LEVER IS GLAD TO BE BACK IN ACTION
LEVER IS GLAD TO BE BACK IN ACTION
Eveing Post, 22 August 2002
Mansfield's new defender Mark Lever is determined to force his way into the starting line-up for the clash with Chesterfield on Saturday.
Lever, who only completed his first 90 minutes of the season yesterday, has signed from Bristol City on a one-year contract, with the option of a further year.
He made his debut in the reserves' 1-1 draw at Notts County yesterday.
And he believes he can make a claim for a first-team place in the big clash with the Spirerites.
He said: "I have only played for one hour during pre-season so it is going to take a bit of time, but the only way I am going to get better is to play games.
"If I have got to play now then that is the way it is."
Lever was transfer-listed by Danny Wilson at the end of last season and Stags boss Stuart Watkiss has brought him in to bolster a defence that has let in nine goals in the first three games of the season.
Although Stags have scored an equal number, the fact seven of those goals have come from set pieces has been a cause for concern.
Lever has been brought in to deal with such instances and becomes Watkiss's sixth signing since the Stags gained promotion to Division Two on the final day of last season.
The 32-year-old, who made more than 400 appearances for Grimsby Town in the First Division, is just glad to get the opportunity of first-team football again after a frustrating year at Ashton Gate.
He said: "I was on the periphery at Bristol and things weren't really going right for me down there.
"I'm just grateful for the chance to play and it is good to be moving back north again.
"I look to win headers and then bring other people into the game and I know there are a lot of good players here already.
"I felt a bit of an old stager out there and it got pretty hot, but it was just great to get back playing."
Shayne Bradley returned to action after missing the last four weeks with an ankle injury and he scored Mansfield's goal early on.
The Stags' next game in the Avon Insurance League will be at home to Hull City next Wednesday.
Lever set for baptism of fire
MARK Lever made a commanding debut in a Stags shirt yesterday - but warned fans not to think he is a quick-fix solution to the club's defensive frailties as the big local derby with Chesterfield looms.
Lever (32) has signed a one-year deal on a free transfer from Bristol City and, apart from showing his aerial dominance, set up an early goal for Shayne Bradle in the reserves' 1-1 draw at Notts County yesterday.
That was his first 90 minutes of the season and he now faces a baptism of fire in the all-ticket clash against Chesterfield at Field Mill on Saturday (11am).
"I thought the Notts game went very well for me," he said. "We had a lot of young players and it was a very hot day. It was my first 90 minutes after just an hour pre-season so I was blowing a gasket near the end but I still got through it. Games are what I need.
"I have heard Mansfield have been playing really well in games and defending well and then losing concentrtaion at set pieces. I am not saying I am going to defend every set piece well and I am not the club's surefire fix. But I will give it 100 per cent and do my very best.
"I hear this is a massive game for Mansfield on Satuday and, if selected I will give it my best. I think the adrenalin will get me through."
Lever had a lengthy spell out with a knee injury before finding himself listed in the summer.
"I have wanted to get back north for while as I still have a house in Grimsby and my parents live in Hull so this is ideal for me."
Manager Stuart Watkiss added: "Like Wayne Larkin, it has taken a little longer than we would have liked but we have finally got our man.
"Mark was on ur shpping list in the summer and we are delighted to get him in. He is the sort of player who will dominate centre forwards rather than let them dominate him.
"I thought he did well in the reserve game. He showed he is going to be a good asset and very prominant in both defending set pieces and attacking set pieces at the other end."
Bradley came through 90 minutes looking surprisingly sharp after injury and will be in Saturday's squad for the first time this season.
Iyseden Christie had a frustrating day, seeing Steve Mildenhall save his penalty late in the first half and missing two good late chances to win it.
But Watkiss added: "Iyseden was disappointed in himself but he still got himself in four or five good scoring positions and, if he keeps doing that, the goals will come for him."
Full backs Allen Tankard and Bobby Hassell have both had injections into their respective injuries and are ruled out of Saturday's game, leaving Watkiss again left with a back three
Neil Moore will play, despite surgery to remove a cyst from his back.
Supporters are reminded Saturday's game is all-ticket and none will be sold after 5pm on Friday.
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