CHESTER PREVIEWS, PLUS CONLON INTERVIEW
CHESTER V STAGS PREVIEW
Evening Post, 26 January 2007
While the make-up of Mansfield's central midfield partnership has been in a state of flux for much of this season, there has been one welcome constant.
As injuries have struck down partners Stephen Dawson and now Giles Coke, Jonathan D'Laryea has been an ever-present for the Stags.
That is no mean feat in what has been an eventful season for Mansfield where change, rather than status quo, has been the order of the day.
Only Alex John-Baptiste can match D'Laryea's 100% appearance record.
Even so, the Manchester-born player is taking nothing for granted. At just 21, he knows he still has a lot to learn and is still relatively inexperienced.
But his first-class attitude means that he has every hope of maximising his potential. It is clear that he is ready to take on board all that his new boss Billy Dearden can teach him.
"The gaffer realises how good we can be and he's not happy when we don't reach those standards," said D' Laryea.
"He called me into his office last week and told me that there is an extra level that I can reach - and I agree with him.
"I have been quite happy with my form over the season, but I think in the last couple or three games I have not been at my best.
"I think I have to become more consistent to become a better player.
"I think I am doing that more and more as time goes on, but I can still improve."
D'Laryea feels that the return of Dawson after a two-month lay-off with a back injury has softened the blow of losing Coke.
He is convinced the Irishman is already back to his bustling best, despite having played just three games into his return.
D'Laryea said: "It is disappointing to lose Giles, but it just gives a chance to someone else and maybe someone else might be brought in.
"But Daws has come in and done well. His energy is something that I feel we can't do without. Even if he is not playing well he will run and chase after everything, which lifts the players and the fans."
Chester have not won a home match in League Two since December 9.
But they are sure to offer a physical challenge to Mansfield, something which they have not always relished.
But D'Laryea feels the current squad are starting to come to terms with that aspect of the game.
"We have struggled against the tougher teams in the past, but we are getting better at it now," he said.
"We know now that if we win the battle, then we can then play our football."
Boss Billy Dearden is well aware that Mansfield will have to be on their guard.
He said: "Chester are well in front of us and they have done very well this season. They have got a couple of players out suspended so it might be a good time to catch them.
"But they will probably think the same thing about us with the injuries we have.
"We have to make sure there is no repeat of our last away game at Accrington. We can't set a standard like we did against Walsall and then let ourselves down again.
"But I'm fairly confident that if we play anything like we can and show the right battling qualities then we will get a result."
Alex-John Baptiste (back) is expected to be fit but Johnny Mullins (ankle) is likely to miss out.
Deardens' Chester warning
CHAD website, 25 January 2007
BILLY Dearden has ordered his players to make sure history does not repeat itself as they head to Chester City on Saturday.
Stags did so well to win at Hereford two weeks ago before then letting themselves down in the midweek trip to Accrington Stanley.
So former Chester player Dearden is keen to avoid a repeat 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' after Saturday's superb 2-1 win over leaders Walsall.
"We must make sure history does not repeat itself," he said.
"You can't set your standards one week and then let yourselves down the next match.
"We have got to have the confidence to go to Chester and get a result, but we know we have got to battle more than we did at Accrington.
"Chester have done very well this season but do have a couple of key players suspended and maybe we are going there at the right time."
Dearden is hopeful central defender Alex John-Baptiste will be passed fit from the back injury he suffered last week though right back John Mullins is struggling with his ankle injury.
Chester will be without former Stags Dave Artell and fellow defender Paul Linwood through one-match bans. And, with Sean Harvey struggling with an Achille's injury, City's hopes of continuing with their 3-5-2 system may be thwarted and they may have to go with full backs.
They are likely to include another former Stags in left winger Laurence Wilson.
Despite their good away form they have not won at home since 9th December when they beat Lincoln 4-1 six home games back.
They have only scored one goal and managed one win in their last five matches.
DEARDEN HAPPY WITH STAGS
Evening Post, 25 January 2007
Billy Dearden today urged his Mansfield players to show the same kind of resilience they did against Walsall at Chester on Saturday.
The Stags came from a goal down to beat the top of the table Saddlers 2-1 - only the third time they have overhauled a deficit this season.
Boss Dearden is keen to see the Stags play with the same kind of determination he believes will help them string a consistent run of results together.
"I thought we showed tremendous character to came back from a goal down against the league leaders," he said.
"They were already cock-a-hoop at 0-0 because of the form they are in, so when they went 1-0 up, you wondered how we might respond.
"But we came back into it and scored the goals to go 2-1 up. We were hanging on a little bit at the end, but you expect that against a side like that.
"And Jake Buxton came up with a tremendous clearance at the end so instead of taking one point, we managed to take three.
"We have to keep what we did against Walsall going on Saturday. It will be a difficult game but if we perform like we did then, we aren't going to have any major problems."
Dearden is aware that if Mansfield can get a win at the Saunders Honda Stadium, the Stags then have two home games to follow, against Torquay and Shrewsbury.
But he insists the Stags must concentrate on their task in Cheshire before preparing for those games at Field Mill. He said: "We do have an incentive to win at Chester, but we try to win every game. There are two home games coming up, but the main thing is we have to put our efforts into the Chester game first.
"Even if we do get a result up there, those home games are not going to be easy. Torquay may have lost 5-2 at Notts County but people tell me that it was a lot closer than that scoreline suggests."
Alex John-Baptiste is progressing well from the back injury that forced him off against Walsall.
But Johnny Mullins is struggling with an ankle injury and may not make the Chester trip.
Conlon delighted with start
CHAD website, 25 January 2007
THREE goals in his first three games for Stags, and Mansfield's new striker Barry Conlon is promising there is more to come.
"Things have gone well for me, even though I am not fully match fit yet," he said.
"I have not played much recently but it was great to get a goal so soon at Hereford and I fancied myself for another. You always dream about scoring the night before.
"The gaffer brought me off after an hour though I was bench-watching myself by that time!
"But I am starting to feel stronger now and I will only get better and stronger."
Conlon failed to put away what looked a comfortable one on one against Walsall but scored a much harder chance within 60 seconds.
"I am not the sort of player who gets his head down after making a mistake or when things are not going right," he said.
"People say it was an easier chance but I prefer to think the keeper made a good save myself!
"I don't start feeling sorry for myself and soon after I scored.
"I am forming a good partnership with Martin Gritton, though it is an understanding we still have to work on. He is a good lad and we get one well.
"I like to think I am half clever because I have not got lots of pace and it's all about timing runs and making space.
"But I have been getting some good service and if they continue to do that for me then I hope I can keep on nicking a few goals.
"It is a very young squad here so Martin and I are suddenly among the senior players. I have always looked older than I am. I am only 29 belive it or not!
"But you can always pass stuff down and help them."
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