REACTION FROM STUART WATKISS
WATKISS SENT FROM BENCH AFTER RED CARD
Evening Post, 14 August 2002
Stuart WATKISS said he had a lot of pride in his team's performance after their 3-2 defeat at highly-fancied Wigan Athletic.
Watkiss was sent from the dugout after Scott Sellars received a red card for a clash with Latics midfielder Jason Jarrett.
Two goals from Nathan Ellington, purchased for £1.2m from Bristol Rovers last season, left Stags with a mountain to climb before a Colin Larkin double drew them level.
But Jason de Vos's 64th-minute header was enough to give Wigan the points.
Watkiss said he was pleased with much of what he had seen but was frustrated that Stags conceded two more goals from set pieces.
He said: "I'm really proud of the lads in many aspects of the game in our general play because our passing was good and we are creating chances.
"But the main problem again is that we haven't been able to deal with set pieces and, without wanting to single anyone out, Stuart Reddington should not be getting outjumped by someone like Nathan Ellington who is six inches shorter than he is.
"Their third goal was from a free header. The warning signs were there but we did not heed them and the quality of our play and the level of commitment we had shown were undone."
He said he would wait to see a video before commenting on Sellars' sending off.
"I'm not sure if Scott did kick someone but I would like to have a look at it on the video," he added.
"I let my feelings run away with me.
"But everyone in football recognises that a good referee is one you don't notice and everyone in the stadium will have talked about his performance."
He is now determined to work on Stags' defence before Saturday's game against Wycombe Wanderers and has not ruled out the possibility of a move into the transfer market.
Veteran Keith Curle is being lined up on a short-term basis and Watkiss is also looking out for someone on a more permanent basis to cover for the injured Dion Scott, who will be missing for three to four months.
The fact Matthew Gadsby, who was captured on a three-month loan, has returned to Walsall means that the situation is even more urgent.
Watkiss furious as referee steals the show
STAGS boss Stuart Watkiss was furious that Hull referee Paul Robinson stole the show at Wigan last night.
Robinson red-carded Scott Sellars after a 25th minute bust-up between the sides following a foul by David Jervis and he also banished Watkiss to the stand for his protests.
The 10-men Stags eventually lost a see-saw thriller 3-2 but Watkiss said most of the talk afterwards inevitably centered on Mr Robinson.
"Obviously I am already in trouble so I have to choose my words carefully," he said.
"I don't know if Scott flicked a foot at their lad and I will have to see a video before I can comment.
"But I do find it hard to see how Scott can go and not the other man. To be fair I did let my feelings run away with me and I was sent off and have to accept it.
"It is always the sign of a good referee when he's not noticed. But everyone will be talking about this one and not the game.
"He will have his name in all the papers this morning and I am sure he has a scrapbook he keeps all his clippings in. So I am sure he is having a good morning."
Watkiss added: "The game was a great spectacle and if they are second favourites to go up I felt we were every bit as good as them.
"I am really proud of the lads in many aspects of the game. Yes, we rode our luck at times but only when we were pushing with 10 men to get something out of it."
Stags step up search for central defender
Whether Keith Curle agrees to sign short term or not, Mansfield manager Stuart Watkiss is determined to sign an experienced, dominant central defender on a long term basis this week.
The 38-year-old Curle is still stalling on a decision whether or not to help out at Field Mill on a week to week basis.
But, with Wigan's winner in their 3-2 success last night again coming from a set piece, Watkiss' patience is wearing thin.
"We have conceded six goals in two games, mostly from set pieces, and that isn't good enough," he said.
"I have an old fashioned centre half in mind who can head a ball and has a lot of experience. He has a year to go on his current contract so it needs sorting out but I want him in long term as soon as we can.
"We conceded goals from set pieces in pre-season games and I had hoped we'd learned our lesson. But clearly we haven't and now it's proved costly.
"I hope we can still come to an agreement with Keith Curle, maybe today. But it would only be short term and if he leaves us for a manager's job next week it would just leave us back where we are now.
"Getting someone in long term takes priority over Keith Curle."
LIVELY LARKIN POPS TWO MORE IN
Evening Post, 14 August 2002
Wigan Athletic 3 v 2 Mansfield Town
Having watched plenty of football over the last 20-odd years, it is pretty obvious to me that you learn the most about your team when the chips are down.
It is all right when you are cruising, the players punctuating passes with the flicks and tricks, while the crowd lap it up and shout 'ole' until they are hoarse.
But you gain a greater indication of where your team is in the whole scheme of things when things are not going their way.
And, in that respect, there were plenty of questions answered by Mansfield Town at the JJB Stadium last night.
After 23 minutes, they found themselves a player down, a manager banished to the directors' box and a goal behind, all in the space of a crazy minute.
It seemed as if the world was conspiring against them and another goal from Nathan Ellington five minutes afterwards simply enhanced the misery.
Two goals from a striker who cost £1.2million suddenly brought everything into perspective after Saturday's win over Plymouth.
So this is what Division Two is all about.
But the severity of the situation produced a Stags comeback that, although it went unrewarded in terms of points, will be remembered for a long time.
It is not a common occurrence to see a team of ten come back from a two-goal deficit to draw level. Especially as the team in question has been written off by every publication from Autocar to Whizzer and Chips and they are playing against a side many believe should gain promotion to Division One because of the size of the chairman's wallet.
It was not really the case that Wigan let it slip. They tried to turn the screw but, as they attempted to kill the game off, they kept finding that Stags weren't that sleepy.
Slack marking gave Colin Larkin, already becoming a folk hero, the opportunity to nod one back just before half-time and he cracked in a beauty ten minutes into the second half to stun the Latics fans, who thought their team only had to turn up, even if most of the town didn't.
They eventually gained their winner with a Jason de Vos header midway through the half and, to be honest, it would be hard to say they didn't deserve to win on the amount of territorial advantage they enjoyed or the chances they created - with Kevin Pilkington again excellent between the posts.
But football isn't about statistics and percentages of play. It's about romance, the battle of the underdog in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation who emerges with the skirmish with pride.
And that is a commodity that Mansfield and their fans, who outshouted their opponents' followers in an amphitheatre less than a quarter full, can extract in abundance.
However, that only gets you so far and Watkiss was right to say that Scott Sellars' sending off was not the reason why Stags lost the game.
It was their marking at set pieces, which have contributed to five of the six goals they have conceded so far this season.
That is something to be worked on and was the overriding negative on a night when the commitment, effort, and Larkin's finishing, would have been at the forefront of the minds of most of the Stags faithful as they left the impressive arena.
As for the sending off, I'll have to play the Arsene Wenger card. A melee ensued and I didn't see it. But, had Sellars committed an act worthy of a red card, I think there would have been less surprise among the fans of both sides.
Certainly with Watkiss, who was sent packing as well before the free-kick had even been taken.
But Stags demonstrated they had enough in the locker to make a fight of it and, in doing so at the home of the second favourites for the title, showed they really don't have anything to be frightened of in Division Two.
The basic ingredients are there. All that is needed is a bit of tinkering around the edges.
Wigan 3 Stags 2
DEFIANT 10-men Mansfield went down battling at multi-millionaires Wigan Athletic, despite an incredible fightback at the magnificent JJB Stadium last night.
A 25th-minute fracas saw Scott Sellars (vionlent conduct) red-carded and manager Stuart Watkiss (dissent) sent into the stand for the visitors, who were furious that the referee had not red-carded any Wigan players from the melee.
Even worse, Mansfield were immediately hit by two goals in five minutes from expensive star striker Nathan Ellington.
But Stags new boy Colin Larkin poached goals in first half stoppage time and again on 54 minutes to give hope of an unlikely point.
That was soon ended by Wigan skipper Jasin De Vos's header on 64 minutes, but Mansfield again showed they will not be over-awed by Second Divison football.
Mansfield won two early free kicks, the second of which keeper Filan turned away for the evening's first corner.
Mansfield were in trouble on 15 minutes when Jervis slipped, and gifted the ball to Ellington on the Wigan right.
But with Liddell in a great position spare in front of goal, Moore thankfully managed to cut out his low cross and concede the corner.
Stags began to concede a worrying number of free kicks around their box, and Pilkington was relieved to see Williamson behind him as Ellington tried a low finish following a scramble.
But all hell was let loose in the 24th minute after a clash between Jervis and Jarrett on the right.
Several players ran in to join the argument, and after consultation with his assistant referee Paul Robinson booked Jarrett but produced a red card for Sellars.
Stags manager Watkiss was also banished to the stand for his protest. And when the game re-started with Kennedy's free kick the Latics snatched the lead through Ellington.
De Vos forced a save from Pilkington with Wigan's first attempt, but £1.2 million hit man Ellington was there to ram home the loose ball.
Worse was to come as Ellington doubled his tally five minutes later. Jarrett crossed on the right and Ellington met it with a perfect looping header from 18 yards that sailed over Pilkington and dropped just under the bar.
McKenzie's shot lifted the visitors' spirits as they finally enjoyed a good spell of possession with one-touch football that drew applause from both sets of supporters.
The game entered six minutes of first half stoppage time and Pilkington had to get down smartly to the foot of his right hand post to keep out McCulloch's low shot.
Larkin's second goal in as many games gave Mansfield a lifeline in the last minute of stoppage time.
White did exceptionally well to create space for a cross from the left of the box, and Larkin's flicked header from eight yards seemed to take an eternity to find the net as it went in off the right hand post.
Mansfield's 10 men were expecting Wigan to go for the jugular after the break, and were relieved to see Ellington waste a golden opportunity to complete a hat-trick on 51 minutes.
Liddell picked him out unmarked at the far post, but he somehow headed wide of the gaping target from eight yards.
The pressure continued a minute later as Liddell flashed a vicious shot just over from the right of the box.
But Stags had the perfect answer as Larkin crashed home a precious equaliser on 54 minutes.
White was again the provider, bursting past two opponents in the centre circle before guiding the ball into the path of Larkin. He took it on before delivering an unstoppable low finish to send the travelling supporters wild.
Stung by this, Wigan twice came close, both chances falling to Ellington. First he nodded over a Green cross and then at full stretch in reaching a long, high through ball, he did supremely well to guide his volley round the approaching Pilkington, and the crowd held their breath as it dropped inches wide.
The blue tide continued as Pilkington got down well to grab hold of McCulloch's rasping low shot after he had made space with good trickery on the left of the box.
Then De Vos saw his firm header from a corner nodded off the line by Disley to concede another corner.
But when that came over the Wigan skipper made no mistake at the second time of asking as his bullet header bulged the net.
Stags had another huge let-off on 69 minutes when McCulloch split open the defence to find Ellington on his own six yards from goal, but again he somehow missed the target and the hat-trick remained elusive.
Larkin fired a good chance wide after loose defending by Dining.
But Wigan continued to go for the kill and Pilkington saved well from McCulloch's curling effort while Jervis produced the tackle of the game to halt Ellington as he shaped to finish.
WIGAN: Filan, Brannan, Kennedy, De Vos, Jackson, Green, Jarrett, Dining, McCulloch, Liddell, Ellington. Subs not used: Yeomans, Flynn, Teale, Roberts, Mitchell.
STAGS: Pilkington, Reddington, Moore, Jervis, MacKenzie (Corden 64), Lawrence, Sellars, Williamson, Disley, Larkin, A. White (Christie 78). Subs not used: Clarke, Bacon, J. White.
REFEREE: Paul Robinson of Hull. ATTENDANCE: 5,837.
SCORERS: Wigan - Ellington 26, 31;De Vos 54. Stags - Larkin 45, 54
CAUTIONS: Wigan - Jarrett 24 (unsporting behaviour), McCulloch 71 (unsporting behaviour). Stags - McKenzie 16 (foul on Jarrett); White 18 (dissent).
DISMISSAL: Stags - Sellars 24 (violent conduct); Watkiss 25 (dissent).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Kevin Pilkington.
Latest | August 2002