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Archived News from August 2003

18th August 2003 13:57

BY STEVIE RODEN, Evening Post, 18 August 2003

Star Mansfield Town midfielder Liam Lawrence has been warned he must earn the manager's respect before he is picked again - after being caught in a nightclub less than 48 hours before Saturday's match.

The 21-year-old was seen out in Mansfield on Thursday night despite strict orders by boss Keith Curle to his players.

Curle dropped Lawrence from the Stags squad that drew 1-1 with Leyton Orient at Field Mill on Saturday.

A furious Curle said he would not tolerate ill-discipline, stating that it was now up to Lawrence to alter his attitude before he is selected again.

"Liam has got to earn my respect as a footballer and a person and at the moment he has lost that.

"What he has done is to the detriment not only of himself, but of the football club as well and I am not having that.

"He has let himself down, the rest of the players down and the fans down.

"I do not take those things likely. I need disciplined players at this football club and if they are not, they will be punished."

Curle gave his players a 15-minute grilling after the match and said he was gutted after the visitors snatched an equaliser in the third minute of injury-time.

Gary Alexander's late header cancelled out Luke Dimech's first-half opener.

Curle added: "To say I am disappointed is an under- statement. I have told them they have the football brains of a rocking horse, they just do not know how to win games. There was a lack of discipline.

"I had too many boys in that changing room and I need men. I have to have a close look at what character I have at the football club as there were a lot of people stating afterwards that they were not responsible for mistakes, it was somebody else.

"I do not want that, we are all in this together.

"Now I have to raise the players to make sure they perform to their potential in the next match."

Evening Post, 18 August 2003
Mansfield Town 1 v 1 Leyton Orient

The opening home game of the league season and the fans may have left the stadium feeling a touch of deja vu. The Stags once again came unstuck with a late equaliser deep into injury time. It was an all-to-familiar scenario, having cost them in midweek against Sunderland, as well as on too many occasions last season.

Maybe the FA could choose to play games over two 40-minute periods, do away with injury time or the club could call in an exorcist to rid the ground of any demons that may be cursing them.

Keith Curle stated in his programme notes that there was no such thing as bad luck, or good luck for that matter. Just luck and the Stags had none of it last season. But the boss knew Saturday's late leveller was not down to any stroke of luck, simply his players' inability to do the simple things in order to win a match.

The manager was screaming from the dugout in the dying moments for his players to hit the corners, keep the visitors pinned back or to put it out for a throw-in at their end. Simply, just keep the ball or at least keep Orient out of the Stags half. But his words fell on deaf ears, leaving the boss fuming and shaking his head in disbelief when Gary Alexander's late header found the back of the net.

Instead of the usual warm down minutes after the game, the players were nowhere to be seen. After a quarter of an hour, they trudged back onto the pitch looking more than a little dejected.

And Curle, with the disappointment and anger clearly etched on his face, pulled no punches when he faced the press. "Footballing brains of a rocking horse," was one of his quotes on his players.

Read into that what you will but it was evident that the boss could not believe his players had allowed Orient the chances at the death to snatch a point. He had no excuses, just that his players had got to learn how to win games.

Curle knew it was not a spectacle, but he could not believe his players had thrown two points away. They need to learn how to grind out results and do the simple things to keep possession in the final minutes when they are winning games. It's going to be hard to install, but Curle is determined to achieve it when he gets his players back on the Forest Town training ground this week.

And as for Liam Lawrence's absence from the side, Curle showed that nobody is above the club.

He may be a favourite with the fans and one the club's most talented players, but rules are there for the benefit of the club and no matter who breaks them, Curle has shown he will act firmly. When Lawrence appears in a Stags shirt again remains to be seen but it depends on the player's attitude.

Curle said there was no room for ill-discipline both on and off the pitch because that is the kind of thing that will cost the club dearly come the end of the season. And surely no fan can condone him out socialising in a Mansfield nightclub so soon before a game.

But on the pitch, the Stags once again had their chances, Iyseden Christie even hit the bar with a bullet header to kill the game just seconds before Orient's equaliser. He caused a lot of problems in the first half for his former club and his best effort came when he twisted and tuned on the edge of the box only to see his stinging shot excellently tipped over by Glenn Morris in the Orient goal.

Andy White also had chances but was either denied by the goalkeeper or his finishing let him down.

However, what looked to have been the winning goal for the Stags came on 13 minutes in controversial circumstances. Jamie Clarke's long free-kick from the back lingered in the air and as White jumped up with Glenn Morris, the goalkeeper was clattered to the floor. But while Orient looked for a free-kick, the loose ball fell to Luke Dimech who slotted into the open net from a few yards out, to the annoyance of the travelling fans.

But Orient had their chances before the equaliser and many people inside the ground would not have begrudged them a point. Shortly into the second half a loose ball fell to Hunt inside the Stags box and he unleashed a drive that beat Pilkington, but bounced back into the goalkeeper's arms off the bottom of his right-hand post.

Tom Newey then capitalised on a Dave Artell mistake but his shot from 12-yards out was beaten away well by Pilkington.

The visitors got their equaliser in the third minute of injury time. David Hunt fired a ferocious cross to the back post and Alexandra headed past Pilkington from a few yards out.


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