PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS
IN-FORM PRESSMAN LAUGHS OFF TAUNTS
EVENING POST, 30 December 2005
Alex John-Baptiste reckons veteran goalkeeper Kevin Pressman loves to silence his critics.
After 20 years in the game Pressman is no stranger to getting stick from opposing fans - particularly about his weight.
But the former Sheffield Wednesday man loves to answer his critics on the pitch and has done that with some outstanding recent performances.
The 38-year-old earned Mansfield a goalless draw against Peterborough before Christmas and was in outstanding form again on Boxing Day when he frustrated Northampton time and again before finally being beaten by a stunning James Hunt free-kick.
Pressman will expect plenty more cat calling when Stags travel to Oxford United tomorrow, but John-Baptiste insists it is water off a duck's back.
"He's a good laugh and a great goalkeeper," said the defender, who's taken over the captain's armband for the last two games in the absence of the injured Richie Barker.
"You can see by the reaction saves he makes that he's played at the highest level and he's still got it.
"It makes me laugh because you see how the crowd reacts to him whenever we are away.
They are always giving him hassle.
"But then he pulls out some great saves and he's all smiles.
"He's a great keeper and I don't think it bothers him at all. He's played at the highest level so he's got that confidence and he knows what he's doing."
Baptiste, 19, is one of a number of youthful players in Peter Shirtliff's squad.
And he admits the experience Pressman brings to the dressing room and on the pitch is invaluable.
"For the past few games he's been our best player," said Baptiste.
"It's great for me as a defender because you know that nine times out of ten he's going to pull off a save.
"As a young player I learn a lot from him.
"He's really good to play in the same side as because he's always talking throughout the match and he'll scream at us if we're defending too deep.
"To know that you've got someone behind you who's played at such a high level automatically gives you confidence.
"He's played in the Premiership and the UEFA Cup so his experience can be a great help."
Pressman isn't the only team-mate to have impressed Baptiste, who is also full of praise for on-loan striker Allan Russell.
The Macclesfield forward has had to cover for the absent Barker and Simon Brown over the festive period and opened his Mansfield account in Wednesday's 3-3 draw with Bristol Rovers.
Now Baptiste reckons it will be hard for Shirtliff to leave him out.
"When you've got a small squad, playing so many games in a week makes it harder when you get injuries or suspensions," he said.
"But it gives someone else the chance to come in and show what they can do and that's what Allan has done.
"Without Richie and Simon it has been difficult for us because you are always going to miss two goalscorers.
"But I think Allan has done really well in their place. It has been a difficult situation for him, but I think it will be hard for someone to displace him the way he's been playing."
CHAD website, 30 December 2005:
Brown back in contention
SIMON Brown could be back in the Mansfield Town starting line-up for the tough trip to Oxford United tomorrow (3pm).
Brown and strike partner Richie Barker – with 24 goals between them – have been out injured for several games.
But Brown's hamstring is much improved and manager Peter Shirtliff said: "Simon's hamstring is a lot better and he could be in contention properly for the Oxford game.
"He has done a lot of running on it and it has been fine. We put him on the bench midweek and I was going to bring him on.
"But sitting on the bench in the cold, he felt it had stiffened up a bit when he started warming up and we decided not to risk him."
However, the club are still waiting for news of Barker's nerve problem and will be consulting a specialist.
Shirtliff gave his side a day off yesterday to recuperate from the 3-3 home draw with Bristol Rovers and said: "They needed the rest but, with the weather, it was probably a good thing as it is hard to find anywhere to train. We have the same problem today."
Oxford is not a happy hunting ground for Stags. But until their 3-0 home win over Notts County last weekend, United had lost their three previous home outings.
Oxford Utd v Mansfield
Oxford club captain Chris Hargreaves is available after serving his one-match ban but could have to settle for a place on the bench.
Leo Roget and Mark E'Beyer are hoping to overcome bouts of illness in time to face the Stags.
Mansfield will be without suspended full-back Gareth Jelleyman while Richie Barker is still struggling with a back injury which will keep him sidelined.
Stags boss Peter Shirtliff can recall Simon Brown from a hamstring niggle.
Full-back Gareth Jelleyman will be missing from the Mansfield side which takes on Oxford at the Kassam Stadium.
Jelleyman must sit out the game as he serves a one-game suspension, while striker Richie Barker's back injury is likely to keep him sidelined too.
Fellow forward Simon Brown is back from a hamstring niggle.
30th December 2005
Staggering to a close
Tomorrow's visitors to the KasStad are Mansfield Town, as United hope to end a disappointing year on a high note. With their midweek game at Peterborough having been postponed, Oxford should be fresher than the Stags, who were held to a 3-3 draw by Bristol Rovers at Field Mill on Wednesday. As a result of that postponement, United will be hoping to use this game as their opportunity to capitalise on their 3-0 Boxing Day win over Notts County, and bring themselves back into the fringes of the race for the play-offs.
The extra few days of rest means that Brian Talbot can add Leo Roget to the roster of fit players, as the defender has recovered from his illness. With captain Chris Hargreaves also available for selection following his one-match ban, Talbot has pretty much his strongest squad available for the final match before the January transfer window opens. The first piece of activity will probably be the return of the disappointing Andy Campbell to Cardiff, so it's highly unlikely that he will threaten the partnership that Eric Sabin and Steve Basham appear to have created. Fellow loanees Scott Fitzgerald and Neville Roach will also not be selected, but unlike Campbel they may at least make it to the bench. Craig Davies is probably the only senior player to be missing from the squad, fuelling speculation that he will be on his way next month. Talbot will have a hard time justifying replacing any of the side that featured in the second half against County, so we expect to see Chris Tardif retain his place in goal instead of Billy Turley, while Jon Ashton and Chris Willmott should get the nod over Roget. Hargreaves may also have to wait, as Barry Quinn and Lee Mansell bossed the midfield on Monday, and with Chris Hackett and Lee Bradbury looking threatening on the wings, Adam Griffin is again unlikely to get a look-in.
Mansfield have struggled this season, and remain just outside the relegation zone. Gareth Jelleyman is suspended, and star striker Richie Barker is likely to miss out through injury. We don't like to tempt fate (much), but after correctly predicting a win for United over Notts County, we're tempted to do the same for this fixture. Working on the assumption that it was our prediction that tipped the scales in United's favour, we're again going for the win tomorrow, predicting a United win by, ooh, say 3-2. Okay?
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