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Archived News from January 2005

17th January 2005 14:25

Evening Post, 17 January 2005
Peterborough defender Gareth Jelleyman is the latest player being linked with a move to Mansfield Town.

Carlton Palmer is close to securing an 18-month deal for a new left back - and the Stags' caretaker boss has already given Mansfield fans a series of clues as to the identity of the player he wants to sign.

Palmer says Blackpool offered two players in exchange for Wayne Corden, with defensive duo Rob Clare and Simon Grayson touted as possible Stags signings.

Former Mansfield manager Billy Dearden, now assistant boss at Blackpool, denies there has been any contact with the Stags.

Evening Post, 17 January 2005
New signing Shane Smeltz is keen to show Stags caretaker boss Carlton Palmer he is worth signing on a permanent basis.

The New Zealand international striker, who made his Mansfield debut at Rochdale on Saturday, admits the style of play was different to the sort he is used to.

"There were a lot of long balls, but the pitch didn't help," said the striker, who has been signed on a one-month deal.

"I don't think I did too badly. It's just a matter of getting used to the way the game is played here, but I felt okay and I can adapt easily.

"I like it at Mansfield and hopefully I can stay on beyond the month."

Smeltz came face to face with international team-mate Leo Bertos during the game.

Evening Post, 17 January 2005

Carlton Palmer does not believe Saturday's game at Spotland should have been allowed to go ahead.

An area of turf in front of one of the Spotland goals is being dug up and replaced today - at a cost of £4,000.

The game went ahead after two pitch inspections, but the surface started to cut up significantly in the second half.

Rochdale, who share the pitch with a local rugby league club, are having to foot the bill.

The Stags' caretaker boss asked for a postponement on Friday, at the first of two pitch inspections. And he paid tribute to his players after they secured a second successive draw.

"There was no way it should have been played," he said. "The pitch was a great leveller and, considering the conditions, it was a decent game. Both sides tried to pass the ball.

"It was difficult for both sides and I can understand why they wanted the game to go ahead. They would have been fined a lot of money if it hadn't. There were some tired legs at the end and it was a great point for us.

"We were doing well going forward early on but not defensively. We had a problem with their three strikers but we had some good chances. We shaded it in the second half and we might have nicked it at the end.

"We could have gone 2-0 down in the first half and I'm pleased with the way we got back into the game. The players showed commitment and character and the fans got behind us."

Palmer picked out defenders Alex John-Baptiste and Luke Dimech, and striker Richie Barker, for special praise. "We've got the best centre backs in the league and Richie has been outstanding since he came in."

The Stags' caretaker-boss was also pleased with the contribution of debutant Shane Smeltz - and the response of Colin Larkin and Wayne Corden, after below par displays in the previous game against Cambridge.

"Shane did well. He had a couple of chances and you will see how good he is in the next couple of weeks. He's a very good player, but he just needs to adjust to the pace of the game.

"I was pleased with Wayne and Colin. I spoke to them after the Cambridge game about their performances and got the right response."

Meanwhile, Adam Murray, whose absence meant a first Stags appearance for Leighton Maxwell, is the latest Mansfield player facing a spell on the sidelines.

Rhys Day is ruled out for another month, but Tom Curtis and Dave Artell could return in time for the Stags' game at Lincoln on January 29.

"Adam took a heavy knock against Cambridge and might need an operation," said Palmer.

"We've got injury problems, but I'm hoping to tie up the Paul Warne deal this week."

Rochdale manager Steve Parkin says his players should have done more to hold on to their lead.

"The game could have been over in the first 30 minutes and the equaliser was well taken, but it was a terrible goal for us to concede," he said.

"Once you are 1-0 up, if you don't go on to get the second goal, you need to make sure you hold on to your lead.

"Once we had got our noses in front we should have stayed in front and it was two points dropped for us. We're drawing too many games at home.

"Both teams tried to play the right way. The pitch held us back a bit but the ground staff have done a great job and it held up well."

Evening Post, 17 January 2005


Rochdale Utd 1 v 1 Mansfield Town

Carlton Palmer was happy to settle for a point on Saturday, on a pitch which he did not think was playable.

The Spotland surface was better than some pre-match reports suggested, although it cut up considerably in the second half.

And the pitched battle which many travelling fans expected did not really materialise.

Last Tuesday, the Stags turned in a poor display against Cambridge.

They responded with a determined display on Saturday and, while the football played was at times in the direct category, the two sides served up an entertaining clash.

Given the problems with the pitch, some of the passing and attacking play was impressive.

In fact, Rochdale's raids were dangerous and frequent enough to leave them feeling a little hard done by that they didn't build more than a single-goal lead in the first half.

To Mansfield's credit, they dug deep and weathered the storm. And, after Richie Barker levelled the scores with an overhead kick, it changed the game.

The home side were less of a threat after that and Mansfield had chances to conjure up a victory in the second half.

It was a much more encouraging performance than last week's 0-0 draw against Cambridge.

Fans who made the trip to Rochdale witnessed another Stags debut under Carlton Palmer.

And they will have been encouraged by a player who doubles the international honours contingent at Field Mill.

New Zealand striker Shane Smeltz showed enough to suggest that he could fit in well, but it was his international team-mate Leo Bertos who was making all the right moves early on.

Bertos was a livewire in the first half and, until Barker's equaliser, Rochdale looked like they might run away with the game.

Stags at least showed they are prepared to scrap. They have lost just once in seven games and, when you consider that defeat was in unfortunate circumstances at Northampton, it's clear that Mansfield have turned the corner since their woeful run of one win in 17 games.

Palmer's side have won three and drawn three of their last seven games, kept five clean sheets, beaten high-flying Southend away and title-chasing Scunthorpe at home.

The goals for tally still needs addressing but, defensively, Mansfield look sound.

The defence needed to be on form to keep Stags in the game early on.

Alex Neil and Jake Buxton were given a hard time in the first half, but Luke Dimech and Alex John-Baptiste stood firm in the heart of the defence and Kevin Pilkington performed competently behind them.

And Palmer has had to make do without a host of players - including Adam Murray, Tom Curtis, Rhys Day, Dave Artell and Colin Larkin - in recent weeks.

Larkin and Wayne Corden were given second chances after below par displays against Cambridge, but neither shone.

With another wide man waiting in the wings in new signing Adam Rundle, Corden's place in the side must now be under serious threat.

And Larkin will need to get back to something resembling the form he showed earlier in the season if he wants to keep his place, with Barker, Derek Asamoah and Smeltz all battling for front places.

On current form, there's an argument to put him at the back of the queue.

Barker has impressed Palmer with some hard-working performances, Asamoah was in a rich vein of form prior to his two-match ban and Smeltz looks like he could pose a serious threat to Larkin's place in the side.

We are slowly seeing the emergence of Palmer's new-look squad. Leighton Maxwell was steady on his debut, Chris Wood didn't let anyone down in only his second appearance and Simon Brown showed what he is capable of by providing the cross for Barker's goal.

Even Paul Warne could be a Stags player within the next seven days if Palmer has his way, and the Stags boss could unveil a new left-back in time for Saturday's visit of Southend.

The jury is still out on Fraser McLachlan but much talk among fans is about Corden's future.

On his day, the winger is unquestionably one of their most talented and exciting players.

But Palmer is eager to give new players a chance, and, with others set to return, his patience will only stretch so far for the club's highest earner.


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