LATEST TEAM NEWS FROM CHAD AND ESSEX SITES
Surprise for Stags
STAGS boss Keith Curle took his squad off for a relaxing day at Thoresby Hall's health spa facilities today (Thursday) to try to freshen them up for Saturday's visit of struggling Southend United (3pm).
Curle, who will be without five suspended stars in Liam Lawrence, Bobby Hassell, Tom Curtis, Lee Williamson and Jamie Clarke, sprung the surprise on the players when they arrived for training.
"I sensed a bit of negativity around the club this week so I decided to surprise them and whip them off to Thoresby Hall and its magnificent facilities," said Curle.
"I thought it would do them good to change their focus and mindset.
"They were told to report to the ground at 9.30am with their boots. Then off we went.
"It's good to surprise them when we can. It keeps them interested as it can become mundane if you know exactly what you are going to be doing every day."
There will be several changes with the suspensions and, although Curle has been unable to bring in any new faces this week, he does have Tony Vaughan (ankle and ribs) and Craig Disley (back) returning from injury and Luke Dimech from suspension.
Curle is keeping his cards close to his chest as always but Dimech and Vaughan would be obvious choices as full backs, though teenager Jake Buxton staked a good claim at left back last weekend, while Disley and young prospect Alex John-Baptiste will contest the central midfield berth alongside Neil MacKenzie.
Southend, although struggling in the League, slammed Second Division QPR 4-0 in the LDV Vans Trophy in midweek.
"Obviously we will have to make quite a few changes, but I believe I still have enough to go out there and give a good account of themselves and get the three points," added Curle.
"We have been playing with only four players on top of their game in recent weeks and still managing to get the results.
"We couldn't get anyone new in but, unless it's the right player longer term, there's no point in bringing in faces for one match.
"This game gives other players a chance to stake a claim."
Nothing further has come of the Liam Lawrence transfer speculation though, once Saturday's game is out of the way, Curle intends to sit down with Lawrence and chairman Keith Haslam for further talks.
Before that win over QPR, Southend had gone five games without a win.
They are likely to be unchanged after their midweek tonic win with Tes Bramble, Jim Corbett, Michael Husbands, Leke Odunsi, Jamie Fullerton and Derby loanee Lewis Hunt all still out injured.
Leon Constantine is their top marksman with 12 goals but Drewe Broughton, who has had a poor season, has suddenly found form with three in the last two games.
Stags fans have been given the three new stands with discounted children's tickets available in the South Stand if bought from the office as a new Family Section goes on trial.
Southend fans will be housed in the Bishop Street Stand.
CURLE HAS HIS WORK CUT OUT
BY STEVIE RODEN
Keith Curle has a selection headache going into tomorrow's clash with strugglers Southend - as his squad is down to the bare bones.
The Stags boss is without Liam Lawrence, Lee Williamson, Tom Curtis and Bobby Hassell as they are all serving one-match bans after picking up five yellow cards. And Jamie Clarke is suspended after his red card against Burnley.
Adam Eaton is still injured, Tony Vaughan is struggling with ankle and rib injuries and Chris Beardsley and Craig Mitchell are out on loan. But on a positive note, Luke Dimech returns from injury.
Despite Curle having to reshape his side, he is confident they can bounce back from last weekend's disappointing 3-1 defeat at Leyton Orient and achieve a double over the Shrimpers.
He said: "I know we have a quality squad and this is the chance for them to prove it. We have players missing but if we play our game, we can get a result."
Curle went to watch Southend lose 1-0 in their FA Cup replay at Scarborough.
Curle said: "Southend played it direct and I don"t think I saw the best of them, but I know we need to get about them and make it an uncomfortable afternoon.
"We are now four points behind the automatic spots but we have 20 games to pull back four points, which is an achievable target. It's not like there's one game left. There is still a long way to go."
With Rotherham's interest in Liam Lawrence likely to intensify next week and suspensions and injuries hitting his side, Curle has been looking to bring players in to bolster his squad.
Leicester City striker Trevor Benjamin was one player Curle enquired about, only to find he had been pipped by Brighton who called less than two hours earlier.
"It isn't easy trying to tempt players from higher divisions to come here to kick-start their careers again," he said.
"I have made a number of phone calls and am waiting for a lot of replies, so we will have to see what happens."
Stags (probable): Pilkington, Buxton, Vaughan, Artell, Day, Disley, MacKenzie, Corden, Larkin, Mendes, Christie. Subs: J White, A White, Dimech, T Curle, John-Baptiste.
The E Block of the South Stand will be a family enclosure tomorrow.
At least one adult has to accompany under-16s, but tickets for juniors will be at a reduced rate of £14 for adults, £5 for U-16s. All tickets must be bought from the ticket office before kick-off.
Tomorrow night, a millionaires' night will be held in the Sponsor's Lounge of the West Stand. It is for SSA and Team Mansfield members and tickets are £3, which includes a pie and peas supper.
Ananova: Preview: Mansfield v Southend
Mansfield manager Keith Curle will be without at least five players for the visit of Southend.
Jamie Clarke is still suspended while Lee Williamson, Bobby Hassell, Tom Curtis and Liam Lawrence are all serving one-game suspensions.
Luke Dimech will be available again while Neil MacKenzie has recovered from a hand injury.
Southend will be without the Michael Husband.
Husband has recovered from a bladder infection but picked up a back injury in a reserve game.
Long term casualties Jamie Fullarton (shoulder) and Leke Odunsi (ankle) remain sidelined.
Leon's on a stag hunt!
Southend United striker Leon Constantine is hoping to continue his fine goalscoring form at promotion-pushing Mansfield Town.
The 25-year-old forward has netted 12 times in 25 starts so far this season and is looking to to improve his impressive tally against high-flying Stags tomorrow.
"I hope to get on the scoresheet in every game I play and, as a striker, if I don't get a goal, I'm always disappointed," said Constantine.
"I've got 12 so far this season - which isn't bad - but I'm not satisfied yet. I got one on Tuesday but I want more and I'll keep on going to try and get as many as possible."
And Constantine added the struggling Shrimpers were desperate to secure a morale-boosting victory at the Field Mill stadium this weekend.
"We need a win - nothing else will help us because we need to start getting some more victories in the League," said the former Leyton Orient hitman.
Mansfield Town vs. Southend United – Preview
Story by Robert Craven 23 January 2004
MANSFIELD TOWN are the latest side to come up against a Southend United team hoping to secure their first Third Division triumph of 2004, with both clubs understrength…
Steve Tilson and Paul Brush, who seemed to be handed a vote of confidence by Ron Martin for the caretaker managers's role in the build-up to the Queens Park Rangers LDV Vans Trophy tie on Tuesday, have a whole host of injury concerns to deal with as they take their side north to Field Mill; the latest of which was obtained in the Pontin's Holidays Cup fixture at London Road on Wednesday. The clash against Peterborough United saw Michael Husbands limp off of the pitch with what has now been diagnosed as a back injury.
The injury prone former Aston Villa striker joins a long list of teammates who are unavailable for the encounter. Jamie Fullarton remains out of the first team picture for at least another month, whilst Leke Odunsi has not featuired since the start of October and appears to be showing few signs of a return to full fitness. Lewis Hunt has torn a groin muscle, which will keep him out of action for at least a fortnight, whilst Tesfaye Bramble faces a similar length of time on the sidelines with his hamstring strain. James Corbett, fresh from returning from an ankle injury, will not travel after picking up a toe injury during rehabilitation.
All of this means that Tilson and Brush are stretched with regards to their team selection. They are likely to plump for the same sixteen-man squad that were selected against QPR, and with no changes to the starting personnel. Darryl Flahavan had a very quiet match between the sticks, in stark contrast to his deputy, Carl Emberson, who was the runaway man-of-the-match in the 2-0 defeat to the Posh in midweek. Once again, Ryan Robinson was nowhere to be seen.
Full-backs Duncan Jupp and Jamie Stuart responded well to recent criticism to put in fine displays against an experienced Rangers midfield on Tuesday night, and are set to keep their places, with Leon Cort and the fired-up Mark Warren, desperate to retain his place when Lewis Hunt comes back, inspired in the centre. Dave McSweeney was in action for the second-string, but he failed to impress and looks set to continue warming the bench.
In midfield too, there seems little suggestion that the four players who nset Roots Hall alight three days ago will not be allowed the opportunity to do likewise at Field Mill. Steven Clark returned to the strarting line-up with a bang, and after his fantastic goal, seems favourite to retain his place. Mark Gower will operate on the opposite flank with captain Kevin Maher and Jay Smith in the middle. Che Wilson, Neil Jenkins and the available-again Mark Bentley all failed to show Tilson why they should play ahead of the current four in midweek, and look set to battle for places on the bench.
Up front, the management team will have to select the pairing that provided them, and the near-6,000-strong crowd, with three of the four goals against the promotion-chasing Second Division Hoops. Leon Constantine hit his first goal in five matches to open the scoring that night, and he was joined with two late strikes by Drewe Broughton, who now has three goals in his last two appearances, and four in the last seven matches. Michael Kightly is likely to be attacking substitute again in the absence of anyone more experienced.
The Stags will be without a whole host of players. Defenders Jamie Clarke and Bobby Hassell miss out through suspension, whilst midfield men Tom Curtis, Liam Lawrence (subject of a £75,000-bid from Rotherham United in midweek) and Lee Williamson also sit out the clash. Craig Disley did not feature last weekend, but another that was not involved in the 3-1 defeat to Leyton Orient, Luke Dimech, comes back from suspension. Neil McKenzie has got over a hand injury to take his place in a depleated midfield.
The last encounter between the two sides was disappointing for the Essex club as they lost 3-0, with Iyseden Christie netting a hat-trick, but the Shrimpers have lost just once in the last five meetings at Field Mill, although the only victory was in September 1990. Overall in head-to-heads the Stags hold a narrow 18-16 lead, but with the confidence of a 4-0 trouncing of a higher-calibre side on Tuesday behind them, United will be brimming with confidence as they face the fourth-placed Town. And if they play like they did then, the travelling contingent will come back with smiles on their faces after the first League win in 2004.
Referee: Eddie Evans (Greater Manchester)
Assistant Referees: Phil Bramley (West Yorkshire) and Wayne McIntosh (Lincolnshire)
Evans will be remembered by most Shrimpers supporters for the manner in which he completely lost control of his first ever Football League fixture at the start of the 2002/3 campaign at Hull City's old Boothferry Park ground. On that occasion he managed to book none separate players, including Stephen Broad, Graeme Jones, Kevin Maher, Ian Selley and Phil Whelan from Southend and send off the Tigers' Ian Ashbee as the two sides battled out a 2-2 draw. His second, and last Blues encounter to date, saw Tesfaye Bramble and Stephen Kelly cautioned in a 1-0 defeat at Kidderminster Harriers. In 2002/3 he booked 94 and sent off nine in 27 matches, whilst this year the record is eleven dismissals and 66 yellows in just nineteen games. Expect cards aplenty.
Latest | January 2004