INJURY NEWS BRIGHTER
Stags injury news brighter as match sells out
MANSFIELD Town's back four appear to be winning their fitness battle for tomorrow night's crunch play-off semi-final second leg with Northampton at Field Mill.
Stags go into the match, which is now a complete sell-out, with a 2-0 lead but have had their back four on the treatment table all week.
Alex John-Baptiste, Rhys Day, Adam Eaton and Bobby Hassell all have to train today to prove their fitness and manager Keith Curle said; "I am hoping aall four will come through.
"It was no surprise to find them all on the treatment table on Monday after all the hard work and commitment they put in on Sunday.
"Alex was the biggest doubt at 60-40 against. But his calf has responded well to treatment and he's probably 50-50 now."
John-Baptiste added: "I just slid in for a ball on Sunday and it didn't feel right so I came off.
"It's a lot better now than it was and I will train today and just see how it goes.
"Hopefully it's better as I don't want to lose my place. Someone could come in and do well and I would miss out on playing in the final.
"It's a massive game tomorrow and I want to be involved if I can."
While everyone is well aware that the game is only at half-time and Northampton are still dangerous, Curle said he was quite happy for players to mention Cardiff.
"I am not scared of talking about what we want to achieve. That is winning promotion and going into the Second Division.
"To do that we wouyld have to beat Northampton and then go to Cardiff and win the final.
"I want to take this football club to Cardiff. That is our focus. It's the sexy way to get promotion and hopefully we can do it."
Should Mansfield Town through to the final at the Millenium Stadium on Monday, 31st May, the tickets will be on sale this Sunday, 23rd May, from 10am.
Stags have been offered an initial 20,000 tickets so there are plenty to go around and more can be made available if needed.
Prices will vary depending on where you are sitting and range from £22 - £42 for adults and £11 - £21 concession.
NOW LET'S MAKE IT A PERFECT DAY...
Evening Post, IAN WILKERSON, 19 May 2004
Stags defender Rhys Day said today Keith Curle's side could not have hoped for a better result from their play-off first leg at Northampton but warned the job is only half done.
The former Wales Under-21 captain headed the first goal in Mansfield's 2-0 success on Sunday but knows there is still work to be done in Thursday's return at Field Mill.
Only one team has let a two-goal lead slip after winning away in the first leg since the play-offs were introduced in 1986.
That came in the Division Two showdown between Bradford City and Blackpool in 1996.
The Bantams lost 2-0 at Valley Parade but won the second leg 3-0.
However, Day is determined history will not repeat itself and teh Stags will be able to book a place at the Millennium Stadium for the final against either Huddersfield or Lincoln City.
He is adamant that the fact the Cobblers need to attack from the off will help them complete the job.
Their only defeat by more than two goals at Field Mill this season came against First Division Burnley in the FA Cup.
He said: "It is still only half-time. We have managed to get a bit of a cushion and there is no doubt they are going to come at us.
"They've got no choice but we have got to stay tight at the back and, if we do that, then we should be all right.
"But it should help us as well because we are a good team on the break and hopefully there will be a few gaps that appear and we can get some more goals."
Day's header came five minutes before half-time and gave him his eighth goal of the campaign.
He said it helped Stags settle after a period of relentless pressure, although he said Kevin Pilkington's save from a Robert Ullathorne header just before Junior Mendes made it 2-0 tipped the balance in their favour.
He said: "We didn't really get off to the best of starts but once we managed to get the first goal, it seemed that the whole team was lifted.
"After that, we kept our shape well but we were very solid.
"Kevin made a great save when it was 1-0 and that was certainly a big turning point."
He was delighted with the well-worked free-kick that gave him his goal.
Lee Williamson and Junior Mendes caused confusion in the box and Liam Lawrence's free-kick was a perfect height for the former Manchester City defender.
Day said: "The free-kick went exactly as planned. Lee managed to get a block on my man and it was a great delivery from Liam.
"I'd like to think it was a great finish as well.
"If someone had offered us a 2-0 win we would have taken it any day.
"Now we have to take them back on Thursday and finish the job."
Lincoln boss Keith Alexander believes his battle-hardened players could thrive at the McAlpine Stadium for the second leg of their play-off semi-final against Huddersfield tonight.
The Imps have work to do after losing the first leg 2-1 at Sincil Bank but Alexander is confident his side can shine in front of a 23,000 sell-out.
Lincoln have an impressive away record in the Third Division and won at Scunthorpe at the same stage last year.
"My players have had enough big games in the past two seasons not to let the atmosphere worry them," Alexander said.
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