HOLDSWORTH. CLARE AND GARY AND PHILLIPS REACTION
David Holdsworth reaction from BBC Radio Nottingham and Gary Phillips reaction from BBC Essex here
David Holdsworth video interview from Stagsworld freeview here
Daryl Clare video interview from Stagsworld freeview here
Andy Saunders video interview on O'Connor shutout plus Gary Phillips from yourthurrock.com here
StagsWorld Sunday Supplement, as Nathan Arnold joins Mark Stevenson here
Daryl Clare does his bit for Comic Relief but it was no joke for the Stags at Grays.
Holdsworth slams late Stags lapses - Clare's 'bitter-sweet pill'
By John Lomas
STAGS boss David Holdsworth refused to defend his side after a lack of concentration saw them allow struggling Grays to come from behind and win 2-1 with two late goals at the New Recreation ground on Saturday afternoon.
Goal ace Daryl Clare scored within six minutes of making his Stags debut as a substitute.
But a day which began with Grays banning their former striker Aaron O'Connor from the ground, ended in misery as Jamie Slabber levelled and then Andy Pugh signed off from his loan spell from Gillingham with a winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
"That was down to concentration," said a furious Holdsworth.
"We stopped doing what we are good at and that's not good enough.
"When the ball goes wide you latch onto your man – but we didn't do that.
"It is that attention to detail later on that was missing. It has been a long day and a long journey down but I am not putting it down to fatigue.
"They are good players but today they looked ordinary players.
"I usually stand up for my players but I can't defend them today. We win together and we lose together. But I won't put up with those little things that were creeping in today.
"You have to stop those first balls coming in but we struggled in the full back areas today. Gary Silk and Paul Mayo have been magnificent for us but this wasn't their day and I will take it as just a blip.
"It was a horrible first half. They didn't want to play football on a dog of a pitch though they are fighting for their lives and you have to respect that.
"I was pleased for Daryl to score on his debut. It was a great finish. But then the wheels fell off.
"You have to evaluate it and I have not been in there screaming. They have to learn from this.
"If that is a reflection on my players that they have dropped their guard then they need to pick it up and quickly.
"I will maintain my high standards and if players don't do that then they won't be with us.
With striker Aaron O'Connor refused entry to his old club, even though there was an agreement honoured between the clubs that he wouldn't play, Holdsworth added: "I wasn't made aware of any difficulty regarding Aaron.
"So I was surprised to be met by their chairman. But I did the professional thing and don't want to say much more about it – it's been a difficult day.
"We conduct ourselves in the right manner at our club.
"It did give us a bit of an incentive, but that's by the by now. To be one up and not shut the game down is not acceptable."
Striker Clare added: "It was a bitter-sweet pill for me today. It was brilliant to score so quickly but it was then uncharacteristic to concede two goals late on – the defence has been so strong of late.
"Luckily me and Louis Briscoe were subs so I was able to give him a bit of a pep talk and I said keep putting the ball into the box and one will drop.
"I like to keep my reputation intact and prove people wrong as people do criticise you.
"I want to go on a scoring run now and hope I can get into the side.
"The end of the season is going to come too soon for me but I will spend the summer training. I have just had three months off and I have really missed my football and it's been disappointing for me.
"I will just make the most of the rest of this season now, score as many as I can and hopefully be part of what is looking like a successful group of players next season."
Grays chairman Mick Woodward declined to comment after the match on his decision to ban Stags striker Aaron O'Connor from the ground.
Stags boss Holdsworth warns: I won't accept second best
DAVID Holdsworth today sounded a warning to Mansfield Town's players that they cannot afford to slacken off again if they want to be at Field Mill next season.
The Stags boss was angry at his side's defending as they let slip a 1-0 lead in the final minutes to lose 2-1.
On many occasions the team has come in for praise from Holdsworth for their solidity that had previously brought eight clean sheets in 11 games.
But this time he felt they warranted severe criticism for switching off.
"I didn't go in after the game screaming and we don't have to spit the dummy out when things don't go our way," said Holdsworth.
"But we have to learn from it and the bigger picture is that if that is a reflection of players dropping their guard then they have to pick it up very quickly.
"It's simple – if the players don't deliver, then they won't be with me.
"We stopped doing what we are good at and it is not good enough.
"I have to defend my players when it's right, but the attention to detail wasn't there this time.
"We win and lose together, but I won't put up with those little things creeping in."
Holdsworth was particularly unhappy with the performance of the team in wide areas.
Both Grays goals came from balls played in from the flanks – something that he believes caught out the Stags all day.
Holdsworth said: "We have to stop the first ball in and we didn't do it.
"We struggled in the full-back areas, even though Gary Silk and Paul Mayo have been excellent, so you put it down to a blip.
"But it isn't just the full-backs, you have to work hard as a team. They got the opportunities to put crosses in and we didn't defend them.
"I'm not used to taking that and I have explained that to the players. It's not what we're about."
Mansfield chairman Andy Perry has confirmed he will be writing to the Football Conference and FA over Grays' refusal to allow Aaron O'Connor entry to their New Recreation Ground.
The transfer of the striker between the two clubs sparked an FA inquiry earlier in the season, but the Stags were cleared on any wrongdoing.
Holdsworth said: "I was surprised by it and I wasn't made aware of any likely difficulties from him being there.
"We will always conduct ourselves in a professional manner.
"It is by the by and if anything it gave us an incentive to go and win the game.
"But we shot ourselves in the foot. We were 1-0 up and we didn't shut the game down."
Stags sharpshooter Clare will only get better
DARYL Clare says he is unlikely to be fit enough to start Mansfield Town's game with promotion-chasing Torquay on Saturday – despite scoring on his debut at Grays.
The predatory striker got his first taste of senior action for the Stags as a second half substitute and took just six minutes to open his account.
But after not playing for 12 weeks at previous club Rushden and Diamonds, Clare is still bidding to get back to full fitness.
And while feeling he is getting sharper all the time, he feels a full 90 minutes may still be beyond him by the time the Gulls visit Field Mill.
"I think I am still miles off full fitness, to be honest," said Clare. "You always need three or four games to get where you want to be.
"I am looking at getting four or five games in at the season's end – it's a shame it's ending.
"But hopefully I have proved that whatever fitness I do reach can carry me through and I can still find the back of the net.
"Despite this result we still have a very strong squad and I would never expect to force my way into the first team straight away. I am just looking to put myself in contention."
Clare was delighted with his strike – a close range finish from Louis Briscoe's cross – if disappointed by the 2-1 defeat.
He said: "It was a little bit of a bittersweet feeling. I was delighted to get on in a first team game and to score was brilliant.
"But it was uncharacteristic of us to then concede two goals because we have been magnificent at the back of late.
"For the goal, luckily enough Louis and I had both come on as substitutes together so we could have a pep talk. I told him to be direct, use his pace and power and keep putting the ball in the box and one would drop – and it went to plan."
Grays bar Stags' O'Connor
Mansfield's Aaron O'Connor was astonishingly barred from the ground by former club Grays Athletic this afternoon.
The directive is said to have come from Grays' chairman Mick Woodward.
He is thought to have taken the stance in protest at the way O'Connor's transfer between the two clubs last summer was conducted.
The deal was the subject of an FA inquiry but Mansfield were cleared of any wrongdoing earlier this year.
The Stags anticipated no hard feelings at the Recreation Ground so were amazed to find a less than hospitable welcome for O'Connor.
"I find it disappointing," said chairman Andy Perry. "It seems to me it's nothing to do with football.
"Mansfield Town would never lower their standards to these shown by Grays Athletic today.
"On Monday morning I will be writing to the Conference and the FA as to why this has happened.
"What happens next year if Aaron is still playing for us and named in the team? Will they not let him in that time?"
Stags boss Holdsworth: Show me you can win ugly
MANSFIELD Town must prove they can win ugly before the end of the season, boss David Holdsworth insisted today.
After last weekend's 2-1 defeat at Grays, the Stags welcome promotion-chasing Torquay United to Field Mill this Saturday. Holdsworth wants to see an improvement in professionalism as well as performance against the Gulls.
"I didn't think all our players were at the races at Grays but we just have to see the game out in that situation," said Holdsworth.
"I remember playing against Wimbledon and it was horrible. When you went 1-0 down you couldn't get the ball off them because they were always kicking it in row Z.
"We have to have a few horrible people in the team – we are a bit too nice at times. We did miss Matt Somner.
"We have had some highs and that has built a lot of confidence, but this was a reminder to us that you have to keep your finger on the pulse for the whole 90-odd minutes."
With one eye already on next season, Holdsworth believes a squad of 23 will be ideal.
He says the majority will be in place by the time the players report back after the summer.
With 11 players out of contract in May and nine deals up in June, the manager faces a busy period.
"We will have a structure in place so that come the end of May we will know who is staying and who we are letting go. I want 80% of the squad here by the time we start our pre-season – it's just not viable any other way."
Daryl Clare, who scored his first goal for Mansfield on debut off the bench at Grays, could start against Torquay. He will continue his rehabilitation in tomorrow's reserve game at Macclesfield (7pm).
"Daryl is in with a chance and is putting pressure on Duffy and Stallard," he said.
The Stags will release Chris Wood, 22, Warren Burrell, 18, and Jamie McGhee, 19, at the end of the season.
Latest | March 2009