35,000 TICKETS SOLD / TELEGRAPH PRESSMAN ARTICLE
NEWCASTLE United fans will again be out in force for Saturday's FA Cup Third Round clash with Mansfield Town.
The 'House Full' signs went up at St. James' Park for the opening fixture of 2006 - the Tyne-Tees derby with Middlesbrough - and another healthy attendance will be recorded at Gallowgate for the visit of League Two opposition.
Ticket sales are already hovering around the 35,000-mark, and the Stags will have huge backing on Tyneside, having sold their entire 5,500 allocation - more than 2,000 more than their average home league gate this term.
The FA Cup has always captured the imagination of the Geordie public. Last season, a Fourth Round game with Coventry attracted 44,044 to St. James', and the Toon Army will again turn out in numbers for lower league opposition.
An added attraction is that skipper Alan Shearer goes into the game just two goals short of breaking Jackie Milburn's all-time United record tally of 200. Will Saturday be the day our current number nine makes history?
Big Al is also closing in on another Milburn milestone. For he needs three more FA Cup goals to equal Wor Jackie's club record of 23 in the competition.
Stags resting ahead of their Geordie adventure
CHAD, 04 January 2006
MANSFIELD Town were this week resting up before heading north for their big FA Cup third round date at Newcastle United this Saturday (3pm) after four Festive games produced them five vital points.
Manager Peter Shirtliff knows their performances probably merited more than they ended up with.
But there is now a healthier-looking six point gap between Stags and the drop zone. They are now 19th and only seven points off the play-off zone.
"I am reasonably pleased with the five points," said manager Peter Shirtliff.
"It could have been more. But we have been unlucky at times and some of those players are running on empty right now as it has been a busy period.
"Training is optional today (Wednesday) but I want them to be right for tomorrow (Thursday) when we start to prepare for the Newcastle game.
"I only had 17 fit players available today and, even though I hope we will have Simon Brown available again for Saturday, we certainly do need a couple of fresh faces to get some zest about the place and I will be looking at that this week.
"But I have been pleased with the players' effort, professionalism and commitment. They've given all I could ask for.
"Newcastle will be a great experience for them. It will be nice to be a manager going to Newcastle – I can't remember the last time I played there.
"It always has a great atmosphere and it will be a fantastic day out for us.
"It is nice to have a cup game after such a hectic League programme. We can just enjoy the occasion, regroup afterwards and just kick on."
Chad has no up to date team news from yesterday or contact with players due to the current information ban on the newspaper by Stags chairman Keith Haslam.
On-loan Macclesfield striker Allan Russell has now signed for Stags until the end of the season.
But defender Gavin Peers has left the club by mutual consent.
"Gavin asked if we could terminate his contract," said Shirtliff. "He was unhappy and wanted to go back to Ireland. So we have done that and we wish him well.
"We do have a few options at right back so his departure will give us the chance to bring in someone up front or in midfield. We want players who offer us something different to what we already have."
One possibility is former Spurs and Notts County star Darren Caskey. The mercurial midfielder has trained with Stags this week and Shirtlif admitted; "Darren has looked sharp and creative."
Saturday's opponents Newcastle are desperate for some success after a disappointing season so far and so are unlikely to play too weak a side on Saturday.
But England ace Michael Owen will definitely be out after his highly-publicised foot fracture last weekend.
Other star names sidelined include Scott Parker, Emre and Kieron Dyer.
And the crowd were calling for manager Graeme Souness to go just before their late equaliser against Middlesbrough on Monday.
Chad understood late last week that there were still expected to be some tickets on general sale this week for the Cup game but were were not permitted to contact the club yesterday to find out.
Pressman aims to deliver one more knockout blow
By Andrew Collomosse
On the face of it, Newcastle United will have little to fear when Mansfield Town ride into Toon on Saturday.
A glance at the league tables reveals that Mansfield are a daunting 76 places below their opponents in the football hierarchy. After a difficult start to the season, which cost manager Carlton Palmer his job in September, they remain uncomfortably close to relegation from League Two.
However, a close scrutiny of the likely Mansfield line-up and the identity of their goalkeeper might just arouse a shiver of apprehension among the black and white stripes.
The goalkeeper's name? Kevin Pressman. His pedigree? Close to 500 senior appearances for Sheffield Wednesday. His significance? Ask Paul Kitson.
The striker happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time during his second game for Newcastle after arriving from Derby. Pressman charged out of his penalty box to repel a Newcastle raid, and Kitson found himself playing matador to Pressman's bull and on this occasion, the coup de grace was delivered by the onrushing goalkeeper.
Pressman's powered clearance struck Kitson on the head immediately after leaving the launch pad, knocking the striker out cold. He was withdrawn from the fray shortly afterwards, suffering from concussion.
So if, with Michael Owen already ruled out of the tie by a broken foot, Pressman should happen to account for Alan Shearer with an equally well-aimed salvo, the underdogs may just be in with a shout after all.
"Kitson was trying to close me down and I just raced out of the box and let fly," recalls Pressman, who ended a 17-year stay at Wednesday in 2004 and joined Mansfield in July after spells with Leicester, Leeds and Coventry.
"When I decide to come for a ball, I really come for it. And anyone who gets in the way is likely to be in trouble." And that includes Shearer.
However, Pressman insists that what he sees as Mansfield's realistic hopes of a giant-killing do not rely on the principle of brawn beating brains.
"Look, I know this has been said before but it's just a one-off game of football and either side can win. That's what the FA Cup is all about, isn't it?" says the former England Under-21 international who doubles up as goalkeeping coach at Field Mill.
"We got off to a bad start this season and we've been playing catch-up ever since.
"But we're gradually turning it round and we're not a million miles away from mid-table now. And the Newcastle game has given the place a real buzz. Of course it's crucial that we stay in the league and that is the main priority. But a game like this gives everyone at the club a lift.
"We have a few young lads in the side and it hasn't been easy to keep their feet on the floor since the draw was made. But the Christmas games are out of the way now and this is going to be a wonderful experience for them."
And for their senior professional, too? "Definitely! I'm 37 and, long-term, I want to move on to the coaching side full-time. So while I intend to keep playing for as long as possible, I realise there might not be too many more days like this."
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