PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS
JACOBS GLAD TO BE BACK
Evening Post, 14 February 2006
Kyle Jacobs wants to put his injury nightmare behind him - by helping Mansfield to League Two safety.
The 19-year-old right-back was out for several months earlier in the season after undergoing keyhole surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his left knee.
Since his return to fitness, he has sat on the sidelines as boss Peter Shirtliff has chosen other players ahead of him.
But a build-up of injuries in the Mansfield squad gave Jacobs his chance as he was drafted into the starting line-up for the game at Darlington. He has since started the games against Macclesfield and Wycombe and is determined to cement his place for the rest of the season.
"It was very hard and frustrating not getting a chance," said Jacobs. ''First I was injured and then I was trying my best in training and still nothing was happening. You start to wonder if you are ever going to get in the team, but then we had a few injuries and I got the nod.
"I've enjoyed playing. I have taken my chance and done all right and hopefully I can stay in the team now."
Having sat in the stands for almost the entire campaign, Jacobs is well placed to assess where things have gone wrong for Mansfield. He feels the major factors have been the mid-season change of manager - Shirtliff replacing Carlton Palmer - and injuries.
"Watching the team, you know they are a good side but they've not been doing as well as they should have. I think the upheaval in changing managers has made it hard for the team.
"We have also had quite a few injuries and that has not helped. You are trying to work up a head of steam and all these things that are happening make it difficult to do that.
"I don't think the team should be struggling like we are. We are a good passing side and we have the potential to play at a higher level."
Stags are sweating on the fitness of Alex John-Baptiste (groin) and Simon Brown (stomach) ahead of Grimsby's visit.
Central defender John-Baptiste missed the 2-2 draw at Wycombe on Saturday and faces a fitness test before he can take his place in the squad.
Shirtliff was hoping to speak to Brown before making a decision on the striker, but he is rated doubtful.
Grimsby come to Field Mill top of the table, full of confidence and with the best away record in the division.
They have won more games (nine) and let in the fewest number of goals (14) than any other side on their travels.
It is exactly a month since Mansfield travelled to Cleethorpes to take on the Mariners at Blundell Park.
Then, the home side were 2-1 victors in League Two thanks to a late strike from Andy Parkinson after Richie Barker's penalty had cancelled out an early Michael Reddy goal.
But Shirtliff is hoping things will turn out better for the Stags on this occasion.
"I thought we played quite well at Grimsby and didn't deserve to lose," he said.
"It will be a different game this time with it being at our ground, but we have to start turning performances into results."
With the two teams in the relegation places - Stockport and Rushden - both picking up wins on Saturday, the gap between Mansfield and those sides is now just four points.
But Shirtliff insists there will be no more pressure than normal on his side tonight.
He said: "I'm not going to put any undue pressure on the team, we are just going to approach the game in the usual manner.
"It is going to be tough because they are up there at the top of the league. I know it sounds boring, but we just have to take each game as it comes to try to pick up as many points from each game as we can.
"I haven't got any points total in mind that we need to get (for league safety) because it really depends on what the other teams around us do."
Grimsby were 1-0 winners over Lincolnshire rivals Boston on Saturday as Reddy scored for the fourth consecutive game.
He picked up a slight hamstring injury but is still in with a shout of playing, as are Rob Jones (groin), Gary Jones (toe) and Curtis Woodhouse (knee).
Ben Futcher is set to return.
Ex-Notts County midfielder Paul Bolland is also available after serving a one-match suspension.
MENDES FACES HIS OLD CLUB
Evening Post, 14 February 2006
Junior Mendes is hoping to shoot down former club Mansfield when he visits with his new side Grimsby Town tonight.
The striker, who signed for the Mariners from Huddersfield in January, was part of the Stags team to reach the play-off final in 2003-2004.
He scored 13 goals during that campaign, including a vital goal in the 2-0 win in the away leg of the play-off semi-final at Northampton.
But after the Stags lost in the final at the Millennium Stadium on penalties to Huddersfield, he joined the Terriers two months later.
Mendes, 29, has now moved on to Blundell Park and hopes he can help the Mariners pick up the points at Field Mill to aid their promotion push.
"Getting the win at Notts County got the promotion hunt really started for me, and now we want to follow that up with another away win at Mansfield," he said.
"I can use my experiences in the play-offs with Mansfield and playing in League One to good effect as we look for promotion this season.
Former Chelsea trainee Mendes admits he had some good times at Field Mill, even though he was not always a favourite with the fans. He said: "It will be nice to go back to Mansfield although nobody is left from when I was there.
"There won't be many handshakes before the game but it will be good to go there and get a result.
"I haven't been at Grimsby long enough to gauge the true size of the club on a par with Mansfield; maybe Grimsby are a little bit of a bigger club.
"But when I was at Mansfield, I enjoyed it. It wasn't a small club by any means.
"They had some good players when I was there. But that's in the past now and winning for Grimsby is the main aim."
WE AIM TO STAY AT TOP
Evening Post, 14 February 2006
Grimsby boss Russell Slade is hoping his side continue their impressive away form and maintain top spot against Mansfield.
Slade said: "We know Mansfield are a half-decent side - they were unlucky to lose to us at Blundell Park last month.
"They are certainly better than their league position suggest and their fantastic result at Wycombe is testimony to that. We will have to be strong and ready for a tough match but we know we have the ability to get something out of the game.
"Our away form has been really good this year and hopefully that will continue at Field Mill.
"It's great to go to the top of the league and we want to stay there. We have ground out some good results in the last few games and hopefully we can build on those wins."
One player Slade is likely to be wary of is Stags top scorer Richie Barker - who netted his 16th goal of the season against Wycombe.
He said: "Richie Barker is quality in my book.
"He is a strong centre-forward and will always get goals. The last two times we have played Mansfield, he has been the main threat and I expect he will be again.''
Late fitness test for John-Baptiste
CHAD website, 13 February 2006
ALEX John-Baptiste faces a late fitness test before Stags boss Peter Shirtliff names his side to face League Two leaders Grimsby Town at Field Mill tomorrow night (7.45pm).
The central defender missed Saturday's 2-2 draw at Wycombe with a groin strain but is hopeful he will be fit enough for a return against the Mariners.
However, striker Simon Brown's stomach strain has not improved and he remains highly doubtful.
After stuttering with four games without a win, Grimsby have now won two on the trot and beat Stags 2-1 at home on 14th January.
"Grimsby were a tough side at home and they will be a tough side up here as well," said Shirtliff.
"There is a reason why they are up there in the table. They play a certain way, are consistent, and they give nothing away.
"We will need to defend set pieces well and be on our toes. We will have to do things that aren't pleasant and get stuck in. If we have 11 men that are committed we can match anyone in this league.
"I thought we had earned a point at Grimsby until they scored their winner which was down to poor defending from front to back.
"We have now conceded 50 goals and it's why we are where we are. We have to be more resilient when the opposition are having their spell on top.
"If we can beat Grimsby after getting a point away at Wycombe it would be two great results against sides in the top three."
Mansfield v Grimsby
Mansfield are sweating over the fitness of Danny Reet and Alex Baptiste ahead of the visit of high-flyers Grimsby.
Striker Reet has been struggling with illness, while Alex Baptiste faces a late test on a stomach injury.
League Two leaders Grimsby are boosted by the return of Ben Futcher and Paul Bolland for the trip to Field Mill.
Futcher returns after sitting out last week's win over former side Boston, while Bolland is back after a ban. Justin Whittle (back) is still out.
BBC Nottingham online:
Updated 11.35am, 14.02.06
Mansfield Town take on the League Two leaders Grimsby tonight at Field Mill. The Stags go into the game just four points above the relegation places after their weekend draw at Wycombe. Manager Peter Shirtliff could have defender Alex John-Baptiste back from a groin injury, but striker Simon Brown is likely to be out again with a stomach problem. Of the 16 players named in Shirtliff's squad at Wycombe on Saturday, only four were over the age of 21, and the Stags boss is aware that that his side's inexperience could be costing the team points.
Listen to pre-match interview with Peter Shirtliff:
Latest | February 2006