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STAGS FOCUS ON SHORING UP DEFENCE
11/August/2006 17:12:40

STAGS FOCUS ON SHORING UP DEFENCE
Evening Post, 11 August 2006
Alex John-Baptiste believes he and his fellow defenders have what it takes to make Mansfield a success story this season.

The Stags host Stockport tomorrow, having collected four points from a possible six in a promising start.

But while their ability to score goals looks as if it will not be a problem, question marks have been raised about their defence.

Central defender John-Baptiste admits things have not gone as well as they might, particularly in the game at Shrewsbury.

But he and his team-mates are determined to put it right and he insists, in time, that the Stags will cut down on the number of soft goals they concede.

"We are confident that we can tidy it up at the back, but it is only the first few matches and we are still getting used to things." said John-Baptiste.

"We need to start keeping clean sheets and it's important because we might go through a barren run where we aren't scoring as many goals. The two goals that Shrewsbury scored against us were poor defensively, but we have worked on it in training and I think there was an improvement against MK Dons.

"I think we are stronger now at the back than last year but we are going to have to continue to get stronger because a lot of sides are going to be direct and ask questions of us by putting longer balls in the box."

After struggling at the beginning of last season under Carlton Palmer, John-Baptiste is pleased Mansfield have got out of the blocks quickly.

"At home we are normally pretty good are we are keen to get another three points in the bag," he said. "But we know it is not going to be easy against Stockport. They might have lost their first two games but we understand they have been a bit unlucky, so we are not taking anything for granted."

Midfielder Giles Coke is Stags' only absentee. He has slight ligament damage to his ankle.

INSIDE TRACKS

LINE-UPS

Mansfield (from) Muggleton, White, Jelleyman, John-Baptiste, Hjelde, Mullins, Buxton, Boulding, Birchall. D'Laryea, Dawson, Lloyd, Hamshaw, Barker, Brown, Reet.

Stockport (from) Spencer, Robinson, Le Fondre, Rose, Allen, Williams, Owen, Dinning, Taylor, Malcolm, Briggs, Dickinson, Murray, Deasy, Clare, Raynes, Bramble.

DANGER MAN

Tesfaye Bramble - Brother of Newcastle's Titus, a dangerous striker who is expected to shake off a calf injury in time for the game.

ONE TO WATCH

Tony Dinning - Experienced midfielder in his second spell at the club after being sold to Wolves for £700,000 in 2000.

REFEREE

Paul Melin (Surrey).

BETTING GUIDE

Stockport are already rooted to the foot of the table and punters should back the Stags with confidence at 4/5 with totalbet to record their second home win in five days and even at 2/1 with Coral to lead at the end of each half. The visitors are 10/3 (VCBet) to stun the home support by coming out on top.



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