has lost just once in eight games since succeeding Neil Warnock at the start of November.
STREAMS LINKS => STREAM 1 HD ¦STREAM 2 HD ¦STREAM 3 HD
Boro are only one point behind the Championship top six after winning five of their last six matches; only Blackburn Rovers have picked up more points in the second tier since Wilder’s arrival at the Riverside.
A New Year’s Day reunion with Sheffield United was postponed due to positive Covid-19 tests in the Boro squad, meaning the team’s last outing was a 2-1 away victory at Blackpool on December 29 when Duncan Watmore struck a 93rd-minute winner.
However, Middlesbrough, who have been knocked out in the third round of the FA Cup in each of the last two years, have not won back-to-back away matches so far this season