EVENING POST REPORT AND REACTION
DISLEY TO STAY WITH ROVERS
Evening Post, 21 March 2005
Craig Disley says he is unlikely to return to Mansfield Town next season.
The midfielder left Field Mill last summer - and Carlton Palmer has tried to lure him back.
"I heard some rumours about me going back to Mansfield," said Disley.
"I haven't spoken to Carlton Palmer, but it may be that he has spoken to Ian Atkins.
"I'm settled here and will probably have at least one more season with Rovers."
LADS JUST GREAT - PILKINGTON
Evening Post, 21 March 2005 Stags keeper Kevin Pilkington had mixed emotions after seeing Mansfield score four goals but fail to claim maximum points.
"We played some good football and to score four goals away from home is always good," he said. "But the referee helped them out a huge amount.
"I don't think either penalty should have been given. We've conceded four goals but there were a lot of positives to take from the game.
"The young lads in midfield were different class. They did ever so well - I was really pleased for all of them.
"We're a young side and it might take a while to gel, but we're looking to build on Saturday's performance."
PALMER PLEA TO THE FANS
Evening Post, 21 March 2005
Carlton Palmer has called on fans to encourage the side's young players.
"The fans who travel a long way to watch the team seem to give the players a chance more," said the Stags boss.
"The young players will get better and I'd just like our fans to give them a chance to show what they can do.
"We've had a lot of injury problems and we've still got on with it and got results."
Palmer, who was sent off at half-time for comments he made to referee Grant Hegley, thought the Herts official got one of the penalty decisions wrong, but says he understood why Rovers were awarded a penalty in the second half.
"I asked the referee what the penalty was for in the first half. We are all entitled to be critical - the referee was poor and I was not afraid to say so.
"If the FA want to fine me for what I said, they should have a look at the video of the game.
"I asked the players to show character and determination, something which was lacking against Oxford, and the players gave me that. We played some excellent football. We were the better side.
"I was delighted with Fraser McLachlan and Callum Lloyd, I thought he was superb - and Giles Coke did brilliantly considering he was playing for Kingstonian the weekend before.
"It felt like a defeat on Saturday because we were 4-2 up, but the performance bodes well for the future."
Evening Post, 21 March 2005
Bristol Rovers 4 v 4 Mansfield Town
The rest of this season is rapidly turning into Carlton Palmer's very own footballing version of Pop Idol.
And the prizes are 2005-2006 squad places for those who catch his eye.
Stags' own Simon Cowell has already told the likes of Adam Rundle and Richie Barker they are winners. But for Tom Curtis and other Keith Curle players, the chances of a bright future at Field Mill are as likely as Pop Idol flop Rick Waller selling out the Millennium Stadium.
The 189 Stags fans who made the trip to Bristol saw plenty of promise in Palmer's young charges - but it won't just be teenagers lining up in the Stags strip next term.
Scott McNiven and Barker made valuable contributions, with Barker scoring twice and setting up a first Stags goal for young midfielder Callum Lloyd.
Barker was the visitors' star but the real highlight for Palmer in an eight-goal thriller was how his young guns applied themselves.
Jake Buxton's immediate future as a Stags player is not in doubt and a young midfield showed the likes of substitute Adam Murray why fitness, character, determination and application are as important as raw talent.
Debutant Giles Coke showed promise, Lloyd's goal was just reward for a spirited display and travelling fans witnessed what was arguably Fraser McLachlan's best game for Mansfield.
Fellow young gun Rundle performed well on the left to complement what was an excellent show by an inexperienced midfield.
And there was another plus. Colin Larkin showed why Palmer is still considering offering him a new deal with his sharpest recent performance, capped by a stunning strike 42 seconds after the interval.
It was just one highlight in a thrilling encounter which saw Stags trail 2-1 and lead 4-2 before having to settle for a point.
The 2005-2006 pre-season campaign seems to have started three months early, with a lot of promise.
With play-off hopes all but dead, Palmer's main concern is rebuilding for a promotion challenge next term.
After an awful 3-1 defeat against Oxford, Saturday's remarkable draw left them ten points adrift of the play-offs with eight games left.
But it was effectively the start of a run of games to the end of the campaign during which Palmer can assess players and shape the Stags ahead of next season.
It's a good plan. Palmer is putting the foundations in place and will be able to get players fit during the summer, before fine-tuning them before the start of next season.
And it's clear his aim is to add quality young players, who he can nurture and slot into a side which could have the sort of impact next time round that Stags fans expected this term.
Even if Palmer's initial contract does not end with promotion next May, the signs are already pointing to a good season ahead.
It's also clear that if the fans who have booed the new boss tune in to what he is trying to do, and get behind the side, it could rub off on the players in a positive way.
The older heads are experienced enough to deal with flak from fans, but teenage players can be more sensitive to negative feedback.
There are a growing number of young players and the stats don't lie: Mansfield are better away.
Supporters pay money to see their side and are entitled to their opinions.
But one of the contributing factors in some poor recent home performances, compared to some good away displays, could be the sometimes hostile environment at Field Mill.
Stags have failed to score more than one goal in any home game since the 3-1 triumph against Notts County in mid-October.
But there have been a couple of 2-0 away wins since Palmer first took the reins on a caretaker basis - and those who did not travel missed a display of fine attacking football.
The defending left a bit to be desired, although Rovers looked sharp on the break.
Mansfield fielded a makeshift back-line shorn of the services of Alex John-Baptiste and Gareth Jelleyman, and the home side were aided by a couple of controversial penalty decisions.
There are good excuses and bad excuses, but Palmer was only able to name one fully fit defender in his side, Luke Dimech, and the chances of the Maltese international pulling on a Stags shirt next season are about as likely as Palmer earning an England recall.
They also included Buxton, still troubled by a groin problem, and McNiven, who is well short of match-fitness, with Alex Neil making up the numbers. Neil is another player who looks set to be on his way, as does Rhys Day - who didn't even make it into the 16.
The day's drama included Palmer's half-time sending off for questioning referee Grant Hegley's penalty award.
Hegley judged an innocuous tumble by Lewis Haldane was worth a penalty.
With Palmer banished to the stands, Stags raced into a 3-2 lead inside the first four minutes of the second half, courtesy of Larkin and Barker, and Barker's cut-back set up Lloyd for Stags' fourth.
Another dubious penalty and a late equaliser denied Mansfield maximum points.
Stags man of the match: Richie Barker.
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