EVENING POST REPORT AND REACTION
'A LITTLE LUCK IS ALL WE NEED'
Evening Post, 24 January 2005
Carlton Palmer says his side performed well enough to claim maximum points against Southend.
"I don't care what anyone says, we played very well and there was not a lot more we could have done," said the Stags caretaker boss. "Their goal was the only opportunity they had in the game. We absolutely tore them to pieces.
"I was disappointed to hear the booing today as I think the fans have had good value for money. I've got no complaints apart from us not having the three points."
"If some supporters have gone home disappointed then I don't know what they expect.
"We didn't have a bad player out there. Southend are fourth in the league, but they were hanging on.
"Their keeper made four quality saves and I thought if we could score, we'd go on to get two or three.
"But they caught us sleeping in with a quick free-kick and that was their only chance all afternoon."
He added: "All we need is a bit of luck. We have only lost once in eight games and if we keep playing like that, we will start winning."
Southend manager Steve Tilson had mixed emotions after completing their League Two fixtures against Mansfield with just one point.
"We wanted the three points but Mansfield have only lost once in eight games, so we have to be pleased with a point," he said. "Carlton Palmer has done a tremendous job for them and this was always going to be a tough game."
IS STAGS' GLASS HALF EMPTY OR HALF FULL?
Evening Post, 24 January 2005
Mansfield Town 1 v 1 Southend
It is difficult to assess whether this was a point gained or two lost for Mansfield.
A draw at home to a side chasing automatic promotion from League Two seems a good result, especially when you consider that Stags have managed four points from their two games against Southend this season.
Another positive caretaker-manager Carlton Palmer was quick to point out after the game was that his side have only lost once in eight games.
Stags are unbeaten in four games, a run which was started by a victory against high-flying Scunthorpe.
However, the pessimists among the Mansfield fans will point to just one win in five games as a poor run for their side.
They will probably also claim that three successive draws is not the form for a side serious about earning a play-off place.
There are extenuating circumstances. Stags have been hit hard by a series of injuries and Palmer is not working with what can be described as a settled side.
But many fans see Palmer"s tenure as a transitional period for the club and believe the play-offs are a pipe dream now.
What is important is that Palmer and his players still have the belief that they can be playing in League One next term.
It"s not inconceivable.
There are still 18 games left and a good run-in to the end of the campaign could extend the Stags" season.
Palmer"s side are just a couple of wins away from the play-off zone as it is. A win against Southend would have fired Mansfield up to tenth place and they have a chance to gain ground on fellow play-off hopefuls Lincoln on Saturday.
Once again, Palmer had to field a patched-up side.
He can"t call on the services of Paul Warne, for the time being at least, Neil MacKenzie and Joel Kitamirike are no longer Stags players and Fraser McLachlan, Rhys Day, Tom Curtis, Dave Artell, Adam Eaton and Scott McNiven are all sidelined.
An indication of the severity of the problems is that no players with squad numbers from two to five were available. On top of that, Adam Murray and Colin Larkin are not fully fit.
At least Palmer was able to name four genuine first-team outfield players on the bench, including recent signings Shane Smeltz and Adam Rundle. And he was able to name four defenders for a change.
Before the arrival of former Peterborough full-back Gareth Jelleyman, Palmer had just three fit defenders to choose from.
Jelleyman made an impressive debut at left-back, with the unusual sight of Jake Buxton being able to play in his more favoured right-back position.
That meant a role in midfield for Alex Neil, but the Stags" injury crisis meant Neil had to play in the centre of midfield.
Wayne Corden admitted after the game that he has endured a poor run of form by his own standards in recent weeks.
But he kept his place and fellow winger Rundle is still waiting to make his first Stags appearance.
One area Palmer has plenty of options in is up front.
He kept faith with Richie Barker and Larkin as his strike pair, adding more fuel to speculation that Derek Asamoah could move on before the end of the campaign.
An on-form Larkin would probably have made more of a chance created by Barker after just 30 seconds but his first touch let him down.
It soon became apparent that Palmer has added another attacking option by signing Jelleyman, who won a corner in the eighth minute after abandoning his defensive duties in favour of supporting a Stags attack.
If Saturday"s display is typical from Jelleyman and he stays fit, Palmer has made a key signing. While the passing lacked fluency and finesse at times, it was a fairly entertaining and end-to-end game as both sides created some good chances.
And Stags can feel a little aggrieved they failed to convert one point into three, with visiting keeper Daryl Flahavan producing some acrobatics to keep Palmer"s men at bay.
Leicestershire official Kevin Friend was probably right not to award Stags a penalty when Simon Brown"s attempted pass struck Lewis Hunt"s arm in the 17th minute.
It was definitely a case of ball to hand rather than the other way around although it did start something of a theme for Stags, who created several good opportunities but failed to make the majority of them count.
Freddie Eastwood was a livewire at the other end in the first half and, although Larkin has not produced the form he showed earlier in the season since returning to the side, he still managed some key contributions as Mansfield went close to securing a six-point haul against Southend this season.
The striker"s angled shot was deflected wide early on, and Larkin started a good Stags move which ended with his tame shot at Flahavan late in the first half.
Brown and Jelleyman went close before half-time and, after the introduction of Asamoah in place of Larkin at the break, Stags caused plenty of problems for the visitors in the second half.
Palmer talked afterwards about being pleased with his side"s performance.
But, ultimately, Flahavan was beaten just once, courtesy of Murray"s fourth goal of the campaign -- and it wasn"t enough for victory.
One of the game"s key moments saw Alex John-Baptiste"s header tipped over spectacularly from a Corden free-kick and a near miss for a 2-0 Stags lead was followed by a Southend equaliser three minutes later.
The Mansfield defence, who have enjoyed a rich vein of form, were caught napping as Southend took a free-kick quickly, Gower and Eastwood exchanged passes, and Gower converted from seven yards.
One of the problems with Palmer"s assessment that his side have been playing well is that the Stags have not won since beating Scunthorpe at Field Mill on January 3.
They have not scored more than one goal in a game since their 3-1 success against Notts County three months ago.
And, while the defence is looking solid, the lack of goalscoring power continues to hamper Stags in their bid to climb into the top seven.
Stags' man of the match: Luke Dimech
THANKS STAGS - KITAMIRIKE
Evening Post, 24 January 2005
Former Mansfield Town defender Joel Kitamirike says he is grateful to Carlton Palmer for helping him to get his career back on track.
The ex-Chelsea and Brentford player sealed a surprise switch to Dundee last week after playing just two games for Mansfield.
Kitamirike (pictured) had a break from football in the summer and was without a club this season.
But Keith Curle offered him a chance to train at Field Mill, and Palmer signed him on a non-contract basis in time to make his debut at Southend on December 28.
"The move to Dundee came out of the blue," said Kitamirike, who played for Chelsea's first team in the UEFA Cup.
"I'd like to thank Carlton Palmer. I'm grateful for what he did. Everyone made me very welcome at Mansfield and I don't have a bad word to say about the club."
COURT THREAT OVER CURLE...
Evening Post, 24 January 2005
The League Managers' Association are to start High Court proceedings in support of former Stags boss Keith Curle.
The association says that Mansfield Town have been "given every opportunity" to reach a settlement with Curle, who was sacked by the club on December 17 following a suspension.
A statement says: "The League Managers Association have been left with no option other than to commence High Court proceedings."
Curle's former assistant John Gannon, who is still suspended on full pay after allegedly using foul and abusive language, is still waiting to hear when his case will be addressed by the club.
Defender Scott McNiven was in the stands on Saturday.
The right-back will find out on February 11 if a course of radiotherapy has cured his testicular cancer.
The 26-year-old, who has undergone an operation, said: "I'm just taking things day by day."
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