PREMIERSHIP LEADERS COME TO FIELD MILL
WE CAN PULL OFF MIRACLE AGAIN
Evening Post, 19 September 2006
It may be more than ten years since Mansfield last played a top flight club in the League Cup (comment from Martin - this is not true, eg. Southampton in Sep 2000) - but for Stags assistant Paul Holland it is an occasion still etched on the memory.
Back then, in the 1994-1995 season, Mansfield, as now, were a side struggling in the bottom half of the basement division as they journeyed to play the mighty Leeds United at Elland Road.
Howard Wilkinson's side had been league champions in 1991-1992 and were still a formidable outfit on their own patch. Indeed, in their previous home match they had beaten league champions Manchester United.
No one gave Mansfield a prayer - and justifiably so. Yet Andy King's troops - led by an inspirational performance from Holland as a makeshift central defender - recorded a famous 1-0 victory to hit the national headlines.
The Stags went on to complete the job with a goalless draw in the second leg at Field Mill, before transforming their season to finish in the play-offs - where they lost to derby rivals Chesterfield in the semi-finals.
Holland himself earned a move to Sheffield United at the end of that campaign and carved out a successful career until it was cut short by a knee injury.
"We went up to Leeds and we didn't know what to expect," he said. "In the end they fielded a near full-strength team while we had one or two lads out.
"They had just beaten Man United and people were saying we would get thrashed, yet we somehow managed to get the win.
"Even then we knew we still had the hard part of the job to do back at Field Mill.
"It was a great atmosphere for the return game and we had a couple of lads in on loan and one of them, Colin Hoyle, was sent off.
"When that happened, we played three at the back and I was drafted in as one of them from midfield, but we managed to hold on.
"That is what cup football is all about. If you conduct yourself and prepare in the right way then you never know.
"There are always cup upsets, so you just have to make sure you give yourselves the best possible chance."
Comparison between those 1994 games and tonight's match is irresistible - even though tonight's game is a one-off tie, rather than over two legs.
Just like then, Mansfield are struggling to make headway in the bottom division of the Football League and have not got their season off to the best of starts.
And Portsmouth, like Leeds, have started well and are top of the Premiership.
This time, of course, Holland is on the other side of the white line trying to plot, rather than implement, Portsmouth's downfall.
He knows, though, that any shock is still highly unlikely.
Holland said: "We are under no illusions that it is going to be very tough for us, but it is a game we have been looking forward to.
"The odds are not in our favour but we will approach it like any other game and try to play our own football. We always fancy our chances of doing well at home - whoever we play."
PLAYERS AIM TO RIP UP THE FORM BOOK
Evening Post, 19 September 2006
Giles Coke is hoping Mansfield can embarrass Harry Redknapp for a second time when Portsmouth travel to Field Mill in the Carling Cup second round tonight.
Coke netted the only goal with a spectacular volley as the Stags shocked Redknapp's Southampton at the same stage of the same competition last year.
Now the midfielder is determined to help leave the current Pompey boss red-faced again - providing he can win a place in Peter Shirtliff's starting line-up.
"I hadn't scored for the club before that goal so it was great to open my account against a team like Southampton," said Coke. "It was Peter's first game in charge after taking over (as caretaker-manager from Carlton Palmer) so it also meant it was a fantastic start for the gaffer by pulling off an upset.
"But this game will be even harder and I'm sure Harry Redknapp will be ready for us this time.
"We don't know what team they are going to send but, whatever it is, they will put out a strong side.
"We just have to play as well as we can and give our all and then you never know what might happen.
"I'm hoping I will get the nod to play because I enjoy testing myself against the best players - and I'm sure the rest of the lads do too."
Mansfield set up the chance to meet Pompey by winning 2-0 at Huddersfield in August's first round with goals from Michael Boulding and Richard Barker.
And although pleased with the draw, Coke would rather have played at Fratton Park. " We all enjoyed playing at Newcastle in the FA Cup last year," he said.
"It was a great day out for everyone involved. So I would have preferred to play Portsmouth away because that would have given us the chance to play in front of a big crowd.
"But it is good for our fans it is at home and I think they will make it a good atmosphere.
"But we will be trying to attack them at the right times because no one is expecting us to win. We have nothing to lose."
In last season's match at Newcastle, Mansfield were not outclassed as they lost just 1-0 to a late goal from Alan Shearer.
CHANGE OF MODE FOR RICH POMPEY
Evening Post, 19 September 2006
Portsmouth's mega-rich stars will be forced to change in a temporary building when they visit Mansfield in the Carling Cup second round tonight.
A water leak which flooded the changing rooms at Field Mill
means that Premiership leaders Pompey and boss Harry Redknapp - used to the best that money can buy - will have to make do with basic facilities for their trip to north Notts.
"It is not the type of thing Portsmouth will be used to but I'm sure they will be professional about things," said Stags manager Peter Shirtliff.
Redknapp has spent new owner Alexandre Gaydamak's millions prudently and signed a wealth of talent and experience this summer such as Sol Campbell, David James, Nwankwo Kanu and Nottingham-born Andy Cole to turn Pompey from Premiership strugglers to top dogs.
If they keep another clean sheet against Bolton at Fratton Park next Monday, they will equal Chelsea's record of six in a row from the start of a Premiership season.
But tonight is the time for Redknapp's newest acquisitions to show their style against the League Two minnows
Redknapp, who lost at Field Mill in the Carling Cup this time last year when manager of Southampton, has a ghost to lay to rest.
He said: "We are going there with a side that can win. Andy Cole is getting fit and will definitely play.
"Manuel Fernandes has aggression, a great engine, like a young Paul Ince. Nikola Kranjcar is a top footballer who can really play.
"It's encouraging to see them coming in after such a great start to the season, but it is only a start.
"The danger is we might have set our standards too high - but we are enjoying it."
SHIRTLIFF LOOKS TO NEXT TEST
Evening Post, 19 September 2006
Stags boss Peter Shirtliff insists he is more concerned about the visit of former non-leaguers Accrington Stanley on Saturday than that of Premiership leaders Portsmouth tonight.
Mansfield take on Pompey in the Carling Cup second round having lost four of their last five league games.
Harry Redknapp's side, on the other hand, have won four and drawn five of their first five matches without conceding a goal, to head the Premiership by a point from Manchester United.
But Shirtliff admits his main concern is not how to stop the likes of Andy Cole but plotting the downfall of Stanley - who were in the UniBond League less than five years ago.
"It will be interesting to see what reaction I get from the players after the two away defeats," he said.
"It is a good test for them playing against Premiership quality.
"I am hoping our fans will turn out in force and make it a good atmosphere, but as soon as the game is over then my concentration will be totally on the Accrington game and I hope that will be the same for the players as well."
Shirtliff got one over on Redknapp last season when, in his first game in charge after taking over from Carlton Palmer, he guided the Stags to a 1-0 victory over Southampton.
But the Mansfield manager knows it will be a much tougher feat to pull off another shock now the former West Ham boss is at Pompey.
Simon Brown will be out for the foreseeable future after having an knee operation yesterday.
Jon-Olav Hjelde (groin) is also likely to miss out but Gareth Jelleyman is fit for selection.
Stags prepare to face Premiership leaders
CHAD website, 18 September 2006
MANSFIELD Town's hopes of returning to winning ways could not be tougher tomorrow (Tuesday, 7.45pm) when surprise Premiership leaders Portsmouth visit Field Mill in the Carling Cup second round.
Pompey sit proudly on top of the pile and have not even conceded a goal yet this season.
And, whatever side Harry Redknapp chooses to send out tomorrow, it will be a strong one with summer signing Andy Cole an almost certain starter.
However, Pompey will be forced to 'rough it' somewhat at Field Mill where a burst pipe means the dressing rooms are closed and portable buildings with changing facilities are being hurredly hired in.
Immediately after losing for the fourth time in five games at Torquay on Saturday, a dejected Stags boss Peter Shirtliff said he wasn't interested in Portsmouth.
But today he said: "Of coure I am interested in them - it is our next game.
"It will be interesting to see if there is a reaction from the players. It will be a good test for us against quality Premiership players and it will be difficult. So let's see which of my players are up for it.
"I am hoping for a good atmosphere and a good performance. But as soon as it is over then I will be looking forward to playing Accrington Stanley at home on Saturday and I hope my players feel that way as well.
"Portsmouth have managed five consecutive clean sheets which would certainly do me. Good luck to them.
"They have certainly strengthened up their squad and spent a lot of money which is what you have to do in the Premiership.
"Harry is a good football man who likes his teams to play football. But we knocked his Southampton side out last season and I hope I can get another one up on him tomorrow night. It is a cup tie and anything can happen - you never know. We will give it a go."
At this stage of the Carling Cup last season, Shirtliff - in his first game in charge - saw off Redknapp's young Southampton side.
Stags will definitely be without Simon Brown, Jon Hjelde and Alan Sheehan tomorrow.
Unfortunately, Brown's injury looks to be worse than first thought. It was believed to be a dead leg but a specialist report today was expected to confirm a knee problem which could see him missing for several weeks. He may even have surgery this afternoon if required.
On top of that, Hjelde is suffering some discomfort as he tries to shake off a groin strain while Leicester City do not want on-loan defender Sheehan to become cup-tied.
Carling Cup: Mansfield v Portsmouth
Monday, 18 September 18:19 BST
Mansfield v Portsmouth
It will surely be a packed house at Field Mill when Portsmouth turn up for the Carling Cup fixture against Mansfield.
Pompey currently sit at the top of the Premiership, and are the only team in the top English leagues yet to concede a goal this season. Harry Redknapp's side are the team to beat right now, and will not want to end their unbeaten run against a League Two side.
Portsmouth should hand debuts to Niko Kranjcar, Manuel Fernandes, Andy Cole and Rodolph Douala, who all signed for the club during the recent summer transfer window. Ireland international Andy O'Brien will also be looking to make a rare start as he stakes his claim for a regular place in the first team.
Mansfield have not had a great start to the season, with only two league wins recorded so far. All eyes will be on striker Richie Barker, who is expected to be the main threat for the home side.
Other players to watch out for are Irish youngster Alan Sheehan and winger Matthew Hamshaw, both of inject some creativity into the Mansfield play.
Mansfield (from): White, Muggleton, Mullins, Buxton, Baptiste, Sheehan, Jelleyman, Boulding, Coke, Hamshaw, Lloyd, D'Laryea, Dawson, Barker, Reet, Beardsley.
Portsmouth (from): James, Kiely, Johnson, O'Brien, Campbell, Primus, Taylor, Pamarot, Stefanovic, Kranjcar, Fernandes, Douala, David, Mendes, O'Neill, Thompson, Koroman, Hughes, Kanu, Cole, LuaLua, Mwaruwari.
Latest | September 2006