FOREST GAME - EVENING POST REPORT AND REACTION
SHIRTLIFF IMPRESSED BY POSITIVE FOREST
Evening Post, 24 July 2006
Stags boss Peter Shirtliff was happy with the way his side fought against Forest - but is still backing the Reds to challenge for promotion from League One.
Captain Richie Barker scored the only goal of the game for Mansfield in the final minute of the first half.
It proved to be the winner as the referee called the players off early for safety reasons after a storm produced heavy rain, thunder and lightning.
Shirtliff was pleased with what he saw from his players, but was also impressed by the performance of the visitors too.
"I thought it was a decent game that was pretty much spoilt by the rain and the lightning at the end," he said.
"Forest are a bit more direct than Derby were the other night, but they still played some good football.
"They are quite a big and imposing side and they also have a really big squad for a club in the division they are in.
"I thought we coped quite well with them but I still envisage, with the players that they have, that they will do very well this season."
The decision to abandon the game after 73 minutes was met by a chorus of boos from both sets of fans as they headed for the exit gates.
Shirtliff, too, was frustrated, but felt the referee had no option.
He said: "I think the referee made the right decision within the timescale that was available to him.
"He said he would give it five to ten minutes and if it was not different then he would abandon it, so under those circumstances he didn't have any choice.
"I am a little it disappointed that some of the lads who came on didn't get as long out there as I would have liked.
"But there wasn't anything we could do about that with the weather being as it was. The players looked good, strong and fit."
Meanwhile, Shirtliff will make Michael Boulding his fourth summer signing within the next few days.
The 30-year-old player has agreed to rejoin the club he played for between 1999 and 2001.
The former Grimsby, Aston Villa and Barnsley player is now poised to sign a one-year contract at Field Mill.
"The deal is more or less done. It's been agreed and I'm chuffed to bits to have Michael on board because I think he is a great addition to the squad," said Shirtliff.
"He had a chat with the chairman and I about things and we told him the situation and he said he would be happy to sign for a year.
"There are still a few details to finalise, but it's nothing major and it should be sorted soon. He is versatile and gives me options."
The Stags currently have Michael's brother, Rory Boulding, on trial. The 17-year-old prospect is a striker.
He will be joined this week by three other trialists as Shirtliff is still undecided about the future of Paul Collins. The Stags boss said: "I am still weighing up whether to keep Paul. I have three more lads coming in this week, which will give me the chance to assess them."
A STORMY RESULT AS REDS ARE DENIED...
Evening Post, 24 July 2006
Mansfield Town 1 - 0 Nottingham Forest
(Match abandoned after 73 minutes due to thunderstorm)
A HEAVY thunderstorm stopped play during this lively pre-season encounter - but not before two of of Forest's "forgotten players" had the chance to shine yet again.
A plethora of pre-season warm-ups in a short space of time has given little away in terms of Colin Calderwood's thinking ahead of the start of the season.
But from the trips to Ilkeston, Rushden, Milton Keynes and Mansfield, it has been the emergence of two players that has illuminated Forest's preparations.
Neil Harris and to a greater extent Gino Padula have been the real successes of Calderwood's first four matches in charge.
At 29 and 30, respectively, the hunger of both could have been in question but they have seized the opportunity to catch the manager's eye after it looked like their City Ground careers could well have been over.
And both will now be high in his thoughts ahead of the big kick-off against Bradford on August 5.
It is a remarkable reversal of fortunes for two players who were frozen out under Gary Megson last season.
Harris was loaned to Gillingham while Nathan Tyson and Grant Holt were recruited in his place.
As for Padula, his treatment by Megson saw him given the cold shoulder after only four games in a Forest shirt, and then left in no doubt about his future as Julian Bennett was signed as his replacement midway through his first season at the City Ground.
But if the pre-season schedule has proved anything, it is that this pair of outcasts would surely have been assets in what was a turbulent campaign last term.
At 29, Harris should be in his prime and he has suggested he still has plenty left in the tank, while he's shown no shortage of desire to rekindle his Forest career.
His intelligent drop-off play was a feature of his performances against Ilkeston and MK Dons, while on Saturday, playing as the focal point of a three-man attack, he showed good awareness when linking up with Jack Lester and Spencer Weir-Daley.
A proven goal-scorer, he has stolen a march on the likes of Holt and Lester in the race to partner Tyson up front.
But Harris knows he will have to get more minutes on the pitch with Tyson if he is to start against Bradford. Padula has one vital asset in his favour as he bids to get the nod on August 5 - a left foot.
Calderwood is concerned by the imbalance in his squad and in the absence of a wide selection of left-footers, the Argentine has understandably come to the fore.
To his credit Padula has taken the opportunity presented to him with assured displays at the back and plenty of adventure going forward.
But it was Saturday that proved what a valuable asset he could be this season, playing on the left of midfield as Calderwood tried out a 3-4-3 formation.
The former QPR man looked comfortable in the more advanced position but perhaps the most impressive aspect of his play was his discipline in helping out at the back.
In one instance he was the furthest man back to deny Simon Brown a clear run at Paul Smith.
With Bennett used as a third centre back in the first half it was perhaps an indication that Calderwood is considering Padula as his first choice left back.
As well as Harris and Padula, Kevin James has been another success in the pre-season programme, but he will have been disappointed to have his chances cut short by the freak weather that called a halt to Saturday's clash with Mansfield.
As part of a three-man attack with Tyson and Holt, he has looked more comfortable when playing as an orthodox winger.
Time is running out for Calderwood to formulate his ideal starting XI.
In what was a hectic pre-season campaign, he now has just two matches left in which to decide on his strongest team.
If it isn't a case of separating the wheat from the chaff, he still has some way to go before whittling down a 34-man squad to what will be his starting line-up on August 5.
Saturday's clash should have given us more of an idea of the manager's thoughts but instead he veered into a completely different direction, trying out a three-man defence for the first time since taking charge at the City Ground.
It resulted in Forest conceding their first goal under his tenure, Stags skipper Richard Barker heading home Matt Hamshaw's cross on the stroke of half time - while an inflated forward line did little to increase their attacking threat.
Ten substitutions at half-time did little to help the fluidity of his side before the game was abandoned because of the storms.
Of the teams, it was Mansfield who looked further along in their preparations and they were worthy of their lead, courtesy of last season's leading scorer Barker.
But Calderwood still has games against Lincoln and Leeds to finalise his plans.
Mansfield: Muggleton, Collins (Jelleyman 45), Hjelde (Buxton 57), John-Baptiste, Mullins, Birchall (Boulding 45), D'Laryea (Arnold 70), Lloyd (Dawson 45), Hamshaw (Coke 58), Barker (Beardsley 70), Brown (Reet 64). Sub not used: White.
Forest: Smith, Padula (Bastians 45), Cullip (Fernandez, 45), Breckin (Thompson, 45), Bennett (Morgan, 45), Perch (Gardner, 45), Southall (Gary Holt, 45), Clingan, (Eaden, 45), Weir-Daley (Tyson, 45), Harris (Grant Holt, 45) Lester (James, 45).
Referee: Mr G. Salisbury (Lancashire).
Attendance: 5,325 (2,104 visitors).
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