MORE REPORTS AND REACTION
HJELDE: 'WE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES'
Evening Post, 13 February 2006
Jon-olav Hjelde feels it is vital the Stags take four points from their next two matches to avoid getting sucked into the relegation places.
The defender scored Mansfield's opener in their 2-2 draw at Wycombe - his first goal for Mansfield - but they are four points clear of the drop zone.
So, with the Stags having two home matches in quick succession against Grimsby and Wrexham, Hjelde knows this is the time for the side to find their feet at Field Mill.
He said: "Our home games are always crucial because if we can get our home form right, then we are going to be OK. Grimsby and Wrexham are both doing well and it is going to be tough, but I think we need to get four points from those games.
"It's coming to the point now, with 14 games to go, where good performances count for nothing. It is no good playing well and still going down. It's more important at this stage to keep picking up the points and to do that we have to start grinding out some results."
Hjelde feels Mansfield's poor start in the league campaign is now making it hard for them. But he believes the Stags have what it takes to preserve their Football League status.
"I think with the players we have here we should be a side up in the top ten rather than a side struggling at the bottom," he said. "But our bad start to the season really did not help when we only had seven points from our first 11 games.
"We seem to get good results and then not beat teams who we should be beating. But there is no reason why we shouldn't go on a good run and I think we have enough about us to stay up."
Evening Post, 13 February 2006
Peter Shirtliff said Stags had failed in basic defending - and that had cost them two points at Wycombe.
Mansfield were 2-0 up at the break, but the Chairboys hit back to claim a draw.
Leading up to the match, the Stags boss had called for tighter defending.
But he was frustrated as Mansfield conceded two goals he felt they should have kept out.
"I'm disappointed with what was poor defending, particularly down our right-hand side. Once we settled and got the first goal we started to play with confidence and were even more buoyant at 2-0 up.
"Half-time came at the wrong time for us because we were on top at that point.
"I told the players to expect Wycombe to come out attacking, which they did, and we didn't really deal with it."
He added: "If someone said before the game you can have a point then I would have probably taken it, but if we'd done the basics right then we could have won. I don't know why, but the goals we concede as a football club are nowhere near good enough."
CHAIRBOYS TURN THE TABLES ON STAGS
Evening Post, 13 February 2006
On another day, getting a point from their trip to the Causeway Stadium would have been an excellent result for the Stags.
With Wanderers chasing promotion from League Two and Mansfield struggling near the bottom, the odds were always going to be stacked against the visitors.
So you would think claiming a draw would have brought delight to the dressing room. But not on Saturday. Manager Peter Shirtliff"s sense of disappointment was shared by all his players.
They know that, after going 2-0 up at half-time, they had a golden chance of their first victory at Wycombe.
After surviving an early scare - when Wanderers had a goal ruled out for offside - the Stags got on top before half-time.
And that dominance brought goals for Jon-Olav Hjelde (his first of the season) and Richie Barker (his 16th).
First, Adam Rundle whipped in a 27th-minute near-post corner that Hjelde glanced in, despite a failed attempt by a home defender to clear off the line.
Six minutes later, a strong run from Giles Coke earned Mansfield a free-kick on the edge of the box that Barker fired into the bottom right-hand corner with the aid of a deflection.
But the Stags could not bag a third goal while they had the run of play - although Rundle came close when his shot from distance was pushed away by Frank Talia at full stretch. And that was to prove crucial.
No doubt, with a half-time lecture from assistant boss Steve Brown ringing in their ears, Wycombe were stung into action and the second period was a different story.
The home side showed just why they are fighting with Carlisle and Grimsby at the top of the pile for title honours as they hit back with everything in their armoury.
Stags were forced on the defensive... and had they managed to hold out for longer before conceding a first goal, they might have been in with a shout of winning.
However, the goal just nine minutes after the break from the head of Tommy Mooney lifted the Chairboys and their home support - and a leveller was always looking likely.
With 12 minutes to go - exactly the same minute as Macclesfield equalised last week - substitute and ex-Notts County midfielder Stefan Oakes had time to drill past Kevin Pressman from the left-hand side of the box.
With the momentum now with Wycombe, it took two fine saves from Pressman to prevent things getting even worse for the Stags.
He got across brilliantly to push away Mooney's free-kick that seemed destined for the net and did equally well to keep out an angled drive from substitute Ian Stonebridge.
The result left Mansfield's players with a feeling of what might have been, but it has to be said that Wanderers deserved a point for their showing in a second half that they bossed from start to finish.
There were some good individual performances again from Mansfield, with Jake Buxton and Barker outstanding at opposite ends of the pitch.
But when the Stags were up against it in the second half, too many players went missing.
To win at places like Wycombe, all of the team has to perform to their full potential. That happened in the first half. However, when the hosts turned the screw, the Stags were found wanting - and that led to the feelings of frustration at the end.
Stags' angst at not taking all three points was increased with other results from around the country.
With Stockport winning 2-1 at Chester and Rushden beating Notts 1-0 at home, the gap between Mansfield and the relegation zone is down to just four points.
Had the Stags been able to nick the three points, or those other sides drawn or lost, then things would have looked a lot healthier.
There is now pressure on Mansfield to win two home games in quick succession - tomorrow night against Grimsby and on Saturday against Wrexham.
The Stags must have a positive outlook, though, because they have played extremely well in patches in both of their last two games. The trick is to now produce the goods for the whole 90 minutes and, if they can do that, then they have every reason to believe their fortunes will change for the better.
Wycombe Wanderers 2
Mansfield Town 2
Saturday 11th February 2006
Football League 'League Two'
Wanderers came from 2-0 down to register their 16th 'League Two' draw of the season following a 2-2 scoreline against Mansfield Town at Adams Park. Results elsewhere saw Wanderers drop to third place in the table with Grimsby Town now holding top spot.
Team news for Wycombe saw Frank Talia return between the sticks following Matt Duke's midweek recall by Hull City. Danny Senda also stepped back in at right back after missing the previous week's game at Wrexham due to an ankle injury. Elsewhere, Jermaine Easter and Dean Bowditch got their first home starts for Wycombe with Easter playing alongside Toomy Mooney in a Wanderers front two. Bowditch was prefered in midfield to Stefan Oakes, who dropped to the bench. The team had been picked by John Gorman but the Wanderers boss was not at the game due to illness of his wife and he left coaches Steve Brown and Keith Ryan to take charge of matchday matters.
The duo would not have been happy with Wanderers first half showing where they conceded twice from set-pieces. The visitors took the lead in the 27th minute when a corner from the right saw a near post header from Jon-Olav Hjelde loop in off the far post. Six minutes later The Stags doubled their lead after Mike Williamson conceded a free kick just outside the penalty area and Richard Barker struck the resulting dead ball through the Wycombe wall and inside the right hand upright.
But it could have been different if early chances had counted. Easter went close on 15 minutes and Bowditch also saw a tap in at the far post ruled out for offside on 18 minutes. There was also another injury blow to Wycombe and Joe Burnell on 23 minutes when the midfielder was forced off with a calf injury and was replaced by Oakes.
Wanderers response came after the break and following the introduction of Sergio Torres for Bowditch. Within a minute of the substitution Wycombe had pulled a vital goal back when Tommy Mooney headed home a Kevin Betsy cross from the right. Easter was unlucky in the 63rd minute when his snap shot from the edge of the six yard box hit the crossbar but the equaliser came on 77 minutes when another Betsy ball from the right found its way to Oakes who sent in a left footed effort from the left corner of the six yard box that was helped past Kevin Pressman by a Mansfield defender before the ball could creep inside the far post. Former Sheffield Wednesday shot stopper Pressman then pulled off full length diving saves from Mooney and substitute Ian Stonebridge to prevent Wanderers snatching all three points. A stoppage time booking for Clint Easton, his fifth of the season, means he will miss the game at Boston United on Saturday 18th February.
Final Score - Wycombe 2 Mansfield 2
Speaking to the media after the game Steve Brown said he was pleased with the commitment from his side during the second half but dissapointed that Wycombe hadn't gone on to win the game. He said "I wasn't happy with the performance. It's not what the gaffer has preached during the time he has been here. We didn't play to the principles that he had laid down and if you don't do that you find yourself behind in the game. In the first half we lacked all the things we had done to get us to the top of the table. But we had a good chat at half-time and in the end I was disappointed we didn't win it. I thought Kevin Pressman was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the second half."
Brown also rubbished the peception that Wycombe were having a dip in form, saying to BBC Three Counties Radio "There's no one around this Football Club I've heard ever use the word blip or loss of form. It's just the media who think we are having a blip or bad form at the moment. We've only lost one game in six and people think we are having a bad time. Yes, we are not winning football matches but we are still doing well and playing good football. At Northampton we should have won, at Barnet we should have won, Stockport out here we should have won and people think we are in bad form. If they think that, then that is up to them but we are happy and we will just still keep striving like we have done from the start of the season." Wycombe: Talia, Senda, Easton, Johnson, Williamson, Betsy, Burnell (sub 23 Oakes), Easter (sub 73 Stonebridge), Bloomfield, Bowditch (sub 53 Torres), Mooney - subs not used: Williams, Martin
Bookings: Burnell (7 foul), Easter (17 dissent), Williamson (33 foul) Easton (90+ foul)
Scorers: Mooney (54), Oakes (77)
Mansfield: Pressman, Jelleyman, Jacobs, Hjelde, Uhlenbeek (sub 79 Dawson), Buxton, D'Laryea, Coke, Rundle (sub 63 Wilson), Barker, Reet (sub HT Birchall) - subs not used White, Lloyd
Bookings: Reet (24 time wasting), Birchall (55 unsporting behaviour), Jelleyman (65 unsporting behaviour/diving), Dawson (89 foul)
Scorers: Hjelde (27), Barker (33)
Referee: Mr P Mellin Attendance: 5,041 (184 away end)
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