… and Evening Post report
STUART PRAISES TEN-MAN STAGS
BY IAN WILKERSON
Evening Post, 11 September 2002
Mansfield boss Stuart Watkiss said he was proud of the effort his players made as they went down 3-1 to First Division Derby in the Worthington Cup last night.
The Stags played nearly 89 minutes with ten men after skipper Lee Williamson was sent off for an early two-footed challenge on Adam Bolder but took the lead with a Neil Moore goal in the eighth minute.
However, Lee Morris netted a quick reply and second half goals form Malcolm Christie and Ian Evatt proved enough to tip the tie in Ram"s favour.
"From a team point of view, I am very pleased. We kept our shape and discipline and they kept in line with their orders.
"We let Derby have the ball in their own half and we just got behind the ball and, in all honesty, they didn"t create that much.
"Obviously, we had to change it when we let in the second because we had to try and get back into the cup tie."
"A 3-1 result is again a harsh scoreline but we had to chase it a little bit.
"I have told them, if they show that sort of discipline and professionalism on Saturday, then we will definitely start picking points up in the league.
"They can take a lot of pride because the effort and the commitment was clear to everyone.
"Hopefully that will be the turning point. We said we needed something to kick-start us.
"We saw off what they had to throw at us and we haven"t really had to make that many saves.
"If we can play with that shape and not panic when the opposition have got the ball on Saturday and in the future, then it has been worthwhile.
"The lads showed a bit of steel that has been lacking in the last three or four matches.
"If you are a football fan, you want to see your team roll their sleeves up and have a go. Anyone could look at them and say they did their best last night.
"We will put up with the mistakes as long as they put in 100%.
"I have got a bunch of honest lads. They know they let themselves down against Crewe, they were disappointing against Chesterfield, but that wasn"t down to a lack of effort but the effort was there on Saturday and that is why the crowd stayed and clapped them off and they did the same last night.
"If everyone does that, combined with the talent they have got, then we will be a good team."
He questioned Williamson"s dismissal, although he admitted it was a two-footed challenge.
He will now be without his captain for three games and the fact Andy White picked up a thigh strain has added to Stags" injury worries ahead of Saturday"s visit to Oldham Athletic.
Watkiss said: "I was disappointed. He did go in two-footed and he took the ball and in a local derby in a big cup game, I don"t think he has to produce the red in the first minute."
BATTLING DISPLAY IS JUST THE TONIC
Evening Post, 11 September 2002
Mansfield Town 1 v 3 Derby County
When the final of the Worthington Cup is eventually played at the Millennium Stadium, the season will be almost over and Mansfield Town will be well aware of what the climax of this campaign has in store for them.
In looking back at this particular match, it can be viewed in a number of respects.
There will be a danger in seeing this match as a game apart, one that went against the grain.
Not in terms of the results that have gone before, obviously, as their record so far does make particularly disappointing reading.
But Stags did demonstrate they can play well against players the quality of which they are unlikely to encounter for the rest of the campaign.
Hopefully, the fight and determination Stuart Watkiss's side expressed in last night's defeat against a side that started the year playing in the Premiership, will not turn out to be a one-off.
In battling for 88-and-a-half minutes with ten men and putting in a display equal only to their solitary win of the season, they showed just the sort of qualities that would leave their start to the season filed under blip.
When a game involves a sending-off, it can usually be seen as a turning point. But, when it occurs in the first 90 seconds, neither side has got into a rhythm and the game hasn't sorted itself out.
Lee Williamson's tackle was reckless and, whether he won the ball or not, it should not come as a surprise that a red card is brandished.
It will provide a valuable lesson for the young Stags captain.
But the real twist arrived when Neil Moore smashed Mansfield into the lead. What was then in question was how long it would take Derby to force their way back into the game - and the answer was about two minutes.
As soon as the "you're not singing anymore" chant goes up, you know you are in trouble.
But Stags gained a great deal of credit for sticking it out until the 71st minute, when Malcolm Christie demonstrated with a cool finish why he would be seven million quid well spent by any Premiership club.
The third goal was the result of Stags going for it and a bit of bad luck and the fact both goals had quickly followed a good shout for a penalty, after Iyseden Christie looked to have been up-ended by Chris Riggott, made the disappointment even harder to take.
The simplest conclusion to draw would be that, if Stags can show the same fighting spirit, determination and hard work, then they will not be in danger of making a swift return to the Nationwide League basement.
However, everyone needs to see those same qualities when, perhaps, the atmosphere is less charged, particularly away from Field Mill.
They possess enough talent to successfully negotiate this particular predicament and, although the result was obviously negative and there were times when Derby could have taken more of their chances, there will be plenty of confidence gained from this particular display.
They were cheered off the pitch, just as they had been on Saturday, demonstrating that the supporters will be sympathetic to the cause as long as the players show this never-say-die spirit for the rest of the season.
It was a one-off and, after all, Georgi Kinkladze reportedly earns more in a week than most of the Stags squad do in a year.
A victory wasn't expected but a performance to be proud of was and, in that respect, I don't suppose there were many Stags fans who went home disappointed.
And - by the time the place in the UEFA Cup is fought over by whichever Premiership team decides to take the Worthington Cup seriously - the Stags will be comfortable if this is going to be the norm.
Latest | September 2002