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Archived News from September 2002

9th September 2002 14:16

Evening Post, 09 September 2002

Mansfield Town's assistant manager Neil Richardson today called on the club's players to get back to doing what they do best.

Stags slumped to their fourth defeat on the bounce, a run that has seen them concede 13 goals without reply.

Richardson said the introduction of left-back Peter Clark, on loan from Stockport for three months, and centre-half Damien Delaney, who is being hired from Leicester for a month, helped but the Stags still conceded sloppy goals.

Paul Furlong put Rangers in front after six minutes and Danny Shittu nodded home a free header three minutes into the second half.

Goals from Kevin Gallen and substitute Andy Thomson completed the 4-0 win that did not reflect the improvement in Mansfield's performance.

Richardson said that seeing Iyseden Christie hitting a post with 15 minutes left, when the score was 2-0, summed up the Stags' fortunes.

"In general play, I thought we were a lot better. The new signings made a bit of a difference and we were a lot more comfortable playing 4-4-2.

"But the problem was we gave away early goals in both halves and you just cannot do that against sides of this sort of quality.

"In the first half, I thought we were the better side but the second goal was a real killer. They break and get the third and it is all over and then they got another one right at the death.

"But at 2-0, Iyseden hits the post and, if that went in, we would have had a great chance of getting something from the game.

"We could do with a bit of luck but some people would say you have to make your own luck but, at the moment, it just seems all our mistakes are getting punished."

Richardson believes Stags have to stick to what they know to fight their way back up the Division Two table.

He believes tomorrow's Worthington Cup clash with Derby County will give them the perfect opportunity to do that.

He said: "We have just got to get back to what we are good at, namely passing the ball and playing at a good tempo and tomorrow's game is the perfect opportunity for us to do that.

"We have got absolutely nothing to lose and everyone will relish the chance of playing a team that has just come out of the Premiership."

Evening Post, 09 September 2002

Mansfield Town 0 v 4 QPR

On the back of a 5-0 home drubbing, the one consolation that can be had is that it cannot really get any worse.

Last week's thrashing by Crewe put life in Division Two into perspective for a lot of people of the amber-and-blue persuasion and the enormity of the task facing Stuart Watkiss's side was further illustrated by QPR on Saturday.

Seven days earlier, the scoreline told its own story and it could have been 15. But even the most ardent of Hoops followers, who seemed annoyed at the fact that such a sleeping giant (their words, not mine) had to suffer the indignity of playing at such a northern hell-hole, would have said Stags were hard done by to suffer a four-goal reverse.

The game followed a familiar pattern to a lot of the action Stags have been involved in so far this campaign.

The difference in divisions is invariably summed up in the quality of the strikers on show.

While only the odd centre forward at Field Mill impressed last season, almost every one the Stags have faced during this campaign has.

No longer are they hustling with the big old-fashioned number nine that almost every team in Division Three seemingly possesses.

On Saturday they had to contend with Paul Furlong, who, not so long ago, was the subject of a £2.3m transfer.

It wouldn't buy you Rio Ferdinand's big toe now but it was a lot of money back in the early 90s.

He was partnered by Kevin Gallen who, at the same time, was partnering Robbie Fowler in the England Youth team and was tipped for a bright future.

These are the sorts of forwards Stags are coming up again and it is proving a real education.

Then there was the old problem of defending set-pieces, highlighted by Danny Shittu's second goal, when he became not the first and, unless something drastic occurs, not the last big central defender who will be handed the freedom of the Mansfield Town penalty area.

It was all just so familiar. The early goal caught Stags napping and then they produced a plucky display for the remainder of the first half.

It was an entertaining encounter with both goalkeepers excelling and the fact Stags didn't roll over and let QPR tickle their belly in the same way as they had the previous week rallied the crowd.

The second goal was a kick in the teeth but Stags still refused to give up.

Iyseden Christie hit the post with 15 minutes left and, had that gone in, they would have had a different game on their hands.

But, instead, Gallen knocked in a neat goal that had class written all over it and the fourth was a result of Stags burying their heads and feeling sorry for themselves.

Two goals in the last five minutes gave the scoreline a rather flattering look but after the initial helplessness subsides, there are positives to take - like the reappearance of Bobby Hassell and the imperious display of Damien Delaney at the heart of the defence.

Delaney's distribution was excellent and he won virtually all his aerial challenges.

It was just a shame it wasn't his job to pick Shittu up at that corner because it could have changed the game.

With 22 goals conceded this season, with 13 coming in the last four games, and six hours without a goal, the statistics do make depressing reading. But the support was excellent from a home crowd that was only 200 down on the previous week.

They recognised the effort the players were putting in, which could not have been faulted.

What is becoming increasingly clear to us all is that it will take a real effort to climb back up the table but, then, it is still early days.

Many more efforts like this and Stags will gain their rewards.

It is just a shame many will not look beyond the scoreline and believe the Stags have blown their chances of staying up.

But there was plenty of cause for optimism and tomorrow they play Derby, a team with their own problems.

A spirited display could be just what is needed to bring a little bit of confidence and good luck beause, on Saturday's evidence, it will get better in time.


Latest | September 2002