Before the start of the season, Mansfield Town were tipped by the bookies to be among the major promotion favourites.
AFC Telford on the other hand were expected to be struggling in the relegation zone.
That only two points and two places currently separate the sides, in eighth and 10th place respectively, after nine games is an indication both of the Bucks’ promising start and the Stags’ relatively erratic opening to their respective campaigns.
It also indicates though that success is relative. While Telford have raised a few complimentary eyebrows on their way to assembling a surprising points haul of 13 so far – three wins, four draws and just two defeats – more has been expected of Paul Cox’s highly-touted side following 14 new arrivals over the summer.
They have taken 15 points from their games so far, including five wins – three in their last four games – but have also lost four times and have conceded 18 times so far.
Newport, Grimsby and Gateshead all netted four times against them and Mansfield ’s away form has seen them pick up just one win in four matches.
Mansfield ’s form has picked up in recent games and Telford will undoubtedly be cast as underdogs.
But defender Jordan Rose says the way the Bucks have set out their stall this season has given them real belief going into a testing run of fixtures.
Just three days after the Mansfield game Telford will welcome league leaders Newport County to the New Bucks Head.
But asked if the home double header against two of the big boys could define their season, he said: “I don’t think so. I think you have got to look at it the other way. The start to the season that we have had, I think that will define the season.
“We have taken some points off some good teams and had a really good start. We are in form and we are doing well.”
Rose and his colleagues will be aiming to shake off their disappointment from last Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Cambridge United.
The Bucks were 2-1 down with eight minutes of normal time remaining but battled back to lead until 11 minutes into stoppage time when Tom Shaw’s last gasp strike rescued a point for the hosts.
But Rose conceded that their disappointment at not having beaten a side that defeated them three times last season was also an indication of the improvements made under Andy Sinton during the summer.
Telford as still creaking under the weight of a lengthy injury list though with Luke Hubbins (hamstring), Jake Reid (hamstring), Michael Briscoe and Chris Blackburn (back), Jay Smith (abductor injury) and Chris Sharp (hernia) all battling to get back to first team action.
Centre-back Dan Preston is also still out as he will serve the last match of a six-game ban this weekend.
But left-back Ryan Valentine was expected to be eligible for this Saturday though after being ruled out of the Cambridge game due to a back injury.
Mansfield have their own injury concerns to contend with though and will be missing several bodies for the trip to Shropshire.
Joint top scorer Matt Green is serving the second match of a three match ban for his red card against Ebbsfleet while Gary Roberts, Ross Dyer, Jamie Hand, Nick Wright and Andy Todd are all on the Stags injury list.
But Paul Cox is currently in talks with three unnamed trialists and has not ruled out bringing in a couple of new faces ahead of kick-off.