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Archived News from August 2004

3rd August 2004 14:07

Evening Post, 02 August 2004
Keith Curle has hinted that Joe O'Neill could start the season as a Mansfield player.

But Darren Barnard is highly unlikely to be offered a deal.

The Stags boss appears to be one striker short of the squad he will be happy to start the season.

And O'Neill could be signed in time for Saturday's League Two opener against Bristol Rovers, possibly on loan, if Mansfield can agree a deal withPreston.

"He fitted in very well," said the former England defender after watching O'Neill grab a debut goal in the 2-0 win over Bath City.

"It wasn't a classic textbook goal, but it's the type of goal I like centre-forwards to score, what I call a scruffy goal.

"I believe a player of Joe's calibre, with the right players around him, will score 15 to 20 goals a season.

"His link-up play, awareness and instinctive movement to create half a yard for himself was good."

Curle will talk to Preston this week to see if Mansfield can sign the 21-year-old striker.

"I haven't even found out exactly what his wages are and if there's a deal to be had," he added.

O'Neill won't feature in tonight's game at Alfreton Town, but will be involved in a behind-closed-doors game on Wednesday night.

Marvin Robinson is another striker who could earn a deal.

He missed Saturday's game but Curle said: "Marvin is probably two or three days away from being injury-free and then we can have a good look at him."

One player who will play tonight at Alfreton is Barnard, but the former Chelsea and Barnsley defender is not expected to sign for the Stags.

Curle said: "We haven't got room for another left-back."
Evening Post, 02 August 2004
Striker Joe O'Neill could be the final piece of Keith Curle's jigsaw.

The 21-year-old Preston striker, currently on trial with the Stags, scored in the 31st minute of his debut and gave Mansfield's manager plenty of food for thought.

It was an excellent all-round Stags display under a scorching sun at Twerton Park.

And within that display, O'Neill stood out.

The combination of his touch, quality and awareness - and the way he seamlessly slotted into Mansfield's way of playing - clearly impressed Curle, who could offer him a loan deal this week.

O'Neill and Colin Larkin worked well as a partnership, and Derek Asamoah showed how much he wants a starting place with a goal and a lively performance after replacing O'Neill in the second half.

In many ways, it was not far away from being the perfect warm-up game for Stags.

Warm it certainly was, and Mansfield's players showed they are fit as well as being organised and effective.

Both sides fielded sons of former internationals. Tom Curle enjoyed a useful run-out for Stags as a left wing substitute, while Tom Jordan, son of legendary ex-Scotland striker Joe, was in the starting line-up for Gary Owers' men.

Mansfield didn't need to fire on all cylinders to record a comprehensive victory.

But it was still a good performance and an excellent work-out for Curle's side.

The only negatives were that Mansfield squandered chances to secure an even more emphatic victory and that Bath were not at the same level as Mansfield in terms of performance as well as pyramid standing.

But it was a case of a job done well for the Stags, and Curle had no complaints.

Alex John-Baptiste and Dave Artell were the first half centre back partners, with Rhys Day and Luke Dimech taking over for the second period.

The two central defensive pairings ensured it was a quiet afternoon for Kevin Pilkington.

There was a brief flurry of chances for former Coventry striker John Williams in the first half, but even the experience of Owers and Bobby Ford in the centre of City's midfield was no match for a highly competent Stags outfit.

Bath struggled to cope with Wayne Corden's left-wing trickery and, with a little more than 30 minutes on the clock, he set up the opening goal.

His cross was nodded down by Lee Williamson and the unmarked O'Neill hooked the ball home from eight yards.

Mansfield were firmly in the driving seat and, although the home side did create further chances, there only ever looked like being one winner.

The small band of travelling Stags fans had to wait until the 76th minute for a second goal.

Asamoah got to the byeline and cut inside, before sweeping a sweetly-struck shot inside the near post - game over.

Neil MacKenzie's effort was tipped over as Stags went in search of a third but kept their discipline in the process.

And it was the manner of the victory rather than the scoreline which pleased Curle and assistant boss John Gannon the most.

"It was an excellent work-out," said Gannon. "We got exactly what we wanted out of it. We looked comfortable and had a good base of fitness.

"We wanted to protect players a little bit which is why we made some substitutions. We didn't want to put people under too much pressure"

Gannon was impressed by debutant O"Neill.

"He was excellent," said the Stags assistant boss. "His movement was very good. He scored a goal and showed us some definite qualities. Everyone is trying to impress and fight for a spot and a lot of players showed a lot of good things."

BATH CITY: Shuttlewood, Jones, Coupe, Jordan, Power, Benefield, Owers, Ford, Stevens, Tweddle, Williams. Subs - Monelle, Hulbert, Rollo, Lammercraft, Milton, Trout.

MANSFIELD TOWN: Pilkington, McNiven, Eaton, Curtis, John-Baptiste, Artell, Williamson, MacKenzie, Larkin, O"Neill, Corden. Subs - Day, Dimech, T Curle, Buxton, Lloyd, Asamoah, Herron.

mansfieldtown.net reports that Stags boss Keith Curle was pleased at the way the Stags performed in Bath over the weekend:

"I was most pleased at the workout, it wasn't the ideal preparation for a game of football, a lot of the players got caught in traffic jams but yet they arrived at the ground and out the stress of the journey behind them and gave a good account of themselves. I felt especially sorry for Alex John-Baptiste who has only recently passed his driving test and he found himself stuck behind the wheel for over four hours yet when he arrived at the ground he did the professional thing and put the journey behind him."

Trialist Joe O'Neill had a good workout as well finding the back of the net and setting up in the 'perfect assist' for the other goal. Curle explained that he was one of the two targets that he had been chasing for some time and was pleased at what he saw.

"Joe is one the two strikers that I have been interested in for a while now and would like to bring him to Field Mill. He knows how to use his body with good ball control in and around the box his twists and turns cut through the Bath defence at weekend and he displayed the qualities which I was looking for in a striker. I will be getting another good chance to have a look at him in a behind closed doors friendly tomorrow afternoon.

" The main thing of course is finances we still have to strike a deal and I was talking to Craig Brown after the Wolves game the other week about the possibility of having Joe come to Field Mill and the vibes were quite positive, but he did stress that if a player in his squad became injured Joe would figure which just goes to show the quality of player we are talking about."

The other trialists, Darren Barnard and Marvin Robinson have both been invited to carry on training with us if they wish. Robinson in particular who has been struggling with his fitness, despite been injured is showing the Stags Boss that he is made of the stuff that could be Mansfield Town.

"I have spoken to Marvin and he knows that he is 'a yard behind' the rest of the team but he has been working hard and is nearly back to a point where is prepared to knuckle down to the hard work of getting his match fitness back.

"He is the type of player that I would like to bring to this football club, big and strong. He is the type of player that will be on hand to nick the spilt ball and put the finishing touches to what I call the bread and butter goals. The ones that sometimes look clumsy but are the ones that often count in the final shake down" he said


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