PREVIEWS AND EARLY TEAM NEWS
DEFENCE WILL SEE US THROUGH
Evening Post, 08 February 2005
STEVIE RODEN TALKS TO STAGS KEEPER KEVIN PILKINGTON
Kevin Pilkington believes Mansfield's improved defence holds the key if they are to make the League Two play-offs.
The 30-year-old goalkeeper has been impressed at the way the Stags have toughened up at the back.
The Field Mill side have conceded only six goals in their last ten games - keeping five clean sheets in the process.
Pilkington says if that continues, Mansfield can make inroads into the seven-point gap between themselves and the play-offs.
And that starts with tonight's visit of Swansea, when they have the chance to reduce the gap to four points with their game in hand.
Pilkington said: "One of the pleasing things for me is that we are defending well at the back and as a unit.
"It is important we keep that up. We have not changed much in our training routine but we have been working on our shape when we are defending.
"It makes us a lot harder to break down and we need to continue to build on that because if you are not conceding goals, you have always got a chance.
"It has been very tight among the top seven all season but we are not many points off the play-offs. It is pointless aiming for anything less.
"We have two home games this week and you have to be looking to win those and then away from home anything is a bonus."
Swansea beat Mansfield 1-0 at The Vetch in October when Adrian Forbes scored in the 89th minute. And the Welsh side, who are joint top of League Two, have not lost in their last five league games. Their last defeat came on New Year's Day at home to Yeovil.
But Mansfield are also enjoying a run of good form after beating Notts County 1-0 on Saturday. They have lost only two matches out of their last ten.
Pilkington said: "Everybody is in a positive frame of mind, especially after the victory against Notts.
"It is always nice to beat your local rivals, so to do the double over them is great.
"It will be a difficult game against Swansea. It was a close one down there and they scored in the last minute. It is never a nice place to go but hopefully we can turn the tables and get the victory at Field Mill.
"They are joint top but we can beat them.
"We have got to back up the win from Saturday with another strong display and get another three points.
"It is important we don't get carried away after beating Notts because Swansea are a top side."
And despite there being a lot of new faces brought to the club by caretaker manager Carlton Palmer since he took over from Keith Curle, Pilkington said team morale was very good.
He said: "It was a difficult period a few months ago with all the rubbish that was happening and we did not know where we were.
"But the lads have come through it and it was very pleasing and it is nice to know everybody has stuck together, the mood is great and we are keeping clean sheets and winning games.
"There have been a lot of new players come into the club.
"Richie Barker has been unbelievable up front. He has done ever so well and it is very pleasing to see and his work rate is very good.
"But all the lads have bonded and that is helping us.
"Now we need to continue to push on and get the victories to move us up the table."
MANSFIELD: (from) Pilkington, Neil, Buxton, John-Baptiste, Jelleyman, Asamoah, Murray, Curtis, Rundle, Barker, Smeltz, Brown, White, Lambu, McIntosh, McLachlan.
TRUNDLE ALONG TO ADD TO HIS TALLY
Evening Post, 08 February 2005
In-form Swansea striker Lee Trundle will visit Mansfield this evening looking to add to his tally of 17 goals.
Trundle has just been awarded the Player of the Month award for League Two after firing five goals in January.
And he will line up this evening against a Stags side that has conceded only six goals in their last ten matches.
Swansea are joint top of the league with Yeovil and Scunthorpe with 56 points but lie in third because of goal difference.
However, the other two are not in action until the weekend so a draw or a win against the Stags will see the Welsh outfit go top.
But Swansea will be without stand-in skipper Andy Gurney who was taken off in the clash with Southend on Friday night with a gashed leg.
However, club captain Roberto Martinez will return to take his place.
Sam Ricketts has been called up to the Wales squad to face Hungary tomorrow night so will not travel to Field Mill. He is likely to be replaced with either Alan Tate or Ijah Anderson.
SWANSEA (from): Gueret, Austin, Monk, Iriekpen, Britton, Robinson, Maylett, Martinez, Connor, Trundle, Murphy, Tate, Anderson, Pritchard, Fisken, Jones.
Stags set for Swansea showdown
CHAD website, 07 February 2005
MANSFIELD Town face a stern home test from promotion-chasing Swansea City at Field Mill tomorrow night (7.45pm).
The sides built up an intense rivalry last season after the infamous clash at Vetch Field which saw Stags finish with nine men.
And, although the manager and personnel have largely changed, Stags caretaker-manager Carlton Palmer has told his side to keep their discipline.
"We are under no illusions how tough it will be tomorrow," he said.
"I have seen Swansea a couple of times and I've liked what I've seen - in fact they are probably the best side in our division.
"They are a good footballing side. but they are also very tough and intimidating physically and we mustn't get involved
"I think their two centre forwards tend to throw their elbows around a bit and I will be having a word with the referee before the game. I will also tell him to watch their centre backs as I think Richie Barker gets fouled an awful lot.
"Swansea and ourselves have the two best defensive records in the division so I don't think it will be a feast of goals. But if one goal settles it we have to make sure it is us that scores it.
"We have already beaten Scunthorpe and Southend and we are looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.
"The lads have been in buoyant mood after Saturday's win at Notts County and now having two home games this week is a great opportunity for us."
Striker Colin Larkin, who was told he could leave the club, is back in the squad after clear-the-air talks with Palmer today.
"Colin has told me he wants an opportunity to prove himself and be part of what we are doing so he is back in the fold. Now it's up to him," said Palmer.
Luke Dimech continues his three-game suspension.
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