BUXTON BACK TO FACE STOCKPORT
Buxton back to face shut-out kings
CHAD, 07 February 2007
SKIPPER Jake Buxton returns from suspension as Mansfield Town's new-found confidence faces the toughest of tests at on-fire Stockport County this Saturday (3pm).
The Hatters are enjoying their best run in 16 years.
They have five staight wins behind them without conceding a goal, and seven League wins in the last eight, all seven without conceding.
Indeed, the promotion-chasers have won nine and drawn one of their last 10 home League games too.
But Stags boss Billy Dearden has seen his side open an eight-point gap between themselves and the bottom two after Saturday's 1-1 home draw with Shrewsbury Town and said: "We will be going up to Stockport full of confidence.
"We are unbeaten in four and have scored in every game apart from Hartlepool since I came back.
"We have taken 14 points from the last 24 and should have been unbeaten.
"Certainly over the last eight games, Stockport are the form team up there with Hartlepool and would be top of the table.
"They are a strong side who are hard to beat and they must be doing something right at the back to have all these clean sheets.
"So I doubt it is going to be a feast of goals up there. But we have been scoring regularly so we go there with a positive attitude.
"We know we are capable of scoring against any side in this division, but we will have to be very good up there defensively.
"Jake will be back for us after suspension which will be important as I thought we missed him on Saturday."
Barry Conlon sits out the third and final game of his three-match ban.
But Alex John-Baptiste is expected to be fit, despite struggling with both hamstring and ankle problems.
"I didn't expect Alex to get through the whole match on Saturday," said Dearden.
"He is back in the treatment room right now but should train again Wednesday or Thursday and be all right for Saturday."
Although disappointed not to beat a Shrewsbury side that was down to 10 men for 48 minutes, the draw at least kept Stags' current run going and Dearden said: "I have to praise the lads as they have been very good and worked hard and taken a bit of confidence from results.
"There is now a gap opening up between us and the sides below us and what a difference the full three points would have made on Saturday.
"It would help if we could keep the same 11 together and in the same frame of mind every match, though that can be hard with a young team."
Shrewbsury were leading with a goal by ex-Stags Derek Asamoah when they had striker Michael Symes red-carded on Saturday for a scuffle with Alex John-Baptiste.
But only Simon Brown managed to take one of several good chances Mansfield had to win it and they had to settle for a point.
Dearden said: "I thought we did enough to get all three points on Saturday but maybe our performance didn't justify all three.
"I thought we huffed and puffed but didn't play as well as we can and I didn't think we made the best use of the extra man against 10 men.
"Having said that, we still had all the best chances and enough to win it.
"I changed it round at half time and got Alex John-Baptiste down the right where he worked well with Matt Hamshaw, and Matt put some good crosses in which we got on the end of but couldn't get on target.
"The players feel like we've lost the game but they must get their heads up and get on with it.
"We gave them a goal which I was disappointed with as Asamoah got between two central defenders.
"But Simon's was a good header from a good cross for the equaliser.
"We didn't let ourselves down, but we can play better than that."
Shrewsbury boss Gary Peters was furious at the soft red card earned by Symes and said: "Michael Symes was stupid. If you get the hump with someone then knock them down. But don't get sent off for handbags, which it was - a silly push.
"I have no complaints with the referee. It was the right decision."
KEEPER WHITE IS PRAISED
Evening Post, 07 February 2007
Manager Billy Dearden today praised goalkeeper Jason White's performances since he took over as Mansfield boss.
Out of his shell a bit, started talking a lot more to his back four and he's got a decent understanding with them.
White has spent much of the season vying for the number one jersey with the experienced Carl Muggleton.
But the 24-year old youth product seems to have emerged as a firm first choice since the turn of the year.
Dearden has encouraged White to strive to maintain his current rate of progress for rest of the season.
"Jason has a lot more confidence now and it's helped that he's had a run in team," he said. "He's looking better and better really. I think he's come
"I would like to see him command his box more but I'm pleased with his progress.
"He can still do more but I expect him to do that and he's grown a hell of a lot as a player."
Meanwhile, Dearden has allowed Chris Beardsley to join Conference side Rushden and Diamonds on a permanent transfer.
The striker, who has recovered from a broken leg that ruled him out of most of last season, had been unable to make the most of limited opportunities.
Chris Wood was set to join Ilkeston on loan but has been ill. The deal may yet go through later this week. Fellow youngster Danny Sleath has already agreed to join Conference North side Alfreton on a temporary basis.
Latest | February 2007