PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS
CONFIDENT STAGS HUNGRY FOR WINS
Evening Post, 10 September 2004
Keith Curle wants his players to be hungry this season. The Stags boss selects from a fully fit squad - which was reduced to 18 players this week following Lee Williamson's move to Northampton.
And he could field an unchanged starting line-up for a second game running at Cambridge tomorrow, after a second 4-1 win in a row against Northampton.
That would mean Adam Murray, Adam Eaton and Tom Curtis have to settle for substitute appearances at best.
One player who has benefited from a spell on the bench is Wayne Corden.
The winger was dropped after the defeat at Oxford, but has started the last two games and has found the net three times in the two big wins.
"Wayne's hungry, he's got that desire," said Curle. "John Gannon has been doing some work in training with Wayne to get him to cut inside and put them inside the near post at pace.
"All the players need to perform on match days and in training.
"When you have a small squad, players have to be prepared mentally when they get their chance."
Colin Larkin is one of only a handful of players who have started every game so far.
The striker has missed a few chances this term, but is the Stags' top scorer this term with five goals.
"It's no surprise to me that Colin Larkin gets three chances a game," said Curle.
"That doesn't just happen, he works at it. Sometimes he'll get three chances and only score one, but it's important to create chances."
Curle took the opportunity to watch tomorrow's opponents on Saturday. "I went to see Cambridge and John Gannon went to watch Rochdale," he said.
"We used the available Saturday to do our scouting work and Cambridge are beatable."
Curle's side travel to Cambridge in confident mood after the big win against Northampton. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of that performance was that the players were full of running in the hot conditions.
"We're fit," said Curle. "We will adapt to whatever conditions we have to play in.
"The pleasing thing was the performance level.
"We played free-flowing football and looked dangerous in attack.
"Every time we crossed into their half we looked bright. You could tell from looking at the players eyes they were on it.
"The goals came at the right times and we looked dangerous. All over the park there is belief - and belief is a massive thing."
A switch to 4-4-2 has paid handsome dividends in the last two games, but Curle refuses to rest on his tactical laurels.
"There will be some games when formations might change to suit us.
"I will adapt as and when required, but won't take any focus away from what we want to do."
STAGS: Pilkington, McNiven, Buxton, Artell, Day, John-Baptiste, MacKenzie, Neil, Corden, Larkin, Asamoah, O'Neill, Tate, Murray, Curtis, White, Eaton, Dimech.
SKIPPER RULED OUT WITH KNEE INJURY
Evening Post, 10 September 2004
Cambridge are missing several players for tomorrow's visit of the Stags.
Captain Luke Gutteridge is ruled out with a knee injury. He has also been suffering from a chest infection and has been away from the club for a week for personal reasons.
Winger Shane Tudor is out of action with a hamstring injury, centre back Warren Goodhind is ruled out with a groin strain and Danny Webb is very doubtful with a knee injury.
Cambridge were hoping to sign former QPR and Swansea striker Dennis Oli this week after the trialist scored in a reserve game on Tuesday.
Young midfielder Kingsley Mbome, a former Cameroon Under-20 captain, made his debut against Boston on Saturday and is expected to start.
Strikers Dan Chillingworth and John Turner could return from injury, but fellow frontman Jermaine Easter could be left out after a poor run of form.
The U's have scored just five goals so far this season, all of them in the second half. They have so far failed to score more than one goal in a game.
Cambridge: Ruddy, Latte-Ye, Duncan, Stevangus, Tann, Nicholls, El Kholti, Mbome, Walker, Chillingworth, Turner, Marshall, Easter, Quinton, Gleeson, Beech, Oli.
STAGS RETURN TO SCENE OF AMAZING TRIUMPH
THIS Saturday Mansfield Town return to the scene of one of their greatest triumphs last season.
And manager Keith Curle is urging his in-form side, who have netted eight goals in two games, to first and foremost avoid defeat.
Mansfield won 2-1 at Cambridge United against all the odds last season with an incredible backs-to-the-wall performance, playing the second half with only nine men.
Northampton Town were shot down 4-1 at Field Mill on Sunday like Yeovil Town the week before them and Curle said: "We want to build on those results at Cambridge and first and foremost we want to make sure we don't get beaten.
"That is not being negative. If we can do that we can then try to earn the right to play our football and we know we can score goals.
"But we need to make sure we are difficult to beat away from home and if we have to grind out a 0-0 here and there then we will do that and take the point."
Curle has warm memories of that amazing game at Cambridge last season, though he ended it banished to the stands after a row with a local policeman who prevented him reaching the referee at the break.
"We had a siege mentality that day," he said. "It was tin hats time. But I believe a unity was born out of that game, not just among the players but also among the fans who were trying to blow the ball away from our goal from behind it.
"It was a day when everything was stacked against us but we rose to the challenge magnificently."
Ironically Curle met up with his 'nemisis in blue' last weekend for the first time.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I went to watch Cambridge at Boston and I couldn't find anywhere to park.
"I pulled up to ask a policeman, as you do, and it was him. I never forget a face,
"And he was about as much use to me as he was at Cambridge as he was unable to assist!"
Curle has a fully fit squad to choose from with Adam Eaton, Tom Curtis, Lee Williamson, Adam Murray, Joe O'Neill and Chris Tate all given a chance to shake off some rust when they played in a specially-arranged reserve friendly at Nottingham Forest this afternoon.
Cambridge have suffered a poor start to the season, picking up just six points from their first seven games - scoring only five times - and are 21st in the table, just a point off the bottom.
Their only victory was a home win over Shrewsbury Town on 14th August.
In addition they have had home draws with Leyton Orient and also picked up a 1-1 draw at Darlington and a 0-0 draw at Southend United.
The U's have strengthened their squad with the signing of former Cameroon U20 international Kingsley Mbome, who has signed a one-year deal.
Last weekend's Sunday clash with Northampton Town proved a big success as 5,173 fans watched Stags comprehensively see off their Play-off semi-final opponents from last season.
Manager Curle said: "The scoreline was immaterial, it was the performance level we were looking for. Some people were wondering if the Yeovil result was a flash in the pan, this performance illustrated it wasn't.
"Yeovil and Northampton are two very good teams with very good managers who like to play football the right way. But on Sunday Northampton caught Mansfield Town on fire.
"I was disappointed to give a soft goal away after taking an early lead.
"At half-time I felt that when we got the first goal we took our foot off the pedal and didn't keep the tempo as high as I wanted. I demanded that we kept that tempo going in the second half and score the goals our play deserved. If not I know teams like Northampton have a habit of coming back and shocking you.
"It's pleasing we are sharing the goals around. Derek Asamoah will be a problem for a lot of teams this season as will Colin Larkin. People keep telling me we need a big target man who will rough up defenders – why?
"And Wayne Corden is showing he is hungry and has the desire to keep his place after getting back in the team.
"It was a hot day but it doesn't matter if it's red hot or freezing cold, my players have all the necessary physical attributes to cope.
"I know I get judged every game. But I keep saying the table won't mean too much until we have all played 10-12 games. I would say to people – judge me at the end of the season."
Former Stags star Colin Calderwood, now Northampton boss, was far from happy with his side's efforts and said: "As sunny as it was, it was a black day for us. It was a calamitous day and a calamitous result from a really poor performance.
"The third goal was the decisive one. We looked like we could do nothing to change it. We didn't have enough about us to get back into it.
"There were too many under-par performances all over the pitch and we just had to sit and suffer in the sun.
"It's all about showing a bit of responsibility. On the face of it, it looks like I picked the wrong team. If you are in the side you fight to keep the shirt. After this I may have to make some adjustments.
"You can't blame bad luck or the referee. This was a good defeat and we always seem to get a good defeat by Mansfield once a season!"
Mansfield Town have announced ticket prices for the LDV Vans Trophy clash with Darlington at Field Mill on Tuesday, 28th September. They will be £10 adults and £5 concessions.
Latest | September 2004