MACKENZIE SET TO EARN STRIPES
Evening Post, 13 August 2004
Neil MacKenzie could be handed a start at Chester tomorrow after his excellent second-half showing in Wednesday's 1-0 defeat at Oxford.
Mansfield Town's youth team kick-off the new season in the Northern Central Conference with a game against Macclesfield Town at Forest Town tomorrow (11am).
Adam Eaton is expected to be fit after he was replaced at half-time, but Lee Williamson serves a one-match ban after he was sent off.
Keith Curle was unhappy with the manner of the defeat at the Kassam Stadium and is demanding improvements.
The manager had plenty to complain about to his players after the game - and Lee Williamson was the target of some of his criticism after the midfielder's red card.
"We got a lifeline and it looked like it was only a matter of time before we scored, then we committed suicide by levelling the game up with ten against ten," said Curle.
"If we'd kept it at 11 versus ten I think we could have gone on to win."
The Stags boss refused to blame misfortune for his side's defeat - and is looking for an immediate response.
"We had the better chances and we need to start being ruthless," he added.
"If people are not doing their jobs you have to start falling out with them.
"We need to show determination and aggression and when you cross that white line you have to become a nasty person."
Curle's remedy to the problems his side have faced in the opening two games is simple.
"We need to score goals," he said.
Curle has already hinted that MacKenzie could have earned a place in the starting 11 tomorrow after his display at Oxford.
"We needed that tempo and impetus in midfield that he gave us," said the Stags boss.
"Neil had a point to prove and so have all the other players tomorrow. There are no guarantees."
Curle could be tempted to make a defensive change after Wednesday's game.
Alex John-Baptiste and Dave Artell have started in the centre in the opening two games, but Rhys Day, who has come on as a substitute in both, is hoping for a recall.
Striker Chris Tate will contest the final place in the squad with defenders Luke Dimech and Jake Buxton.
Despite the two defeats so far, Curle is promising fans his side will be promotion contenders this term.
"There are teams at the top of table with two wins who won't finish there - and I guarantee we're not going to finish out of promotion contention.
"I've got no doubt in my mind that we will turn this around."
Stags (probable): Pilkington, McNiven, Eaton, Day, John-Baptiste, Artell, Neil, MacKenzie, Murray, Corden, Asamoah, Larkin, Tate, O'Neill, Curtis, White (k). Possibles: Buxton, Dimech.
CHESTER TEAM NEWS
Next Story | Previous Story | Back to list
12:00 - 13 August 2004
Chester are still on the lookout for a new manager after Mark Wright walked out on the eve of the new campaign, for what he described as "football reasons".
Ray Mathias is in temporary charge and tomorow will be without striker Darryn Stamp and winger Andy Watson, who are both struggling with knee problems.
But left wing-back Kevin McIntyre returns after a two-match ban and right-back Sean Hessey could return after missing the opening two games with concussion.
Danger-man Daryl Clare and fellow striker Michael Branch will be looking to help Chester add to their solitary point so far.
The Blues, who will probably play a 3-4-3 formation, drew 1-1 against Notts County, but slipped to a 2-0 home defeat against Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday, in front of just 2,881 fans.
CHESTER (probable): Brown, Collins, Bolland, Edmondson, Hessey, McIntyre, Drummond, Carden, Harris, Clare, Ellison, Branch, MacKenzie (K), Hope, Davies, Rapley, Belle.
Third time lucky for Stags?
MANSFIELD Town will be hoping to make it third time lucky at Chester on Saturday as the Stags seek their first goal and first point of the season following two defeats.
And they will arrive at the Saunders Honda Stadium with harsh words ringing in their ears from manager Keith Curle after Wednesdays' 1-0 defeat at Oxford United.
Curle watched his side go behind to a sloppy goal and then enjoy only 26 minutes of a one-man advantage after Leo Roget's dimissal before Lee Williamson needlessly levelled it up by getting a red card.
Even so, Stags continued to dominate but failed to net one from a string of goal chances.
"I have 19 players in that dressing room who now need to prove to me that they are ready to wear a Mansfield Town shirt at Chester this Saturday," he snapped.
"We have been beaten by two teams who are not superior to us. We have created chances in both games and I know the goals will come.
"No one is going out on that field at Chester not playing the tempo I want. I don't want to see us give away a single blade of grass on that pitch.
"I have no doubt in my mind that we will turn it around.
"There are teams at the top with two wins who won't finish up there. I guarantee we will finish up there with the contenders for automatic promotion.
"The only pleasing thing is that it is still early enough for the players to learn from it.
"No one's place is safe for Saturday. There are no guarantees. They all have two days training to prove a point to me.
"I was very disappointed in the Oxford result. At half time I told the players they looked like they thought the season was still a fortnight away. I had to remind them they were in a competitive match right then."
Oxford had the first half edge and led by a Tommy Mooney goal. But Curle added: "They'd not had that many chances until nearer the end when the game was a bit stretched as we had to go forward and look for a goal.
"It was a case of we had a team in the deep end and struggling and we didn't put our foot on their heads and get rid of them.
"The goal they scored was pathetic from our point of view. It was a half-chance and a sloppy and needless goal to concede.
"Fair play to their keeper, he played well. But as a football club we need to start being ruthless.
"We had the better of the chances but weren't ruthless enough to put them away. We need to be more nasty when we go out there and cross that white line.
"When we took to the field both myself and John Gannon became nasty people. You do it in the right manner, of course. But we knew that was where we earned our money out there.
"Defenders need to defend, midfielders need to run the midfield and strikers need to take their opportunities."
Curle was very disappointed to see Lee Williamson throw away their man advantage.
"I told Lee Williamson at half-time that, having already been booked, he mustn't go to ground," he said.
"He should have known that, having sent off a home player, a referee would look to even things up if he gave him the chance.
"You cannot afford to go to ground in a one on one unless you are 101 per cent certain of winning the ball
"Their sending-off gave us a lifeline and it looked like it would only be a matter of time before we scored. Then we went and committed suicide by levelling the game up."
One shining light was the performance of second half substitute Neil MacKenzie.
Left out the 16 last weekend, he was bitterly disappointed. And he proved his point well with an influential second half showing.
"We needed that tempo and impetus in midfield and Neil gave us that," said Curle.
Saturday's opponents Chester, back in the League after winning the Conference, are in turmoil right now after manager Mark Wright walked out on them on the eve of the season.
And, after snatching a point with a late equaliser at Notts County on the opening day, they were well beaten at home by Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday, losing 2-0 but it could have been more.
Caretaker boss Ray Mathias was quoted as saying their passing was awful and that it was particularly disappointing that they hadn't managed a shot on target all night.
However, on Saturday Chester will welcome back midfielder Kevin McIntyre who has now completed serving the rest of a three-match ban carried over from last season as well as defender Sean Hessey, who has been out of action for 10 days after suffering from concussion.
Chester's summer signings included several from non-League but they also brought in Bradford City striker Michael Branch who once moved from Everton to Wolves for £500,000.
Latest | August 2004