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Archived News from August 2004

EVENING POST REPORT AND REACTION
23rd August 2004 15:52



DELIGHTED TO WIN AGAINST HIS OLD SIDE
Evening Post, 23 August 2004

Mansfield midfielder Adam Murray admitted that putting one over on his former club gave him extra satisfaction.

But he says there had been no extra incentive to win the game.

"I'm chuffed," said the former Harriers player. "It was a hard game and it was a battle. The last two games have been like that, we haven't been able to play the way we like to play.

"But to get three points again is good and hopefully we can carry on moving up now.

"It was nice to see some of the lads again, but there wasn't any more incentive because it was Kidderminster, you just want to win every game.

"I give 100% in every game, so the fact it was Kidderminster didn't matter."

Murray believes Stags are good enough for promotion this term, especially after kick-starting their campaign with two wins in a row.

"After our pre-season form, the first two games knocked us for six, we didn't expect that.

"But we've picked up again and we're playing like we know we can and hopefully we can push on from here."

YOU CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN...
Evening Post, 23 August 2004

Mansfield Town 2 v 1 Kidderminster Harriers

How often have we heard Olympic medal winners talk about their success being a culmination of four years of preparation?

It's a similar story with Mansfield Town.

Keith Curle took one day off after the play-off final defeat against Huddersfield in May.

Since his return to work, he has been preparing for one thing and one thing only - promotion.

Even before pre-season started, his aim was to assemble a squad capable of making the jump to League One.

Prior to the start of the League Two campaign, the friendlies and training were geared towards the same thing.

After the defeats against Bristol Rovers and Oxford United, he stated that he had no doubts his side were on course for a successful season.

Success for Curle is promotion, and nothing less. He wants his side to go up automatically and believes the team are capable of winning the division.

Victory in the play-off final would be acceptable. Anything less would be a failure.

Curle is unwavering in his belief in himself and his players. Promotion is the aim, the standard, the expectation.

The former England defender is not an arrogant man, far from it. But he is confident about one thing more than anything, that his side will be in League One this time next year - or, more accurately, that they are good enough to make it happen.

There were doubts after the defeat at Oxford and during the half-time interval at Chester. But Curle did not share them and now the players look like they believe they are a promotion side.

It's a long season and, as the saying goes, one swallow does not make a summer. But it's now two wins on the trot - with a good performance to boot against Kidderminster - and signs that this really is a promotion team in the making.

The league table is even making good reading for Stags fans. It's all part of Curle's masterplan.

He only has three requests from his players - that they put in the effort, apply themselves in the right way, and pick up enough points along the way to secure promotion. He'd settle for a play-off final victory party, but you sense already that he will be frustrated if his side misses out on automatic elevation again.

He wants to win with entertaining football as a bonus. And on Saturday, he got everything he asked for. For all but the first minute.

Curle warned his players not to get caught out by the Kidderminster goalkeeper's big clearances.

So, when his side were 1-0 down after 36 seconds following a big clearance by the Kidderminster keeper, he was not happy. What he got next from his players was promotion credentials. Character, determination, quality - and three points.

Colin Larkin was the star man.

There was an element of willpower to his first goal and a large amount of quality about his second, as he combined with Joe O'Neill for an impressive one-two and a finish to match.

Larkin was on fire. But like a gold medal-winning Olympian who was expected to claim the ultimate prize, he wasn't satisfied that his two goals won the match.

In Olympic terms, he wanted the world record, too.

His former club couldn't cope with his will to win, but he was disappointed he didn't complete his hat-trick.

The width of the post denied him his fourth goal in one-and-a-half games, and other chances came and went for the Irishman.

But Curle can have no complaints. His side won, they played well, they even came back from a goal down to claim three points.

As a bonus, Larkin's double moved them two points closer to early pace-setters Macclesfield.

BUT EVEN A FOOTBALL MANAGER'S BEST-LAID PLANS GO SKEW-WHIFF
Evening Post, 23 August 2004

Stags boss Keith Curle was disappointed with the lack of discipline his side showed in the opening minute of Saturday"s game but delighted with the final manner of their 2-1 victory over Kidderminster.

"It wasn't the ideal start," said the manager.

"We give players a lot of information and we told them that the goalkeeper has got a great kick on him and don"t be surprised by it.

"It was written up on the board in the changing room.

"So what happens? In the first 40 seconds we get surprised by a long boot from the keeper.

"It was a smack on the end of the nose, but the players showed spirit to come back to win.

"It took them ten to 15 minutes to settle down and get into their stride, and then we started causing them problems.

"We wanted to stretch the game out knowing that we had the legs in midfield, and we knew we would cause them problems with our pace up front if we could make the pitch big."

Curle praised Colin Larkin for his two goals - but stressed that he was pleased with the overall team performance.

"Colin Larkin will score goals. He is one of the best finishers in this division but we need to play at the right tempo" added Curle.

"Colin came back for pre-season in great physical condition and he's got the mental strength and belief that he will score goals, as have Derek Asamoah and Joe O'Neill.

"I thought Colin was a threat all game. On another day he could have had four goals. He's a player I know Kidderminster admire and he was a thorn in their side.

"Derek was a threat, and Joe was unlucky with a couple of chances.

"Joe is one of those players like Tom Curtis who do a lot of work which goes unnoticed.

"He creates the spaces for Derek and Colin and his movement is good. He had a couple of chances which didn't go in, but they will do.

"Credit to Kidderminster though, they are going to cause a few upsets. They are going to come away from home and be difficult to beat and they showed that.

"The goalkeeper was outstanding but that's always a good sign for us.

"We didn't get the best of results in the first two games, but we had something to take from the two performances.

"Against Bristol Rovers and Oxford we didn't get our reward, and we could have had five or six against Kidderminster.

"It's always going to be the case that if you don't take your chances you could leave the door open at the back.

"But apart from a few scares, the back four held their line and I thought they mastered most of Kidderminster's attacks."

COLIN THE MAIN MAN FOR JAN
Evening Post, 23 August 2004

Kidderminster boss Jan Molby says he would sign Colin Larkin without hesitation if he was given the opportunity.

The former Liverpool player saw the Irishman bag three points for Stags against his former club with a goal in each half.

Molby said: "If he ever became available I'd love to have him. I like him as a player. I only had him on loan. I tried to sign him when I was at Hull, but couldn't afford him.

"He's always had pace and although he'll never be an out-and-out goalscorer, he'll chip in with his fair few over the course of the season."

Molby also paid tribute to fellow ex-Harriers Adam Murray and Neil MacKenzie but says Larkin was the star man.

"I thought he did well. He had a massive impact on the game and he seems to have got physically stronger.

"The two boys in midfield do what they do, they're good footballers."

The Dane with the Scouse accent believes League Two will be highly competitive.

 

Latest | August 2004