NEW LEFT BACK FOR STAGS?
New left back for Stags?
CHAD website, 06 September 2006
PETER Shirtliff is hoping to have a new left back in his defence for Saturday's important visit of Hereford United (3pm).
With Gareth Jelleyman facing a possible lay-off with a knee injury, Shirtliff moved quickly and, as Chad went to press, last night was 'very confident' of bringing in a player from a Championship club with Championship experience.
Despite some fine displays Stags have gone four League games without a win and Shirtliff has said he may make another couple of changes as well.
Centre back Jon Olav Hjelde is running again and faces a fitness test later this week.
If he doesn't make Saturday then Mansfield will hope he will be in contention for Tuesday's trip to Hartlepool United (7.45pm).
But Shirtliff's first concern is the left back slot. Jelleyman was out injured at the end of last season with medial ligament damage in his left knee.
And a freak knock on the same knee during a drop-ball in Friday's 1-0 defeat at Wycombe may have caused a recurrence.
"Gareth is seeing a specialist and having a scan and could face a lay-off. We are hoping it is not as bad as first feared, but it is very sore," said Shirtliff.
"But barring any freak problem, I have a lad coming in tomorrow and he will go straight into the team on Saturday. I am very confident he will sign on a month's loan."
Shirtliff will need to raise the morale of his trrops for Saturday after another fine display produced no reward at Wycombe.
"We have not been getting the rub of the green this season," he said. "But I am a big believer that luck evens itself out and the bottom line is that we have to keep grinding away and eventually it will turn for us.
"Credit to Wycombe's keeper. He made an absolutely unbelievable save to deny Richie Barker. It is such a fine line for us at the moment and we just have to plug away.
"It took us nine games to get six points last season and we only had seven after 12. So we are improving.But we must show a bit more resolve and a bit more ruthlessness."
"The first half was pretty even with not many chances. At the end of the half we had the best chance when Simon Brown was one versus one with the keeper. The bottom line is that is so important to score."
He added: "We had one or two other chances after the break and for the most part there was not a lot in it.
"Their goal was actually down to rubbish play by us in all honesty.
"Stephen Dawson miscontrolled the ball and let it hit his hand when we were attacking down the left. Next thing the ball is in our box and they've scored.
"Taking your chances is so important. I went to watch Barnet play Walsall on Saturday and Barnet should have scored several times. But they only managed one and Walsall scored against the run of play and it was a 1-1 game.
"Games are on a knife-edge in this league and can go either way. We need to show more composure with our defending. I am not 100 per cent happy with our team defending, not just the back four.
"But there is no point in moping around. We are looking forward to the next game so we can put right a few wrongs."
Shirtliff knows a result on Saturday is important but said: "I am not building up the Hereford game into a cup tie.
"But the bottom line is that it is a very important match because it is the next match. That is always the most important one.
"Hereford have just got promoted and are on a bit of a roll with a decent start in the League with 10 points from their first six games.
"Teams coming up have invariably done well in this league and we know it will be a difficult game."
Apart from left back, Shirtliff is contemplating making other changes.
He said: "I do have options. I though Callum Lloyd did okay when he came on and I have Danny Reet and Chris Beardsley waiting for their chance. Chris is looking very sharp and hungry."
His fringe players had the chance to impress in a reserve friendly at Conference North neighbours Alfreton Town last night.
Shirtliff added: "We have a busy time ahead with playing Saturday, Tuesday, for the next three weeks. And if I have to use my whole squad to get a good points return then so be it."
STAGS: FIGHT TO CROSS THAT FINE LINE
Evening Post, 06 September 2006
Peter Shirtliff today demanded that his Stags players do everything they can to bridge the 'fine line' between success and failure.
The Stags boss is disappointed with a points haul of six from the first six games - a record that has yielded just one league victory.
But he knows Mansfield are not far away from finding the winning formula.
Now he wants to see his squad throw off the disappointment of losing their last two games.
"The lads have taken the defeats quite well. I have said to them there is no point moping around. We have to be stronger as a result of the experience," said Shirtliff.
"It is on a knife edge and there is a fine line between winning and losing in this league.
"We are scoring goals but not taking our chances at the key times and that is the difference.
"Against Lincoln, Michael Boulding should have scored to equalise and they went straight up and got a penalty. Browny should have scored in the first half at Wycombe when he was clean through. We need to show a bit more composure in front of goal."
Shirtliff reaffirmed his intention - first outlined straight after Friday night's 1-0 defeat at Wycombe - to change things around for Saturday's visit of Hereford.
He said: "Beardsley is looking sharp and hungry and Reet is also knocking on the door and Callum Lloyd played well at Wycombe when he came on.
"I'm looking at possibly making two or three changes for the Hereford game."
Shirtliff is expecting Hereford - newly-promoted from the Conference - to be a stiff test at Field Mill.
"Like most teams who come out of the Conference, they are on a roll after promotion. It will be a difficult game - but I am not building it up into a cup final."
Skipper Richard Barker had five stitches in a cut above his eye sustained at the Causeway Stadium but is now fine.
Gareth Jelleyman has a knock on his knee and could be a doubt for Saturday but the Stags are understood to have agreed to bring in a loan player from a Championship club.
Jon-Olav Hjelde (groin) is not likely to be fit in time but Giles Coke (ankle) will be available for selection.
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