DARLINGTON V STAGS, WILLIAMSON MOTORS STADIUM, 7.30PM
Evening Post, STEVIE RODEN, 07 December 2004
Stags caretaker-manager Carlton Palmer believes his side's break from football will help them beat Darlington.
Mansfield Town have enjoyed a ten-day rest since their 1-0 defeat against Leyton Orient.
And, after getting to know his players more during that time, Palmer is confident he can net his first win in charge of Mansfield tonight.
He said: "It has been useful and they have been working very hard.
"It has also given me a chance to assess the fitness levels of the players and look at what needs to be done.
"But we lost Jason Talbot because he has been in hospital and might require an operation to remove an infection from his toe."
Meanwhile, Palmer has tied up the signing of midfielder Simon Brown from West Bromwich Albion.
He has been trying to make the deal for a fortnight and it was completed yesterday for an undisclosed fee.
Brown will be on the bench for tonight's trip to Darlington, while striker Derek Asamoah returns after a three-match ban.
Colin Larkin is still sidelined after being taken to hospital with appendicitis and Dave Artell is suspended.
Alex John-Baptiste returns as captain after serving a one-match ban.
Palmer said: "When we played against Leyton Orient the players tired in the second half and all I had was kids on the bench.
"But, having Brown will help add another option. He is very, very quick and sharp and can play down the left, right or the middle.
"And having Derek back is a big plus because he was very lively in the game against Colchester before he was sent off.
"We need to get that continuity and understanding and the results will follow.
"Before I came in as caretaker-manager we had won one in 11 and you have to ask why that was. This team is much better than that.
"But we will go to Darlington full of confidence. Everyone is capable of beating each other in this league and you give everybody the respect they deserve.
"We have got a system that we are going to play and we will do our best and work as hard as we possibly can."
Darlington are without captain Craig Liddle who will be out for six weeks with a stomach problem.
The experienced defender has returned after a month out but his old injury has flared up and he needs an operation.
It comes as the Quakers thought their injury problems were coming to an end.
Brian Close is suspended for tonight's match but Matthew Clarke is back in the squad.
MANSFIELD (from): Pilkington, Buxton, Dimech, John-Baptiste, Corden, Murray, Curtis, Neil, Warne, Barker, Asamoah, White, McIntosh, Wood, Lloyd, Herron.
DARLINGTON (from): Russell, Valentine, Clarke, Kendrick, Wainwright, Maddison, Keltie, Webster, St'Juste, Clark, Wijnhard, Armstrong, Convery, McGurk, Hignett, Price.
Brown signs as Stags head north
IN an age of Bosmans and free transfers, League Two Mansfield Town made a serious investment in the future when a £100,000 deal secured the services of West Brom winger Simon Brown yesterday.
Brown (21) will cost the Stags £50,000 plus a further performance-related £50,000 on a deal running initially for 18 months with another's year option after that for the club.
But he may have to wait fir his first team chance as he is only expected to be on the bench when Stags take on Darlington at the Williamson Motors Stadium tonight (7.30pm).
"This is serious money - not just at our level but for any level these days," said chairman Keith Haslam.
"People must realise the big transfer days have gone and we are spending significant money here based on ability and potential.
"Forest recently made a bid of £50,000 for Steve Howard, who has scored 14 goals in League One this season.
"But we are very pleased to sign Simon. Like Richie Barker, he says he wants to come here and win things and it is nice to bolster the squad with people coming here with the right attitude.
"Simon Brown is one the brightest young talents in our division - he has pace and can score goals too.
"West Brom rate him very highly as is reflected in the fee."
Caretaker-manager Carlton Palmer had hoped to sign the promising youngster in time to face Leyton Orient last week but West Brom stalled on the deal and the deadline for him to sign in time to play passed by.
However, Palmer continued talks and terms were finally agreed on Friday and he signed on Monday.
Brown had been a substitute for the Baggies in the Premiership two seasons back without coming on.
He went on loan to Kidderminster at the end of last season, scoring his first League goals and returned to Aggborough this season, again on loan.
Brown trained with the Stags last week and always remained hopeful the deal would be done.
"Simon has great pace and great ability and we are delighted to sign him," said caretaker-manager Carlton Palmer.
"Now both Wayne Corden and Derek Asamoah know we have a replacement on the bench if they are not doing the business.
"We now have a lot of pace in attacking areas which you need at this level as the defenders are not the quickest."
Palmer has also signed former Welsh U21 international central midfielder Layton Maxwell (25) on non-contract terms.
Maxwell, a former Liverpool trainee who has had spells with Stockport, Cardiff and Swansea, has been at Field Mill for a couple of months and played in one or two reserve friendlies.
Under Keith Curle, nothing had been offered to Maxwell, but Palmer sees his experience as useful to bolster his threadbare squad and is offering Maxwell a chance to win something more permanent.
He will also be in the squad for tonight's game with Alex John-Baptiste and Derek Asamoah returning from suspension.
However Dave Artell will sit out a one-game ban.
Palmer said: "It will be nice to have some competition for places.
"Simon will be in the squad. But I was pleased with Derek before he was suspended and will probably start with him on the right."
Richie Barker and Paul Warne will play their second games for the Stags and hoping to find the net as Stags have now gone 404 minutes without a League goal.
For Darlington, in ninth spot a point off the play-offs, the influential Craig Liddle will be missing for six weeks while Brain Close is suspended.
But Craig Hignett is available again after shaking off a hamstring strain.
Darlington v Mansfield
Darlington captain Craig Liddle has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a recurrence of a stomach injury.
Defender Brian Close is suspended but Matt Clarke is available again after a ban, while Craig Hignett and Curtis Fleming are set to return after injury.
Mansfield include new signings Simon Brown and Leyton Maxwell, who has joined on a non-contract basis.
Dave Artell is suspended and Fraser McLachlan (knee) and Jason Talbot (toe infection) are both out injured.
By Scott Thornberry
Darlington have been dealt another blow with the news that Craig Liddle will be sidelined for another six weeks after failing to shrug off a stomach strain. Also Quaker Tv has some great giveaways and it's 'Bang Your Drum For Darlo' day!
At last, a Darlo game. With The Quakers last playing away at Cheltenham a week gone Friday it seems an eternity. But on Tuesday night Darlo entertain Mansfield and will be looking to stay in the top half play off push. Only one point behind seventh place Darlington are superbly positioned. With the likes of Craig Hignett and Curtis Fleming returning from injury things were looking quite good. But today it has been revealed Craig Liddle will be out for around six weeks.
Liddle has already been out of action with a leg problem but has also been suffering with a stomach strain. He recently returned but the stomach problem has not gone away and he has now been told an operation is the only way forward if he doesn't want to do lasting damage to his body.
Brian Close will miss the game through suspension after picking up his fifth booking away at Cheltenham Town, but Matt Clarke returns after serving his one match ban for picking up five yellow cards.
Craig Hignett has declared himself fit and talking to the Northern Echo he says he wants to get back into the action. "I've been back in training for over a week and I feel alright," said Hignett.
"There were no problems at Donny so it's up to the gaffer now. I can't feel any kind of tweak in my hamstring and it's just a case of getting a few games played now."
But he also realises that he can't rush himself back. "I'd not played football regularly for a long time and to go from that to playing six games on the spin probably had a lot to do with it. I've got to be careful and I'm sure the gaffer won't be taking any risks."
Geordie Quaker bangs his drum
Meanwhile Darlington Football Club are urging all fans to 'bring along a drum' for this game. It is hoped that the introduction of alot of drums would improve the atmsosphere and help the team on the pitch.
Four percussion specialists from Catterick Garrison's Normandy Band have accepted Quakers' chairman Stewart Davies' invitation to join him in the directors' box to lead the drumming so it should be something to look at.
The chairman told the Northern Echo "These are very exciting times at the club and I think this drumming initiative is one of many ways we can generate a great atmosphere at our home matches."
"Taking three points from games like the Mansfield match is crucial if we are to achieve our goal of promotion this season and it's important that the fans turn out in force to cheer the lads on."
Latest | December 2004