NEIL RICHARDSON REACTION
STAGS WIN AT LAST
Evening Post, 18 September 2002
Stags assistant manager Neil Richardson breathed a sigh of relief after Mansfield Town managed to end their eight-match winless run with a 3-2 victory at Luton Town.
Goals from Liam Lawrence, Scott Sellars and Iyseden Christie were enough to seal the points, although Steve Howard and Kevin Nicholls hit back in the last five minutes to set up a tense finish.
Richardson praised the whole team for their effort and commitment and hopes they will now push on after a disappointing start to the club's first season in Division Two for ten years, which culminated in Saturday's 6-1 thumping at Oldham.
He said: "We fought like mad. They defended brilliantly and worked their socks off.
"Luton coach Mick Harford said afterwards that we murdered them and I think, apart from the last couple of minutes, that was fair.
"They came in on Sunday, we had our say and they had theirs.
PRESSURE EASED BY BATTLING WIN
Evening Post, 18 September 2002
Luton Town 2 v 3 Mansfield Town
No away game can be looked forward to much when you have just lost 6-1 only three days before. But I am sure I was not the only person to have a sneaky feeling that a trip to Luton Town would be the ideal opportunity for Stags to get back on track.
Anyone would fancy themselves to win comprehensively against a team that had conceded 15 goals in the last three games.
But those shouts of "We'll never play you again" that greeted their promotion party the last time Stags were in town, were surprisingly absent when Iyseden Christie left them three goals down in the 50th minute.
On Monday, Stags boss Stuart Watkiss said he thought the game would be interesting if Mansfield scored first.
But they did more than that in gaining their first away win since the 4-1 success at Lincoln in February.
It took the Hatters half an hour to show any sort of rhythm at all and by that time they were two goals down, waking their fans from their incessant and tiring berating of Watford, sparked by their Worthington Cup victory last week, into showing the same disdain for the players representing their club.
In the main, Stags played with the authority that we have all been craving over the last few weeks.
Noticeable differences were the fact there was no reluctance to whack the ball out of danger, probably much to the annoyance of those occupying the low level executive boxes and they tried to do the simple things well.
Consequently they profited from what was a good all-round team display but some contributors have to be singled out.
Sellars was inspirational and his presence and advice, even if it was just to calm things down, was a vital ingredient to success.
So was Mark Lever at the heart of the defence. For the first time this season, an opposing centre-forward really knew he had been in a game and Steve Howard's selection as man of the match was a puzzling choice because he missed a hatful.
There was plenty of all-hands-on-deck defending. But that camaraderie and downright stubbornness prevented Luton from penetrating, until the last five minutes, which gave everyone in the Stags camp a bit of a scare.
Inevitably, the fact Stags conceded two goals in the closing minutes will attract a lot of attention from those happy to jump on the goals-conceded bandwagon.
It was a sweat that could have been avoided if Craig Disley had netted one of his two one-on-ones. But just getting on the bus back to Mansfield with three points in the bag will hopefully give the team no end of confidence.
And it could come at no better time to build on this success with games against Cheltenham, Northampton, Tranmere, Peterborough and Swindon in the next bank of fixtures.
But last night's win demonstrated that Stags can hold onto a win and play penetrative football.
They certainly created enough chances and, if you can do that, there is always a chance to take points.
Of course, one game doesn't make a season and the cynical will point to the fact that Stags' two victories have come against their fellow promotees.
But it just provides that little lift at the right time. If the players carry on responding in the manner they did last night, they are not going to have any problems.
The problems arise when you put in a good performance, like against Stockport and Derby, and then follow it up with a no-show. If that happens, Cheltenham will only be too happy to take the points off them.
But there has been enough talk about warnings and problems over the last few weeks. They are back in the hunt and the fact they collected three points on their travels should be enough to keep us going for the rest of the week, even if they did make hard work of it in the end. Three points is three points and that will do everyone.
Scott Sellars talks about last night
"The three points was obviously the important thing, but we put in a good performance as well."
"After Saturday we all sat down and had a chat and told a few home truths. The players all understood the situation and we knew that it was time that we did something about it."
"Leve's and myself have got plenty of experience, you can't give that to the young lads they can only gain it. Whilst we can't run around like them, we can settle us down."
"The back four were solid all night, the lads in midfield didn't stop all night and Iyseden worked his socks off up front and made my job very easy. Pilks was again superb in goal."
Full story at Mansfieldtown.net
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