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Archived News from May 2007

8th May 2007 15:01

Evening Post, 05 May 2007

Mansfield hope to be training at Welbeck Trust's new sports ground, near Warsop, next season.

The Stags have struggled to find regular training facilities for much of the last two league campaigns.

Both current manager Billy Dearden and predecessor Peter Shirtliff have gone on record saying it is an issue that needs addressing.

But Stags are hopeful of securing an agreement with Welbeck over the next few days.

"Our training facilities are more or less finalised for next season and we are going to go down to Welbeck for a meeting to go through things," said Dearden.

"There is a very good set-up and we will be very pleased to be associated with them.

"It will give the lads a base to report to rather than turning up for training at the ground and us not knowing where we will be from one day to the next."

With the season over after today's match at Bury, Dearden will also be stepping up his efforts to re-introduce a reserve side into league competition.

Dearden said: "I'm keen on bringing back our reserves into the Pontins League."

Evening Post, 05 May 2007

Billy Dearden (pictured below) hopes to reveal Mansfield's retained list on Tuesday.

The Stags boss has spent much of this week telling out-of-contract players who he wants to stay.

And he hopes to have finished that job early next week - even if he does not immediately get answers.

"Decisions are being made, so all the players should know where they stand by the middle of next week," said Dearden.

"Those lads who you make an offer are going to go away and think about it for a few days.

"There will be others who will, unfortunately, be leaving the club and we will then be looking to replace them.

"Ideally the new players would come in within the next three to fours weeks, but it doesn't always happen that way.

"Sometimes it is difficult to get players until they come back training in July, but I want the squad to start the season sorted by a couple of weeks after that at the latest."

It emerged this week Mansfield's ground capacity is to be cut by half to 4,684. Notts County Council cites poor stewarding and a lack of a pro-active approach to safety as reasons for their decision.

The move comes after complaints from fans about heavy-handed stewarding when Stags supporters ran on to the pitch after the final home game of the season against Barnet.

If Mansfield do not remedy the situation they would be unable to start the new season in August as the minimum capacity required by the Football League is 5,000.

Dearden has called on the club to resolve the matter quickly.

He said: "I didn't know about it until someone told me at the County Cup final on Wednesday night and it is disappointing.

"When we play Notts County, Rotherham and Chesterfield there are going to be more than 4,500 fans so we have to get something sorted as soon as possible."

Evening Post, 05 May 2007
Ashley Kitchen has come a long way in a very short space of time.

A few weeks ago the 18-year-old was playing out the closing stages of the season as captain of Mansfield's youth team.

Yet suddenly, because of a well-publicised catalogue of injuries, he has become an integral part of the senior side's back four.

Kitchen found out just 20 minutes before the Rochdale game he would be handed his debut at right-back because of an injury to Gareth Jelleyman in the warm-up.

The Edwinstowe-based player's performance against the Lancashire outfit was steady, if unspectacular, but was enough for him to retain his place at Swindon.

"I'm feeling good about things at the moment and it is going quite well for me," he said.

"I'm really enjoying it and learning more and more about the game at this level all the time.

"I am starting to gel in the right-back position. I think you have to be quick and powerful in the tackle and also be able to get forward.

"That is something I have to work on, having played as a central defender this season. I have played in midfield before which helps, but it is still new.

"The challenge is to get forward as much as you can but to do it at the right times because defending has to be your first priority."

Kitchen is well used to playing regular matches during the course of the season since joining the Stags a decade ago as an under-nine.

But he nevertheless feels the biggest difference between youth and first teams is the level of fitness and endurance.

Kitchen said: "I have found it tiring playing games in quick succession because of the pace of it and it is another level to step up in terms of fitness.

"But I feel I have done OK and now I am in the first team I don't want to drop back out of it.

"I think the fact I only knew just before the Rochdale game I was playing was a good thing in the end. I was nervous but didn't have too long to think about it.

"In the second game I felt a lot better and I have felt more and more comfortable as the games have gone by.

'The senior players have been really good to me, and so has Dutch (Paul Holland) and the gaffer (Billy Dearden).

"All I can do is to keep training hard and hope to stay in the team until the end of the season so I have played five games in a row."

Kitchen will end his two-year youth training scheme this summer and is then hoping to secure his first senior contract.

"I am hoping Mansfield will want to keep me and if they do I will be working hard in pre-season," said Kitchen.

"I have always been confident in my own ability but whether you are released or kept on is all about someone's opinion, but hopefully people here think well of me.

"It has been a good time for me to come into the team because it has given me the chance to impress as they are getting ready to make up their minds."

Kitchen tasted his maiden first team victory when the Stags beat Barnet 2-1 last Saturday which was followed by a 1-0 County Cup win on Wednesday night against Notts County.

Now the youngster is hoping Mansfield can make it a hat-trick of successes to end the season as they visit Bury this afternoon.

Kitchen said: "Before the Barnet game there was pressure on us to win and it was great for the fans we did.

"Along with making my debut, the 1-0 win over Notts County in midweek was one of the highlights of my career so far.

"They probably had a more experienced side out but we played quite well and got a good result.

"I know the Austin brothers (Rob and Matt) who were involved in the game for Notts and it will give me a chance to give then some stick when we next go out together!

"But the Bury game comes first and it would be nice for everyone connected with the club if we could finish with a win."

EVENING POST, 04 May 2007

Paul Holland today admitted it may be difficult for Mansfield to hold on to prize asset Alex John-Baptiste this summer.

The 21-year-old defender will have been an ever-present player in league and cup matches this season if he plays at Bury tomorrow.

John-Baptiste is out of contract in June and has been offered another by the management team at Field Mill.

But it is by no means certain the player will sign it, especially as there are bigger teams likely to want his signature.

"Bap has been immense towards the end of the season and has held the defence together at times," said Holland. "We would love to keep him and have offered him a new contract but it's down to Bap if he thinks it's time to go or if another year at Mansfield would benefit him.

"We have to let him weigh up his options, but we are still hoping he will be here in pre-season."

Holland feels the performances of John-Baptiste have helped develop another young player - Ashley Kitchen.

The 18-year-old youth team captain has impressed in Mansfield's last three games after making his debut against Rochdale following a late injury to Gareth Jelleyman.

Holland said: "Alex probably had the benefit of coming into a side with a bit more experience than Kitch has done, but he has stood up to it well.

"He has done better than we expected even though the situation has not been ideal and he has been playing out of position [at right-back]."
Mansfield hope to 'Bury' bad memories of season
CHAD website, 03 May 2007

AFTER securing League safety and then beating local rivals Notts County to win the Notts FA County Cup, Stags boss Billy Dearden urged his players to end an excellent week on a high note with victory at Bury tomorrow (Saturday, 3pm).
"This week has lifted some of the gloom from over the club and it would be nice to go out on a high on Saturday," said Dearden.

"Both sides are safe so should be able to relax and go out and enjoy the game.

"I would like to see us play a bit more football than we have played of late. But the pitch there will be very sandy and very difficult as they have rugby on it. So it won't be ideal for good football.

"Bury had a terrible run when they didn't win for about 16 games. But all of a sudden they picked up again and Chris Casper has done a very good job.

"We will not have anyone else back from injury so we just have to soldier on.

"It has been a hard graft with the injuries and the youngsters have come through with flying colours to make sure we stayed in the League.

"I would just like to end the season with a performance for our supporters now."


Latest | May 2007