STAGS LATE SLIPS WORTH 11 POINTS
Evening Post, 23 April 2003
Mansfield defender Jamie Clarke believes the concession of late goals will haunt the Stags if they do slip into Division Three.
Keith Curle's side need to win their last two games and hope a host of other results go their way to stay in the Second Division. They would have been back in with a fighting chance if they had managed to hold on to a lead at Blackpool on Monday but they were hit by Scott Taylor's sucker punch in injury time.
The Stags have now conceded 17 goals in the last five minutes of their league matches and that equates to 11 points that have slipped by as a result of equalisers or winners at the death.
Those 11 points, added to their current tally of 41, would have seen them safe.
Clarke, who scored his first league goal in the 3-3 draw at Bloomfield Road, said: "Overall, it's been a real disappointment that we managed to get in front and then, again, just one set-piece leads to a goal. It's happened too many times.
"When we got in front with only a few minutes left I was really confident we would be able to go on and win but then it was the set-piece again and it's been our undoing for most of the season."
Clarke believes that late slip-ups have led to poor results that fail to reflect properly on Stags' level of performance. He claims they can be a match for any team in the Second Division.
"As far as talent is concerned, I think we have shown that we can match even the top teams but we have let stupid goals in, like when we played Bristol City and lost 5-4 after we were cruising," he added.
"But if we do go down, and it is still an if, and we can keep the team together, then I think we have got a really good chance of pushing on.
"All I want to do is keep my place in the team and hopefully we can pull off a miraculous escape.
"It was great to get my first goal. I think it was virtually the first shot I've managed to keep down.
"I also think it was better than the one Andy White got at Barnsley so it's something to take the mick about with him.
"We've just got to keep going and keep our fingers crossed that other results go our way."
Meanwhile, Dave Rushbury has resigned at Stags' arch-rivals Chesterfield.
The Spireites have lost five successive games to leave them one point and one place above the relegation zone.
Assistant manager Lee Richardson and first-team coach Dave Thompson will take over team affairs until the end of the season, assisted by senior player David Reeves.
Rushbury, who took over at Saltergate in January 2002 said: "I have made this decision out of respect for the board and the players as they are now being affected by the personal abuse that is being directed at me by a certain section of fans. The job has become untenable."
Chairman Barrie Hubbard added: "We understand why Dave has taken this decision, which he feels is in the bests interests of the team.
"With no other distractions we know the supporters will want to get full-square behind the team, as staying in Division Two is still in our own hands."
Chesterfield face promotion-chasing Bristol City at Saltergate on Saturday before a trip to Blackpool on the final day of the season.
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