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Archived News from March 2006

8th March 2006 16:10

Evening Post, 08 March 2006

Richie Barker is delighted to have proved his pre-season doubters wrong by scoring 20 goals in a season for the first time in his career.

An article in a supporters' fanzine at the start of the season questioned the ability of the Stags' captain to reach the magic figure.

But Barker reached the landmark with ten games still to go on Saturday - by heading Mansfield's second goal in the 2-2 derby draw with Notts County.

"I can remember reading before the start of the season that Richie Barker couldn't score 20 goals in a season, so it's great to do it," said the 30-year-old.

"It annoyed me a little bit because I wanted to say 'yes, I can'. But now I have done it, so that gives me satisfaction.

"It is nice to get 20 goals for the first time ever, but there are still a few more that I need to get.

"I haven't set myself a target for the rest of the season, but I just want to keep going right to the end.

"I don't want to have a drought in the last few games and have the season just fizzle out, especially as we are not definitely safe yet."

More good news came for Barker on Monday when he was named League Two's player of the month for February.

That was after he helped the Stags to five games unbeaten during the month with four goals.

The other players in the running were Grimsby goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall and Carlisle midfielder Chris Lumsdon.

Barker said: "I didn't even realise that I was up for the award, but it's always pleasing to get this kind of thing.

"The good thing is that it has come in a month when we have been unbeaten. It wouldn't have meant as much to me if it had been when we had lost three or four games."

"If we can keep the run going and get it into double figures then hopefully we can end the season on a high.

"Since Shirty (Peter Shirtliff) took over we have been going in the right direction and hopefully we can keep that going."

Barker looks to have carried his fine February form into March, and his goal against the Magpies was his third in as many derby games.

The striker said: "I thought I had got the winner at one stage, but a draw was about a fair result to be honest.

"We could have got the winner at the end when Cokey had a great chance. He did everything right but he just lost his balance and couldn't quite squeeze it inside the post.

"Derby games are always special, so I was happy to keep my scoring run going in these matches."

"We played Notts at our place when they were top of the table and lost, yet now there are only two points between us. It shows how far we have come."
Stags Skipper Stunned At Accolade

The first Mansfield Town striker Richie Barker knew about his League Two Player Of The Month award was a phone call from his brother on Sunday night.

He was shocked to hear from sibling Chris, who is a defender at Cardiff City, that he'd picked up the accolade for February.

The Stags captain did not even know that he had been nominated.

Barker was chosen by a panel of judges ahead of Carlisle midfielder Chris Lumsden and Grimsby goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall.

It follows a month where he netted four goals in five games to help keep the Stags unbeaten throughout February.

Barker will receive his award before training on Tuesday morning, but he says he owes all his success to his teammates who provided him with the chances to score.
Pole Begins Stags Trial + Injury News
Mansfield Town have today been having a look at a Polish striker who turned up on their doorstep pleading for a trial last week.

30-year-old Arek Zarczynski arrived at Field Mill with a DVD of him in action.

And after a training session today, Stags boss Peter Shirtliff says he was pleased with what he saw and will involve the attacker in a practice match tomorrow.

Also taking part in that game will be defender Rhys Day who is close to full fitness following surgery on a groin problem.

Midfielder Adam Birchall is almost ready for action in Saturday's home game with Boston United.

The Welsh Under-21 international's ankle injury has cleared up but he missed the weekend trip to Notts County because of blisters caused by a new pair of boots.
Shirtliff looks back at Derby Game
Having watched the video back Peter Shirtliff feels that the Stags were unlucky to come away with a draw and felt being a goal down at half time wasn't a true representation of the play in the first forty five minutes of the game.

"I have watched the tape over. The county goal was a good strike and a good finish but I felt a bit unlucky to go into the break a goal down.

"Danny Reet had a good shot in the first half that was well saved and there was a few other chances that could have made a difference to the first half. I think we rushed some of our shots instead of picking another, sometimes easier pass but when we brought it back to two one and had them on their back foot it was a little disappointing that we didn't get all three points especially Giles near the end of the game.

" We will now concentrate on the next two games one at a time here at Field Mill. I am hoping that Rhys can have an hour in the behind closed doors game which should further his come back."

Meanwhile Chris Beardsley has been back to the surgeon that inserted the pin to his leg in what is hopefully the final stages of his rehab and Shirtliff is hopeful that Beardsley will be 'all systems go' for preseason training.

"I don't think Chris will play any part for the remainder of this season but hopefully the news from the surgeon he is visiting will be promising and he can return to training in readiness for the pre-season schedule."

Finally Shirtliff was keen to praise the 3700 plus fans that turned out at Meadow Lane at the weekend:

"I thought the Mansfield fans were great on Saturday it was a terrific turn out at Notts County, it made for a fantastic atmosphere. We are a little bit disappointed that we couldn't get the three points for them but I am sure that they are pleased with the performances of the lads and the effort they put in. So I would like to thank them very much on behalf of myself and the players and hopefully they will come to Field Mill and we can really press on to the end of the season."
Barker Beats of competition
Richie Barker beat of rivals form League two to become Coca Cola player of the month for February. He will be picking up his award at Field Mill tomorrow morning before training.

"I am very pleased for Richie, he has worked hard and is the consummate professional and a very good captain and I am pleased for him.

"He has done really well, scoring goals and as I have said all along if he gets the service he can score goals and is always a presence with good finishing in the box." Said Stag's Boss Shirtliff.

"Richie has high standards and I have standards. He reacts to that and I think that is staring to rub off on the other players now. Of course he found himself the target of training banter this morning but in the morning the lads will be giving him a roaring round of applause" he added.

More recognition for Barker
The new edition of FourFourTwo magazine - which is out now - has named Richard Barker as Mansfield Town's best player so far this season.

The magazine covers all 72 Football League clubs and incorporates an in-depth feature on the Top 50 Football League players.

It was announced at The Football League Awards on Sunday 5 March 2006 that Sheffield United midfielder, Phil Jagielka, is the number one player in The Football League. Jagielka overcame the challenge from Steve Sidwell of Reading and Andy Johnson of Crystal Palace to claim the number one spot and Championship Player of the Year mantle.

A Mansfield Town player does not feature in this year's Top 50, but as Hugh Sleight, Editor of FourFourTwo explains, a host of quality players missed out on the Top 50.

"There are around 1000 Football League players either performing or on the bench over the course of a weekend. So we have gone beyond the 50 and named the players who we believe have played a key role for their club so far this season. For Mansfield Town, Richard Barker has been selected."

"When we published our Top 50 League Players for the first time last season, the response was overwhelming - from readers, players and the entire football community. Compiling this year's list has been a mammoth operation, and now we can't wait to hear the reaction of our readers."

The Top 50 Football League players was compiled following votes by players and managers from all three divisions, plus individuals such as: Hugh Sleight (Editor of FourFourTwo), Gordon Taylor (Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers Association), John Barnwell (Chief Executive of the League Managers Association), Chris Kamara (Sky Sports and Coca-Cola Football League Ambassador), and Tony Hudd (The Football Writers' Association).

The April edition of FourFourTwo magazine is on-sale now.
Zarcznski joins training
Polish Striker Arek Zarcznski joined the Stags for training this morning after arriving at the club cold calling for a position last week.

"Arek joined us for training this morning and looked alright. He seems a nice lad and looks like he is a hard working lad. He has a nice touch on the ball so I think we will be having another look at him.

"I have arrange a behind closed doors game for tomorrow which he play some part in. what I have seen so far looks okay so I will keep an eye on him for a few days and see how things pan out." Shirtliff told the official Website.


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