INJURY WORRIES FOR STAGS
AWAY FORM FOCUS VITAL TO BUXTON
Evening Post, 15 September 2006
Jake Buxton knows that Mansfield have to improve their away record - and quickly - if they are going to challenge for a play-off spot.
The 21-year-old defender was disappointed the Stags could not hold on for a draw at Hartlepool on Tuesday, where they went down 2-0.
Buxton feels Mansfield have acquitted themselves quite well so far this season on their travels - despite not registering a league win.
But he is well aware he and his team-mates - who make the long trip to Torquay this weekend - must start getting the results to go with their performances.
"I don't think we won away last season until the end of October (2-0 at Cheltenham) and we can't afford to do that this season," said Buxton.
"We have to start competing and getting the points on the board if we still want to get in the play-offs. We wanted to get nine points out of nine from our three games leading up to the Portsmouth game, but know we have to look to make it six from nine.
"I don't really know what went wrong on Tuesday. I suppose we were a bit naive and conceded goals when we weren't even looking like conceding them. We competed well for 75 minutes on Tuesday but after the game we realised they were the better side over the 90 minutes.
"There is something not quite right but the thing is, we are not playing badly and the gaffer has a decent balance to the side.
"It's just one of those things. We just have to carry on working hard."
Mansfield have shown their ability to score goals, but they are still in search of their first clean sheet.
Buxton feels the key to a shut-out could be the role of Stags' forwards.
He said: "At times we seem to be a side where everyone comes alive when we have the ball but perhaps sometimes hides a bit when we haven't got it.
"Of the starting 11 there is the back four, Whitey in goal and Jonathan D'Laryea who are capable defenders but all the other lads are attack-minded.
"Asking them to do a defensive job is asking a lot, but we need to start doing it if we are going to start winning more." Although the Stags have yet to win any of their first four away league games, Buxton insists Mansfield do not fear playing away from Field Mill.
"We don't go away trying to get a point," he said. "We always go with the intention of getting three.
"The good thing is we seem to win games when we have to win them. We beat Hereford last week when we really needed to and Torquay away last season. We could really do with an away win on the road now, so hopefully we can repeat that this weekend."
Several players face fitness tests after picking up knocks on Tuesday.
But it is hoped Richard Barker (head and foot), Buxton (foot), Alex John-Baptiste (ribs) and Stephen Dawson (calf) will all be fit.
Of those previously Simon Brown (dead leg) and Jon-Oav Hjelde (groin) are unlikely to feature but boss Peter Shirtliff is more hopeful over Gareth Jelleyman (knee).
Stags' injury worries ahead of Torquay trip
CHAD website, 14 September 2006
Mansfield Town's treatment room was worryingly full this morning ahead of Saturday's game at Torquay United (3pm).
The Stags squad will be travelling down to Devon tomorrow and training halfway down.
But manager Peter Shirtliff's preparations have been hampered by new knocks suffered by several players in Tuesday's disappointing 2-0 defeat at Hartlepool United.
Central defenders Jake Buxton (foot) and Alex John-Baptiste (ribs), along with midfielder Stephen Dawson (calf), are all new worries while skipper Richie Barker, already playing with five stitches in head wound, suffered another bang to the head as well as a foot injury.
Fellow striker Simon Brown is still on crutches with the dead leg suffered last Saturday and defenders Gareth Jelleyman (knee) and Jon Olav Hjelde (groin) are still struggling.
Shirtliff is already fielding a side with eight players aged 21 and under.
"We just have to get on with it," he said. "I am hopeful most of them will be all right to play.
"Most of them are contact injuries from Tuesday. We will just have to tread lightly in training and see who is available to travel.
"The bottom line at Hartlepool was that we were not resilient enough. Hartlepool are a good side with a decent squad of players that have played at a higher level.
"They had more experience throughout the team than us. But if you are going to progress in life then that is the sort of place you have to go and get a result.
"I was disappointed with some of my players and now I am looking for a reaction from them at Torquay.
"I know there are a lot of young players. But they have got to grow up quickly - it's a hard world.
"They can't keep using it as an excuse. With our wage bill it is inevitably young players we can afford.
"Torquay have made a good start and it will be a difficult game for us. Ian Atkins has picked them up and we know they will be hard to beat.
"We have to improve on Tuesday's performance. We never got behind Hartlepool or penetrated them. There was no determination to get to the back of them and consequently we were shooting from 20-25 yards all the time."
'IT'S TIME TO GET NASTY TO PUT US BACK ON TRACK,' SAYS WHITE
Evening Post, 14 September 2006
Jason White today called on the Mansfield squad to stick together and grind a way out of their sticky patch.
The Stags were beaten for the third time in four matches with a 2-0 defeat at Hartlepool on Tuesday night.
But goalkeeper White - who made several fine saves to keep Mansfield in the game at Victoria Park - believes he and his team-mates have the ability to turn things round.
"I think we defended quite well at Hartlepool but the boss made the point after the game that we are not nasty enough and we are too nice as players sometimes," said White.
"He is right. We have to be stronger and work together as a team, especially when the going gets tough towards the end of games. We need to grind out a result in games like that - even if it is not pretty.
"We had good spells of possession and we didn't create as much as we'd have liked but you are going to get that sometimes away from home.
"Hartlepool were not a bad side, but the disappointing thing was that at the very worst we wanted a 0-0 and we weren't able to close the game out.
"But I think we will be all right. We have the chance to get back to winning ways at Torquay and if we do it will do us good ahead of two home games coming up.
"We are itching to get back out there on the pitch and put things right and we are optimistic we can do that."
White was handed his first league start this season against Hereford last Saturday in place of veteran Carl Muggleton. And the youngster insists the friendly rivalry between the two has helped drive his standards higher.
Mansfield have played eight league games this season but have yet to keep a clean sheet. Their only shut-out came in the 2-0 Carling Cup win at Huddersfield.
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