Mansfield v Shrewsbury
Venue: Field Mill Date: Saturday 19 April Kick-off: 1500 BST
Shrewsbury's Kelvin Langmead (knee) isn't quite ready for a return. Colin Murdock and Darran Kempson will continue in the heart of the defence.
Striker James Constable is pressing for a start after scoring as a sub against Wrexham last time out.
Mansfield midfielder Matt Hamshaw wants Stags fans to get behind their team:
"I would like them to recreate the atmosphere from our FA Cup game against Middlesbrough in January.
"From minute one, the fans backed us and when Boro scored, they backed us again. That is what I want.
"I hope that for these two home games against Shrewsbury and Rotherham, everyone in "At the end of the day where we play is a reflection of the football club and a reflection of town as a whole - if they haven't got a club in the football league it is disappointing.
"This is a plea to get all the fans to come and back us the hilt on the next two Saturdays and get us out of this mess together."
CHAD VIDEO: Mansfield Town utility player's showdown with ex-club
STAGS defender Keith Briggs is all set for Mansfield Town's vital match against his old club Shrewsbury on Saturday.
Briggs, who has played in midfield and full back for the Stags since his switch to Field Mill at the start of the year, spoke to Chad on Thursday morning in an exclusive video interview here
Confident Mansfield Town boss Holland 'not even contemplating' the drop
CHAD.co.uk, 17Apr08, by John Lomas
As they try to pull off the Great Escape, Mansfield Town know it is possible, for the first time, their 77-year tenure in the Football League could come to an abrupt end this Saturday.
If Stags lost at home to Shrewsbury Town and other clubs around them won, they could be relegated.
But manager Paul Holland said: "To tell the truth I have not thought about it. I can't afford to think about that. If I think about it then it may go across to the players.
Full story at CHAD website here
"If we look after ourselves and get a positive result on Saturday then we can't go down. It's as simple as that.
"We have two massive games at home ahead. I have been trying to relax the players and get them to enjoy the week while working extremely hard to prepare for Saturday.
"The players have had a couple of days off to relax. They have just played four massive games and I thought the last 20 minutes against Stockport and Macclesfield they looked tired, physically and mentally.
"In our situation I think it is a mental thing rather than a physical thing. I spoke to people I respect in the game and they thought a couple of days off was a good idea.
"I am tired mentally, too. But you can't afford to let it get to you. I have not had a day off, preparing for Saturday. I have seen Shrewsbury and think I know how we can cause them problems and that is what we will be working on today and tomorrow."
Stags urgently need to turn decent performances into points after taking just one from their last two games.
"I seem to have the same interview after most of our gams recently – we have played well and not got what we deserved," he added.
"For our last three games I would love to be saying we have maybe got some points we haven't deserved!
"I am still very positive and I think there will still be twists and turns. But I am sure that when the last game at Dagenham is over we will all be celebrating.
"I think it is very important that our next two games are both at home. We have taken four points from our last two home games and that is the minimum requirement from the next two."
Saturday's opponents Shrewsbury pulled off their first win in 16 games last weekend which ended fears of being dragged down into the dogfight. They have not won away since 22nd December at Accrington, 11 away games back.
"Shrewsbury have struggled away of late," said Holland. "They did get a great result last weekend against Wrexham which made them safe. But we know, if we are right, this is a very winnable home game. I do fancy us big time."
Holland is hoping that safety for Stags will bring its own rewards for him as he eyes up the manager's job full time next season.
"I would not have taken this job if I didn't think we could get out of it and I still think we will," he said.
"I know if things go right then the preparations I have made for the summer and next season should see me stay as manager. I will be the man to do it. I wouldn't be doing all this for someone else to come in and take over to put my ideas into practice.
"If I keep them up I deserve a crack at it for a full season. It has not been easy coming in with 12 games left and everyone very down. It has been hard but I have loved every minute of it."
Mansfield Town hoping on injured Stags trio
CHAD.co.uk, 17Apr08, by John Lomas
STAGS are still hopeful that injured trio Carl Muggleton, Mickey Boulding and Gareth Jelleyman could be in contention for Saturday's crucial clash with Shrewsbury.
Muggleton has been nursing a badly bruised thumb but the keeper returned to training this morning and, if he comes through, will return to the squad.
What does the Stags Talk panel think of team's chances on Saturday? Click here to find out... --->
Leading scorer Boulding (knee injury) will spend today with physio Paul Madin and manager Paul Holland is hoping he will be back with the first team squad tomorrow.
Most confusing are the prospects of left back Jelleyman and his Achilles' tendon injury.
Full story at CHAD website here
Holland said on Monday that Jelleyman would be 50-50 and a last minute fitness test would probably be required.
But yesterday (Wednesday) the club firmly stated Jelleyman would not recover in time and ruled him out.
However, this morning, Holland said: "Gareth, like Mickey, is coming along better than hoped and, although it is still going to be touch and go, I am hoping he and Mickey may be back with me tomorrow."
If they are not 100 per cent fit, as neither of them were last Saturday when both limped off, Holland has a big decision to take whether or not to risk starting with them in such a big game.
He also has an option of starting the vastly experienced Kevin Horlock in central midfield.
"I am sure Kevin is now fit enough to start a game and experienced enough to get through it," said Holland. "But he is certainly not fully fit.
"I would like to get Kevin more involved these last three games.
"But he has been a great signing so far just for the way he has been off the field with the players – his experience has been invaluable."
Drop could ruin great Mansfield Town season for Mullins
JOHN Mullins admits what has been a decent season for him personally would turn into one to forget if the Stags are relegated.
The young defender has shone at both right back and centre half in a season in which he has matured into one of the club's most consistent performers.
But he said: "All I am concentrating on is staying up.
Full story at CHAD website here
"It is professional pride. It is all that is in my thoughts. We are all positive and believe we can pull off this 'Great Escape' as it's been dubbed.
"My performances have not been bad, though I always believe I can do better.
"I always give 100 per cent and if we stay up I will think I have had a half-decent season. But if we got relegated it wouldn't be one I would want to look back at. If we do stay up then maybe I will feel I have achieved something.
"The lads in the dressing room want to keep Mansfield Town up. This is a big town and we don't want to be a Conference side.
"We want to stay in the Football League. We keep talking about it but actions speak louder than words and we have to win on Saturday."
Mansfield Town secretary/finance manager resigns
THE club secretary/finance manager at Mansfield Town FC stepped down in a surprise resignation on Wednesday morning.
Sharon Roberts said: "It has been a difficult decision for me to make, but after 12 years in the football business I am ready to have some more 'me' time and to be able to decide for myself what I do at the weekends, i.e. not to be tied to working on Saturdays."
Full story at CHAD website here
Sharon, who joined Mansfield Town from Derby County just over two years ago, told manfieldtown.net: "A lot has happened in my personal life over the last 12 months that has made me re-evaluate what is important, and I feel that the time is right for me to spend more time with my friends and family and to not be 'unavailable' due to work committments.
"I would like to think that I have made a difference to the administration in my time here.
"I am pleased to have gained the experience that I have had in my position and to have met the people that I have during this time.
"I wish theclub, staff and supporters all the very best for the future and I will always be looking out for the results."
Stags chief executive Stephen Booth said: "I was very disappointed to learn that Sharon has decided to resign . . . but I totally concur with her reasons and, from personal experience, readily accept that there is more to life than work - and that getting the correct work/life balance is essential.
"I would like to state that in my brief time with the club Sharon's enthusiasm, professionalism and committment has been of the highest order and she will be sadly missed.
"We will now be actively seeking a replacement for Sharon, who will not be leaving until the end of May.
"Finally I would like on behalf of the club, its staff and supporters to wish Sharon and her husband Paul all the best for the future and hope we will continue to see them at Field Mill next season."
Set pieces the weak link that could sink Mansfield
Football Post, 18Apr08, by Matt Halfpenny
The importance of set pieces has long been recognised by football managers across the globe.
And with the number of goals that fly in as a result of them, that is hardly a surprise.
But there are those who believe it is even more important in the cut-throat world of League Two, where the skill levels to score spectacular goals from open play are not as developed as they are in the higher divisions.
In the Football League's basement division, attacking and defending well from set pieces, together with decent organisation, can often make up for technical deficiencies.
It is a pity then, that Mansfield's record is so poor. Without doubt, it is one of the major reasons they have struggled so badly this season.
Of the 64 goals they have conceded this season a significant number, 18 - more than a quarter - have come from free-kicks and corners.
The Stags have also conceded a further six from penalty kicks.
Contrast that with set plays from an attacking perspective. Goals scored from the same methods are genuinely rare from a Stags point of view with just ten of 45 goals netted coming from set plays.
Mansfield have managed a further four more from the penalty spot but have also missed two spot kicks too.
This area has remained a genuine point of concern all season and a source of frustration, particularly defensively, for Billy Dearden and his successor Paul Holland.
But there is only so much that can be done on the training ground to combat the threat. The rest is down to other factors.
One thing they were probably banking on is for Martin McIntosh to play a lot more than he has.
The Scottish defender has already been released by the club after spending most of the season out with injuries.
Yet when he came to the club in the summer, the experienced veteran was seen as one of the club's major signings and someone who would offer valuable height and expertise.
However, his absence has meant that the Stags back line has often be led by smaller stoppers, who have found it much harder to compete in the air.
Although Alex John-Baptiste, Gareth Jelleyman and Jake Buxton - who have all played a significant amount of games in the middle of the back four - are recognised defenders, they are all relatively short in stature.
McIntosh also had a reputation as being a handful at the other end of the pitch, chipping in with useful headed goals.
But with him sidelined, those that have stepped in have seldom got their names on the scoresheet. Buxton has scored twice as has Johnny Mullins, but neither Jelleyman nor John-Baptsite, who has missed a decent chunk of the season, have failed to get off the mark.
Another problem has been lapses in concentration and individual errors that have led to a number of the goals.
Free headers - such as the ones that allowed Paul Scott to give Bury the lead at Gigg Lane and the one that saw Jim Bentley do the same for Morecambe at Field Mill - have been fairly commonplace.
At the other end of the pitch, that trait has not been reproduced by the teams Mansfield have played.
Quite often, the Stags have peppered their opponents with free-kicks and corners but have failed to find a way through.
It was certainly the case against Dagenham at home, at Hereford and at home to Morecambe. But, on each occasion, the opposing team stood firm and Mansfield lost those games.
Failure to clear their lines has also cost the team dearly on occasions. Darlington took the lead in the north-east in a game the Stags eventually won as Neil Austin converted after the Stags had not taken the chance to get rid.
And so it was when Gary Jones scored the second of his two strikes in a 4-0 hammering of the Stags by Rochdale that led to Dearden's sacking immediately after the game.
There are few instances of Mansfield capitalising in the same way, with Lee Bell's cracker against Morecambe and Stephen Dawson's equally spectacular strike against Chesterfield - both at Field Mill - are the only examples that readily spring to mind.
Perhaps the most frustrating source of goals for fans and management alike is the number yielded direct from free kicks.
Adam Birchall scored a tap-in after Jason Puncheon had hit the post for Barnet; Clint Easton scored directly for Hereford; Michael Proctor powered home for Wrexham; Kevin O'Connor curled in for Brentford; Keith Andrews netted fortuitously for MK Dons.
While some of these strikes were unstoppable, Mansfield have often given away the free kicks that led to them far too easily.
From an offensive point of view, Martin McIntosh hammered in from 25 yards against Stockport and Lee Bell's deflected shot gave Simon Brown an easy opportunity.
But other teams have not had the same problems defending direct free kicks, perhaps partly because they have not conceded as many in and around the box.
Worryingly for the Stags, things seem to have become worse rather than better since the Christmas period.
Up until then, only four of the goals conceded came from set pieces.
But since the turn of the year, 14 goals - a huge slice of those conceded - have resulted directly or indirectly from free-kicks and corners.
On the credit side, though, things have gone slightly downhill, with four goals scored, rather than the six before the Festive period.
Of course, with two games to go after today's clash with Shrewsbury, it is a little too late to rectify the situation this season.
Depending on the result against the Shrews this afternoon - and Dagenham's game at Rotherham - Mansfield could conceivably be relegated by the time this article hits the news stands.
However, if things go their favour, it could go down to the game with Daggers in London.
Either way, and regardless of what division the Yellows are playing their football next season, set pieces should be one of their priorities.
Only if those problems that have dogged Mansfield this season are remedied can they hope for a greater degree of success in 2008-2009.
Because as well as they do in open play, if they cannot get it right when the ball is dead, their efforts will inevitably come to little.
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