LARKIN HAS LET ME DOWN SAYS STAGS MANAGER
Observer report by Steve Hartshorn
BROWN AND RUNDLE SINK MARINERS
Field Mill was a happy place to be last weekend as Mansfield Town put to an end a run of five home games without a win. Goals by Simon Brown and Adam Rundle secured a 2-0 victory for The Stags against a resolute looking Grimsby Town side.
However it was not all good news for the players in amber with Manager, Carlton Palmer stating after the game that Stags striker, Colin Larkin would never kick another ball for the Club again after his premature departure from the field through injury.
It was a result that was over due for a Mansfield side who had failed to win in their previous five Field Mill encounters, but who now face the trip to former league leaders, Yeovil Town next Saturday, on the back of a four game unbeaten run.
Stags now look a side full of confidence and although it looks unlikely that there will be an end of season run into the Play Off picture, there is a distinctly happier tune being hummed by their supporters.
Grimsby Town, themselves void of any play off hopes following a less than happy Easter period, turned out a full strength side when many of their local press presumed Manager, Russell Slade would try out some of the younger squad members.
Stags contained three changes from the side that had convincingly won at Kidderminster on bank holiday Monday. Into the side came, Colin Larkin, Gareth Jelleyman and Rhys Day at the expense of, Giles Coke, Scott McNiven and Callum Lloyd, who all started on the bench.
In a fairly subdued opening period it was the visitors who threatened first but Matty Harrold's effort flew well wide.
On 12 minutes, after good work by Colin Larkin, Gareth Jelleyman let fly from 20 yards and wasn't far off target.
But then just 10 minutes later, Larkin picked up a thigh strain and had to be replaced by Giles Coke.
The Mariners then created two good opportunities. The first fell to the feet of Gritton, who controlled the ball well but screwed his attempt wide from just outside the area. The next involved good work by top goalscorer, Andy Parkinson who set up Harrold, but the loanie Grimsby striker put his effort from 12 yards just inches wide of Kevin Pilkington's left hand post.
The Stags took the lead on 36 minutes. Rundle broke down the left hand side, cut in and powered a shot towards goal. The Mariners Keeper, Tony Williams did well to parry Rundle's effort and did even better when he denied Barker from close range, but he could do nothing to stop Simon Brown from finishing with a simple tap in, he second goal in as many games.
The Stags were finishing the half on a high, Rundle again went close as did Brown as Mansfield looked to kill off the game before the half time.
Fraser McLachlan did well on the right hand bye-line and crossed well for Rundle, but again Rundle was wide of the mark.
Just 26 seconds into the 2nd half, McLachlan was booked for a foul in the centre circle on Coldicott. Just seven minutes later he was replaced by Callum Lloyd with Manager, Carlton Palmer thinking there may have been a chance that McLachlan could have eventually sent off.
Grimsby were desperate to get back in the game and had a great opportunity of doing so when a clearance from a corner fell to Fleming. He hit a shot towards goal that bounced just in front of Pilkington where the prowling Gritton tried to force it into the net but was denied by a smothering save from The Stags keeper.
The visitors were beginning to create chances. A good run and cross by Parkinson was only inches away from being converted by Harrold but the striker was just inches away from heading the ball into the empty net.
Pilkington also denied David Soames and watched as a fierce drive from Parkinson flew just over the bar after the Mariners wingman had cut in from the left.
The Stags wrapped up the game in real style. A Grimsby free kick was cleared and Stags sprung onto the attack. A fine through ball from Barker fed Rundle and the tricky Stags winger set off for the visitors' goal. With the Grimsby defence backing off, Rundle made his way into the area, moved the ball onto his right foot and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the Keepers top left hand corner. It was a great goal that was well received by the Field Mill faithful.
In the last minute, Richie Barker broke down the right hand side and could have given The Stags a third, but blazed his effort over the bar.
All in all it was a good afternoon's work at Field Mill. This weekend though The Stags face the tricky trip to former league leaders, Yeovil Town. The once certainties for automatic promotion have hit a bit of a wobble in the last couple of weeks, losing at home to Notts County and last weekend losing away at struggling Rushden & Diamonds. Will The Stags face a backlash, or will they add to Yeovil's misery?
JAKE WON'T GIVE UP...
Evening Post, 04 April 2005
Jake Buxton believes Stags still have an outside chance of pinching a play-off place.
"The gaffer said that football is a freak game and that Grimsby had nothing to lose," he said. "If we keep winning we've still got a chance of getting into the play-offs.
"We've had some good away results, but we haven't been so good at home. We needed to show the fans how we've been playing away. The gaffer deserves better support than he's been getting recently and we put some of the fans in their place.
"We showed that we're not going to switch off, we are going to keep it going until the end of the season.''
LARKIN HAS LET ME DOWN SAYS STAGS MANAGER
Evening Post, 04 April 2005
Carlton Palmer says Colin Larkin has played his last game for Mansfield.
But the Stags boss has changed his mind about Alex Neil and will be offering the Scot a new contract.
He also hinted that defender Rhys Day could still have a future at Field Mill and added that he wants Kevin Pilkington to stay.
Palmer has confirmed that a Championship defender - who can play at centre-back and full-back - has already agreed to join Mansfield in the summer.
He is hoping to sign a pre-contract agreement with a Championship midfielder this week - and says he could put in a bid for a striker to replace Larkin in the next few days.
"I've told Colin that's the end for him," said Palmer. "I need players with heart and desire and the young lads have got it. But I'm really disappointed with Colin.
"He told me he wanted to stay and I'm not accusing him of being a liar, but I'm not convinced about his injury.
"I never missed any games with a dead leg.
"He told me he wanted to stay and had a great game at Bristol Rovers just before the transfer deadline. Then he said he couldn't play because he was injured.
"So now I'm going to have to let him go on a free transfer at the end of the season, when I could have got some money for him."
After missing the previous two games with a dead leg, Larkin was substituted midway through the first half of Saturday's game against Grimsby.
He was struggling with his injury, but Palmer says he had already decided to substitute him at the break as he was not impressed by his input.
"There was only one player who I was concerned about before the game and that was Colin Larkin. His performance was not acceptable - he let me down," he said.
"I question his desire. I need players who want to carry on playing even when they've got knocks. You need that desire to win games."
It's a different story for Neil. The midfielder was told he could leave earlier in the season, but Palmer has been so impressed with the way he has reacted that he has decided to offer him a new deal.
"Alex Neil has grown on me, he's got a good attitude and I will offer him a new contract," said Palmer.
"Rhys Day is another big plus for me. He's knuckled down and worked hard - and Tom Curtis will be back sooner than expected, which is good news.''
The Stags boss has hit back at rumours that Pilkington could leave in the summer.
"Assuming we can agree something with Kevin he will be here next season," said Palmer. "He's not a player I want to let go.''
PALMER'S PLAYERS STARTING TO WIN OVER FANS
Evening Post, 04 April 2005
Mansfield Town 2 v 0 Grimsby Town
The Stags squad which lines up for their first photocall next season will be almost unrecognisable from that which started the current campaign.
Carlton Palmer is the man behind the changing face of the Mansfield Town playing staff - and the manager is convinced he is assembling a group of players who will be good enough to achieve promotion next year.
On Saturday's evidence, significant numbers of fans are coming round to his way of thinking.
Some are still concerned. Fans are still wearing shirts with names of departed players - and next season they won't have Wayne Corden, Derek Asamoah, Neil MacKenzie and Adam Murray to cheer for.
The latest confirmed departure is Colin Larkin.
All five have two things in common.
There is no doubt all of the above are talented but Palmer wants players with hunger, desire and commitment - and he wasn't convinced any of the five had what it takes.
Instead, he is putting his faith in a crop of promising youngsters, with a few experienced pros for good measure.
For Corden, Asamoah, MacKenzie, Murray and Larkin, read Giles Coke, Adam Rundle, Fraser McLachlan, Callum Lloyd, Gareth Jelleyman and Simon Brown.
Fans were booing Palmer a few weeks ago and even took their frustrations out on McLachlan.
At one point, Palmer admitted he wasn't convinced it was worth all the hassle.
But he decided to go for it and, after his appointment had been confirmed, he stepped up the process of rebuilding the squad.
A couple of useful away performances followed at Bristol Rovers and Kidderminster and it came good at home for the Stags on Saturday as the home side recorded a second successive win.
Rundle capped a good performance on the wing with a stunning goal - reminiscent of a Corden strike early in the season.
Jelleyman was in outstanding form and, while Larkin has convinced Palmer he is not worth a new contract, Alex Neil has played his way into the manager's good books.
The likes of Jelleyman and Rundle will be joined at Field Mill by a Championship defender next season and, if Palmer gets his way, a Championship midfielder and a new striker are also on the cards.
Saturday's performance was in complete contrast to the 2-0 defeat against the Mariners in August - both in terms of playing staff on show and performance.
The Stags ended a five-match streak without a victory at Field Mill.
And it was the first time since the 3-1 win against Notts County on October 16 that Mansfield have scored more than once at home.
Grimsby were poor. There was only one side in it from the outset - and the young guns were in good form.
Jelleyman fired wide early on and although Stags were dominating, it took them until the 36th minute to break through.
Rundle's excellent run on the left was typical of the energy and enthusiasm the Stags players displayed on the day.
He cut in and fired in a shot which was only parried. Richie Barker, usually so reliable in one on one situations, saw his shot blocked by Tony Williams in the Grimsby goal, but it rebounded to the unmarked Brown.
Even then, Brown almost made a mess of it, but he managed to bundle the ball inside the far post and Stags were on their way.
And something curious was happening at Field Mill. Fans were chanting Palmer's name and Brown, who some supporters have been sceptical about, is gaining some new admirers.
Grimsby enjoyed a brief flurry late in the first half and, despite the continuing Stags dominance, the game was in the balance until the closing minutes.
Rundle secured the points in spectacular fashion. Barker broke from midfield and set him free in the left channel, and the winger cut inside before rifling a superb shot inside the far post.
Palmer, who says he replaced McLachlan to ensure the midfielder didn't get sent off after he was cautioned for a clumsy challenge, admitted he was about to take Rundle off before his breathtaking strike.
Rundle did come off soon after his goal, giving teenage striker Danny Herron an opportunity for a first-team run out late on.
And so the rebuilding process and the development of young players continues.
Now the fans are keen to find out if Coke will provide fizz next term, or if the likes of Jelleyman will wobble.
What is clear is that they are already passing some early Stags tests - and they made Grimsby look like fish out of water.
Mark Roach's Stags man of the match: Adam Rundle.
Latest | April 2005