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Archived News from May 2007

8th May 2007 15:06

Evening Post, 07 May 2007

Stephen Dawson would love to sign a contract to stay with Mansfield next season - but admits he may have to leave if he is not offered the right deal.

The Irishman flies home to be with his family on Saturday and is determined to resolve his future by then.

Midfielder Dawson, 21, has now completed his second season with Mansfield after joining from Leicester City when Carlton Palmer was boss.

He feels he has developed enough during his time at Field Mill to secure an improved deal and is likely to learn his fate tomorrow.

"I have not had an offer yet but I'm just hoping everything goes well," said Dawson.

"They know I want to stay and play for Mansfield but if the offer is not right then I may have to look elsewhere.

"I am not asking for a stupid contract, just a decent one, because I do feel I have established myself as a senior first-team player.

"The first year I was here I was in and out of the team but I have made more of a contribution this season, although I know I need to score more goals."

Jason White joined the long list of Mansfield players carrying an injury when he was unable to start the game with a groin injury.

Dawson is looking forward to his team-mates regaining fitness over the summer and coming back strongly for pre-season.

He said: "Everyone is looking forward to having a few weeks break now and then coming back fully fit.

"It has not been an easy time for the staff or the players because of the number of injuries we have had at the same time.

"Overall, we have let ourselves down as a team, but at least everyone should be back and ready to go again by the start of next season."

Evening Post, 07 May 2007

Paul Holland reckons Mansfield will attract the players needed to make them a success next season - despite their off-the-field troubles.

The 2006-2007 season has seen protests against owner Keith Haslam, problems over training facilities and, in the past week, the capacity of Field Mill cut by half.

But assistant boss Holland reckons he and manager Billy Dearden, who opted to miss the 1-1 draw at Bury and go on a scouting trip, will still bring in some quality footballers.

"I think Mansfield have a reputation of being a good club and playing their football in the right way," he said.

"We have lots of phone calls and letters from players every day asking to play for us. It's just a matter of identifying the right personnel and trying to get them in."

Mansfield took the lead at Gigg Lane through Alex John-Baptiste's header before Tom Youngs levelled in the second half.

Evening Post, 07 May 2007

Holland was satisfied with the efforts of the players on Saturday, although he admitted it was one game where the result did not matter.

He said: "I told the lads to go out and enjoy themselves because there are not many games when you are not under pressure.

"The result wasn't important. It would have been nice to get the three points, but it wasn't to be.

"It was probably a fair result."

Holland also paid tribute to the loyal band of Mansfield supporters who have backed them up and down the country all season.

He said: "The fans have been brilliant. At a difficult time for the club they have backed us.

"It was nice to see them enjoying it in their outfits, but hopefully we can come to places like this next season and get the three points rather than just one."

Evening Post, 07 May 2007

Carl Muggleton explained a bizarre accident had handed him a last-minute start in the final game of the season at Bury.

Jason White was down on the teamsheet to start in goal against the Shakers, but he injured his groin when his studs slipped on concrete as he walked towards the tunnel from the dressing room. "Jason was just coming out for the warm up and he was fine but it is a long walk to the tunnel and he has slipped and hurt his groin," said Muggleton.

"He told me what had happened and I just told him to take it easy to try to work through it.

"But he was really struggling and that's when we called (physio) Paul Madin across to have a look at him and he said he wouldn't be able to start.

"I then just got hold of Danny Sleath and got him to warm me up because I knew I would be playing."

Muggleton made a couple of decent saves, particularly one from ex-Chesterfield striker Glynn Hurst, but was disappointed with the goal Mansfield conceded.

He said: "It is never easy when you haven't really played for a while, although I did get a run-out against Notts County in the County Cup.

"But you have to rely on your experience to get you through and in the end I thought I did ok.

"I had the header that led to their goal in my hand, but one of our lads in trying to clear it kicked it out of my hands.

"I then tried to clear it and it hit someone and then their lad has stuck it in. It was a scrappy goal to concede and disappointing not to keep a clean sheet.

"We should have held onto our lead but if we'd have come here earlier in the season and got a draw then we would probably have been happy with it."

Evening Post, 07 May 2007

It was by no means a definitive goodbye, but Alex John-Baptiste's actions after the final whistle at Gigg Lane suggest his Mansfield career may be over.

In a similar vein to when Richard Barker shook hands with supporters after what turned out to be his final Stags match against future employers Hartlepool in January, the 21-year-old turned to the club's loyal followers to salute them.

Along with the rest of the Mansfield team, John-Baptiste applauded the fans for their backing before running forward to throw his shirt into the crowd.

It was a simple gesture appreciated by the Stags faithful, who have seen their hero develop from promising teenager to first name on the teamsheet.

But it could, sadly, be the last time they see the central defender in the amber and blue of Mansfield.

John-Baptiste has already been offered a new contract by Stags boss Billy Dearden and is considering his options before committing himself one way or the other.

If John-Baptiste's appearance at Bury was his swansong after being an ever-present through the campaign, then at least he has gone out in style. Not only did he show just why he is held in such high esteem by his team-mates, the management and the supporters alike with a typically composed display, he also, fittingly, scored the club's final goal of their League Two season.

On another day it might have been enough to secure the Stags victory, but their old Achilles heel, set pieces, once again put paid to any such hopes.

Even so, a draw represented a decent return and made it a positive end to the season coming, as it did, after victory against Barnet and in the County Cup final against Notts County.

In any case, no one really cared too much about the result. After their respective recent struggles, both sides were just happy the game was meaningless in terms of relegation issues.

One of the biggest surprises was to see Paul Holland, in charge with Billy Dearden opting to go elsewhere on scouting duty, poised to name an unchanged side.

But, true to form with the recent spate of injuries, they were forced into one alteration before kick-off as Jason White sustained a groin injury in the warm-up.

He was replaced by Carl Muggleton, who had very little to do in a first half where the Stags played some of their best football in weeks.

Following a Bury corner, Mansfield had an early opportunity to grab the initiative as Simon Brown sent Nathan Arnold clear.

Unfortunately for the teenager he failed to make contact with the ball as he shaped to shoot and the moment was gone.

But there were other chances too. Michael Boulding shot past the angle of post and bar when well placed and Shakers keeper Andy Warrington twice came to the home team's rescue with excellent saves. First he pushed away a well-struck angled drive from Boulding and then, just a few seconds later, he scurried across and dived full length to keep out Johnny Mullins' curler that was heading for the top corner.

Jon-Olav Hjelde - in his final game for the Stags and in English football before returning to his native Norway - might also have done better when he headed a right-wing corner straight into the arms of Warrington.

But the breakthrough was not long in coming.

Nathan Arnold's curling, 25th minute left-wing free-kick was inviting and John-Baptiste did not need asking twice, powering a header goalwards which Warrington got fingertips to but couldn't keep out.

Bury rarely threatened and only once, in the 39th minute, did they look like getting back on terms in the first half when William Mocquet's overhead kick flew just over the top from Darran Kempson's knock down.

However, it was a different story after the break as the Shakers drew level within three minutes from a left-wing corner.

Glynn Hurst's header was saved by Muggleton but he could not hold the ball as nearby players scrambled to get a touch and it was eventually forced over the line from point-blank range by Tom Youngs.

That seemed to knock back Mansfield, who had looked confident up until then, and it needed a smart save by Muggleton from Hurst soon after to maintain the parity.

But even the disappointment of the equaliser could not dampen the spirits of the Stags fans, many in fancy dress, as they formed a conga in the aisles to party away the last few minutes.

Their relaxed mood was mirrored on the pitch in the latter stages with hardly a moment of real incident as both teams blooded youngsters from the bench.

Mansfield chose to give a run out to Lewis Trimmer and Jamie McGhee, two players who showed flashed of promise in the midweek County Cup final triumph at Notts County.

The draw gained meant the Stags finished the season on exactly the same points total as last year, 54, but finished one place lower in 17th.

But as Holland reiterated, scrapping to stay in the league is not good enough. If Mansfield are to reinvigorate interest in them, a season in the top half of the table is what is required - whether or not the talismanic John-Baptiste is at Field Mill.



Latest | May 2007