PREVIEWS, PLUS ASA CHARLTON TOLD NO DEAL
No panic as Stags search for elusive safety point
CHAD website, 26 April 2007
TWO games to go and, mathematically, struggling Mansfield Town can still be relegated to the Conference.
But boss Billy Dearden is not panicking and is just asking his young injury-ravaged side to concentrate on getting a long overdue result when Barnet visit on Saturday (3pm) and try to finish the season on a high.
It would certainly take an extraordinary sequence of results for the six sides below Mansfield to drag them into the mire and Dearden said: "I don't talk about it, but it is there. That's the reality of it.
"If we lose both our games and other results go the wrong way then it could still happen.
"We are doing the best we can with the players that are available.
"And if we play like we did in the second half at Swindon last week there's no reason why we shouldn't get a result against Barnet on Saturday and be safe.
"It is up to us. I have been saying for two or three weeks that we need a win and we just can't seem to get it.
"We don't want to be going to Bury on the last day of the season still needing points, though if it comes to that then that's life.
"But I don't think it will come to that. If we are right on Saturday we can get a result. I want us to end the season on a high.
"I know we have not been playing very well but it has been difficult to do that. But I do expect better from them than I have been getting and I think the young lads managed to produce that for me in the second half last week.
"After such a bad start it would have been easy for them to just go under, but I thought they showed some character in the second half.
"It is so difficult with so many injuries and having to put young players in that would not have been there in normal circumstances.
"Ideally you put young lads in and then take them out again. We have not been able to do that.
"I am doing my best to keep them all up. It is easy to let shoulders drop and I don't want to see long faces.
"I want them to think about their game but not to worry about it."
With four straight home defeats, no wins in eight games and the fans' campaign against owner Keith Haslam still in full cry, home crowds have dropped to less than 1,800 Stags fans.
But, Dearden added: "We really need the fans to come back and get behind us this Saturday.
"Every team needs their fans and we really need them to be our 12th man on Saturday."
Dearden said he was not willing to risk any of his injured players if it meant they could suffer long term or career-threatening problems due to being pushed back too early.
Only skipper Jake Buxton has an outside chance of a return but Dearden said: "It is not looking very likely. And I won't make a decision until Saturday lunchtime."
Midfielder Giles Coke (knee ligaments) has gone to Lilleshall National Rehabilitaton Centre for a week as part of his recovery programme.
Unlucky Charton told no deal next season
CHAD website, 26 April 2007
Asa Charlton has been told he can leave Mansfield Town.
But Stags boss Billy Dearden has told the left back he will do all he can to help him find another club.
Former Mansfield manager Peter Shirtliff decided to take a chance on the 28-year-old non-league defender last November and offered him a contract until the end of the season.
But, after just two appearances, he was unable to force a regular spot. And just when he would have had the chance of a late run of games to prove his worth, the unlucky Charlton suffered a serious knee injury which necessiated a season-ending operation.
"I have made Asa available but he has been as good as gold and I will do all I can to help him find another club," said Dearden.
"He has been a bit unlucky here."
Dearden has already told strikers Martin Gritton and Barry Conlon that there will be no contracts for them next season and other players are expected to learn their futures early next week.
Strikeforce can go as Stags aim to end home hell
CHAD website, 26 April 2007
STAGS boss Billy Dearden has begun his search for a new strike force as Mansfield aim to end their home hell against Barnet this Saturday (3pm).
Barry Conlon and Martin Gritton are both expected to be involved but the two strikers, whose goals helped shoot Stags up the League Two table after their arrival in January, have been told this week that they will not be offered deals next year.
Even so, Dearden is hoping they can regain their goal touch and go out on a high against Barnet this Saturday as his inexperienced and injury-ravaged side look to end a miserable spell of three successive home defeats, four defeats on the bounce and eight games without a win.
As top scorer Richie Barker headed for Hartlepool, Dearden brought in Gritton on loan from Lincoln and took over Darlington hit man Conlon's contract until the end of the season.
The pair hit it off immediately with five goals in their first three games together.
But Conlon was sent off in the next game at Chester and, although Gritton did hit a hat-trick past Torquay, the pair have struggled to recapture that early form.
"They set off like a house on fire together but, for whatever reason, that didn't continue," said Dearden.
"If they had pulled up some trees in the last month then they might have been staying here next season.
"To be fair, it's not all down to them though as we have not had a team to put out.
"I decided to try to play someone alongside them with a bit of pace to get round the back. But different things have cropped up since then.
"I have spoken to them both and they understand. But they are both still our players for the last two games and have to go out and play well to get themselves a club.
"Sometimes it can go against you telling players early and I know Martin could go back to Lincoln and be involved in the Play-offs with them.
"That's why I left him out last weekend so he could get his head round everything. Hopefully he will play for us this weekend and will be back with Lincoln for the Play-offs as soon as our season has ended.
"I have been looking out for strikers for the last few weeks - it's just a case of if I can get them here."
Only skipper Jake Buxton has an outside chance of returning from Stags' lengthy injury list for the Barnet visit.
Matt Hamshaw and Asa Charlton went under the knife last week making it five players in three weeks to have operations and only eight players were available for training on Monday.
They even had to recall 18-year-old Chris Wood from a loan spell at Ilkeston to make up the numbers while 17-year-old trainee Jamie McGhee came on as a late substitute for an unexpected debut.
Stags also lost on-loan midfielder Bryan Hodge last week after he was recalled by parent club Blackburn Rovers for 'disciplinary reasons' though they have not yet been disclosed by the Premiership club.
Hodge (19) made a Man of the Match debut in his first game against Wycombe Wanderers on 24th February and the Scottish U20 international looked a hot prospect.
But that same night he was arrested for drink-driving in Blackpool, given a three-year driving ban, and never quite recaptured the form of his early appearances
In total Hodge, who had never played League football before that debut, made nine starts for the Stags.
The football club stressed the decision had come from Blackburn's end.
"It's a shame Blackburn have recalled Bryan. I don't know if that will be it with him here. We will have to wait and see what happens with him over the summer," said Dearden.
As Chad went to press Stags could still mathematically get relegated though it was highly unlikely with the fixtures the six sides below them had left, and if Wrexham failed to beat Shrewsbury last night (Tuesday) that left them safe anyway.
"I want to see us go out and win our last two games now," said Dearden.
"I want the fans to come down on Saturday and really get behind us and cheer us on.
"If the youngsters are struggling then try to stay behind us and not get on their backs as that has been theproblem in the last couple of home games.
"Losing at home with the crowd at them, they just go into their shells. But let's see if we can go out on a high for next season.
"We have had a bad time but I am confident that if we had kept the team of five or six weeks ago without so many injuries then we would have finished comfortably in the top half of the table."
Saturday's visitors Barnet, including former Stags striker Adam Birchall, had steered themselves clear of trouble with three wins and a draw before last Saturday's 5-0 drubbing at Grimsby Town.
While the Mariners were filling the Barnet net, Stags' depleted side were crasghing 2-0 at promotion-chasing Swindon and finished the game with four teenagers on the pitch.
Afterwards, Dearden said: "I am disappointed - we just can't seem to get a result.
"We were never going to come down here and create chance after chance, but in the second half we caused them a few problems.
"We tried to pass the ball and we did the best we could. But we're in a run and we can't stop the slide.
"It's up to me to do something about it, but I've got to do it with what's in the club now."
Stags have confirmed a second pre-season friendly. They will take on League One Huddersfield Town at Field Mill on Saturday, 4th August (3pm).
Latest | April 2007