FOOTBALL POST: BARKER INTERVIEW
Football Post article:
transcribed by carole
“I don't think we should be scared of our rivals”
MANSFIELD Town striker Richie Barker is set to captain the Stags at the start of the season. And the former Rotherham man is raring to go in his first full season in a Stags shirt. STEVIE RODEN reports:
DESPITE only just turning 30, Richie Barker is by far the most senior figure ready to line-up for the start of the new season.
He stepped down two leagues from the Championship last November to join Carlton Palmer's Field Mill revolution.
And after firing ten goals in 28 starts, displaying a gritty determination to fight for the Mansfield cause, he became an instant favourite among the fans.
Now, after a hard pre-season, he is looking lean and ready for his first full season as a Mansfield player. And he is ready to use his experience to help the younger players in the squad and ensure a successful campaign for Mansfield.
He said: There is a new focus to the squad and we know we can get off to a great start. It is always difficult when you get a new club. You have to get to know new people and for me I was playing in a different league to what I knew. But I found after half-a-dozen games that I was settling in and now I am ready for a full season.
“Pre-season has been very tough, but that is how it should be and everyone has benefited from it. The lads have worked very hard through the summer and then in the last three weeks. I have a big role to play as I am one of the senior lads. Not just on the pitch but in and around the dressing room. I am there to help out if anyone has any problems and I can use my experience to help bring the young lads on.”
But despite there being many players at the start of their careers, Barker said many have gained valuable first-team experience last season.
And the Stags striker, who will captain the side for at least the first three games with Alex John-Baptiste suspended, said they have to build on that in the coming months.
“The majority of the squad is still quite young and they all get on well together,” said Barker. “Alex John-Baptiste was captain last season and that gave him a lot of confidence for this year. He is probably the most senior player amongst the younger lads and has been at the club the longest, along with Jake Buxton and Jason White. A lot is expected of them this season and they are ready to deliver.”
Although Barker is the senior player, Forest legend Des Walker has been training with Mansfield throughout pre-season and if he feels good after the friendlies will sign a contract.
And manager Palmer has trained and signed on as part of the 20-man squad, despite him and Walker being 39. but Barker believes it is good for the club.
He said: “The gaffer is training and will be part of the squad and Des Walker has been training with us. They are both 39 but I will not be able to run like that when I am their age. They are very fit and have a wealth of experience. There are a few Forest fans in the squad so having someone like Des around is a big plus and they can learn a lot from him, just in training.”
But whatever happens with Walker, Barker believes winning a place in League One is a real possibility.
He said: “Our aim is promotion and we need to start off well. I do not think we should be scared of anyone. There will be difficult games and sticky parts of the season but I am confident we can do it.”
Football Post Match Report:
Freak goal hits unlucky Stags:
MANSFIELD Town slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Derby County here this afternoon, but with 21 players used by manager Carlton Palmer, it will have proved to be a valuable exercise.
A bizarre goal separated the two sides. Rams striker Marcus Tudgay was adjudged to have got the last touch after a collision in the 34th minutes between himself, Mansfield's keeper Jason White and Stags defender Jake Buxton.
Mansfield had chances but rarely troubled Lee Camp in the Derby goal.
Palmer began his side's opening to the pre-season with seven new faces in the home side's line-up, including his own first appearance since he was officially made manager.
Gus Uhlenbeek, Adam Birchall and Stephen Dawson all joined Palmer in the Stags' midfield. Gavin Peers began at right back, while Jason Talbot made his first start since signing on a full-time basis from Bolton. Matt Tipton was also given a start up front alongside Richie Barker.
Rams manager Phil Brown also gave starts to several new players. Mark Edworthy, signed from Norwich City, started at right back while Andrew Davies, a loan signing from Middlesbrough, partnered Mo Konjic in the middle of the Rams' defence. Jaime Jordan, currently on trial at Pride Park, was given a start in the middle of the Rams midfield alongside his Spanish compatriot Inigo Idiakez.
Morten Bisgard was first to threaten for Derby down Mansfield's left, but his cross was easily dealt with by the young Jason White in the Stags' goal. Moments later Peers was penalised for handball on the edge of the Mansfield area, but Idiakez's free kick was weak and easily cleared.
Tipton went close to giving Mansfield the lead after 18 minutes. Palmer sprayed the ball wide to Uhlenbeek on the right wing and his low cross was met by Tipton at the near post, but he directed his header just wide.
Mansfield were proving they were capable of competing with the Rams.
Uhlenbeek's cross from the right caused problems for Derby in the 28th minute, with some of the home fans feeling there was a case for a penalty when Birchall went down under pressure from Davies, but the referee saw nothing wrong.
Six minutes later Derby were in front through a bizarre goal. Jordan lofted a seemingly innocuous high ball into the Mansfield area, but keeper White collided with Derby's Marcus Tudgay and his own defender Jake Buxton.
The ball then rolled into an empty net, and Tudgay claimed the goal.
Mansfield were almost back in it when Uhlenbeek's right-wing cross fell kindly for Birchall inside the Rams' box. Birchall turned to fire a shot from eight yards out, but his effort was well saved by Lee Camp.
The goal seemed to give Derby a bit more confidence and Tommy Smith was causing problems for Peers down the Rams' left side.
Shortly before the break, Davies was penalised for high feet, but Parker's (Barker's!) free kick was comfortably blocked.
Palmer took the opportunity to completely change his line-up for the start of the second period. The only player to remain on the pitch for Mansfield was goalkeeper White.
Striker Chris Beardsley, returning to the club following a spell at Kidderminster, took up a lone striker's role as Mansfield pressed for an equaliser. After a quiet opening to the second period, Beardsley showed neat skill in the 63rd minute when he volleyed a Peers left footed shot from 12 yards out, but Camp did well to get down and smother the ball.
Five minutes later, Scott Gemmill, the former Forest midfielder who replaced Idiakez at half-time for the Rams, then went close for the visitors.
Following a corner, the ball fell to Gemmill on the edge of the Mansfield box, and he fired in a low right-footed volley through a crowd of players, which gave White little time to react, but the youngster did well to get down and smother the ball.
Adam Rundle, brought on at the break on the left side of Mansfield's midfield, was proving to be a handful for Derby's Richard Jackson, who himself had been brought on in place of Jeff Kenna at right back in the 53rd minute.
First Rundle combined well with Callum Lloyd before sending over a dangerous low cross from the left wing which Jamie Vincent did well to clear.
Then in the 70th minute, Rundle went close with a speculative left-footed shot from the left side, which went close to clipping Camp's bar.
Charles (Giles!) Coke, another Stags sub, hit a weak left-footed volley in the 78th minute, but it failed to trouble Camp.
Latest | July 2005