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The view from the commentary box:
Clare debut as boss targets top 10 finish
CHAD.co.uk, 06 April 2009,
By John Lomas
DAVID Holdsworth has set his Mansfield Town side a top 10 finish target ahead of tomorrow night's visit of Ebbsfleet United (7.45pm).
Full story at CHAD.co.uk here
The match will also mark a full debut for goal ace Daryl Clare at last.
After a run of good results, the Stags have stuttered of late and are without a win in four games, though remain unbeaten at Field Mill since Holdsworth took over at the turn of the year.
"It is a busy schedule now, starting with three games in seven days but I have put myself on a soapbox and laid the gauntlet down to the players to finish in the top 10," he said.
"Just look at our run-in - four home games, two away, and five of them against sides lower than us with the last game against a side that may have already won their place in the play-offs by then.
"It is a great opportunity for us to go on a good run.
"Maybe I am asking too much but you have to have targets and I reckon 12 or maybe 13 points out of the 18 left to play for would get us into the top 10.
"We need to stay unbeaten at home and get back to those clean sheets."
Holdsworth lashed his lacklustre side after Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Wrexham and added: "The players were in on Sunday for a cool-down but I stayed away as I was like an angry bear in the woods so I thought it best.
"But we had a good meeting today. The players understood and shared my disappointment. They are hurting and have held their hands up.
"As a player it's a good thing to have another game this quickly after a display like that and whatever XI I send out tomorrow night - and only Alan Marriott and Daryl Clare are guaranteed to start - I will expect a response from them.
"Daryl is champing at the bit to start but was frustrated on Saturday as we didn't give him the silver service he needs. A goalscorer thrives on crosses and we didn't provide them for him.
"It will probably take him four or five games to get going and he will probably want the season to continue just when it is coming to an end.
"We have invested time and effort into Daryl Clare and both want to see it come to fruition.
"We need players in that top goalscorers table if we want to progress next season."
Stags came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Ebbsfleet in the opening game of the season.
After a poor run, the visitors have just won three games on the trot by the same score of 1-0.
"They are proving tough to beat and we must be respectful and determined and get on that scoresheet ourselves," said the manager.
Holdworth's biggest injury worries centre on winger Ryan Williams (dead leg) and central defender Adie Moses (groin) while Gary Silk (groin) and Scott Gardner (hamstring) are already ruled out.
Mark Stallard is off ill and has been so poorly it seems likely he has pulled a lower stomach muscle. However, new boy Oliver Hotchkiss has now recovered from the same illness to join a squad that also includes young striker Conor Higginson.
After tomorrow, Stags host Barrow on Saturday before travelling to Northwich Victoria 48 hours later on Easter Monday.
Spencer Weir-Daley may be joined by former Notts County team mate Jay Smith on trial at Field Mill if he has recovered from a hamstring strain.
"He is not the biggest but he is a good passer of the ball and worth looking at," said manager Holdsworth.
Former Magpie Smith trains with Stags
Evening Post, April 06, 2009
JAY Smith is the latest former Notts County player being given the chance to impress at Mansfield.
Full story at Evening Post website here
The former Southend midfielder had his contract at Meadow Lane cancelled by mutual consent at the same time as Spencer Weir-Daley, who is now training with the Stags.
It is hoped Smith, 27, will recover from a slight hamstring niggle he is carrying to play in next Wednesday's home reserve game with Lincoln, along with Weir-Daley.
"Jay is not the biggest, which is a bit of a concern, but he is a very tidy player," said Mansfield manager David Holdsworth..
"He's a creative player and passes the ball well and though I have seen him play before, I can have a closer look at him now."
%3Cbody%3E%3Cdiv%20id%3D%22adDiv%22%3E%3Ca%20href%3D%22http%3A//ads.anm.co.uk/ADCLICK/CID%3D0000b139f7f5f6ff00000000/AAMSZ%3D452x118/POS%3D/SITE%3DTHISISNOTT/AREA%3DFOOTBALL/SUBAREA%3D/ARTICLE%3D876550/acc_random%3D4830920190/pageid%3D/RS%3D%22%20target%3D_top%3E%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//iad.anm.co.uk/house/1x1.gif%22%20alt%3D%22Click%20here%21%22%20border%3D0%20%3E%3C/a%3E%3C/div%3EJake Speight is continuing to train with Mansfield while also playing for Conference North side Droylsden.
Holdsworth added: "He has shown some good qualities but he can't play in the game with Lincoln because of playing for Droylsden."
The Stags boss confirmed Daryl Clare will start his first game for Mansfield tomorrow night at home to Ebbsfleet.
Ryan Williams (dead leg) and Adie Moses (groin) are doubts while Gary Silk (groin), Scott Gardner (hamstring) and Mark Stallard (illness) are definitely out.
But loan signing Ollie Hotchkiss is back in the squad after missing Saturday's Wrexham trip through illness.
Stags boss Holdsworth sets top-ten target
Tuesday, April 07, 2009, 08:00Comment on this story
DAVID Holdsworth has targeted a top-ten finish for Mansfield Town this season.
The Stags sit 14th in the Blue Square Premier table, with six games to go.
But with four of those matches at Field Mill – including tonight's clash with Ebbsfleet United – he believes his side can end their campaign on a high.
"If this was a run-in until the end of the season and we were challenging, then I would be doing handstands," said Holdsworth.
"We have four games at home and five of our six matches are against teams lower than us in the league.
%3Cbody%3E%3Cdiv%20id%3D%22adDiv%22%3E%3Ca%20href%3D%22http%3A//ads.anm.co.uk/ADCLICK/CID%3D0000b139f7f5f6ff00000000/AAMSZ%3D452x118/POS%3D/SITE%3DTHISISNOTT/AREA%3DFOOTBALL/SUBAREA%3D/ARTICLE%3D881331/acc_random%3D1514922221/pageid%3D/RS%3D%22%20target%3D_top%3E%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//iad.anm.co.uk/house/1x1.gif%22%20alt%3D%22Click%20here%21%22%20border%3D0%20%3E%3C/a%3E%3C/div%3E"The other (Stevenage) is against a team who might already be in the play-offs by then.
"It is an opportunity to have a good run and that has been put over to the players.
"It's a massive ask to finish in the top ten, but it is something we are trying to take on.
"It might prove to be out of reach but you have to have targets and that's ours.
"I think if we get 12 or maybe 13 points, that would be enough to do it, so we are looking at four wins and a draw."
Ebbsfleet travel to Mansfield having won their last three games 1-0 to haul themselves away from relegation trouble.
Holdsworth wants the Stags to show the same kind of thriftiness after his team conceded five goals in their last two games.
He said: "I want us to get back to keeping clean sheets and remain unbeaten at home.
"Ebbsfleet have proven themselves tough to beat and we have to be respectful, but we are determined to get on the scoresheet."
Leading the way in that regard will be Daryl Clare, poised to start for the first time since his loan move from Rushden and Diamonds.
"What Daryl needs is the right kind of service – if he gets it, he will score.
"I have set him targets and he has set them for himself. It might take him a few games to get into it and he'll be wishing the season wasn't ending."
Clare: I'll repay boss's patience
Tuesday, April 07, 2009, 08:00Comment on this story
LIKE your average Dragons' Den idea, Daryl Clare's 2008-2009 season has never really taken off.
But, as with many of those who face the wrath of Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and co, he is not about to give up after a setback – and Mansfield Town could be the ones to benefit.
The striker had high hopes when he made the switch to ambitious Rushden and Diamonds for the start of the campaign, looking to add to his reputation as a potent goalscorer.
But, like Alan Marriott, a bright start at Nene Park did not work out in the long run and he headed to pastures new and Field Mill.
There was nothing wrong with Clare's start at Rushden, scoring in his first three games and bagging five in his first 10 starts.
%3Cbody%3E%3Cdiv%20id%3D%22adDiv%22%3E%3Ca%20href%3D%22http%3A//ads.anm.co.uk/ADCLICK/CID%3D0000b139f7f5f6ff00000000/AAMSZ%3D452x118/POS%3D/SITE%3DTHISISNOTT/AREA%3DFOOTBALL/SUBAREA%3D/ARTICLE%3D877037/acc_random%3D5575854035/pageid%3D/RS%3D%22%20target%3D_top%3E%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//iad.anm.co.uk/house/1x1.gif%22%20alt%3D%22Click%20here%21%22%20border%3D0%20%3E%3C/a%3E%3C/div%3EBut then Clare fell out of favour and with his family life suffering from the long commute from his Louth home, he requested a transfer in the New Year.
That sparked a chase from then new Stags manager David Holdsworth to land his signature, an issue complicated by Diamonds' desire to recoup a fee.
But eventually Mansfield got their man in March, when Clare was allowed to join Mansfield on loan for the rest of the season with a view to a permanent move.
Because of an absence from action for 12 weeks, what remains of this season has been all about getting back into shape.
But, according to boss Holdsworth, the 30-year-old is set to get a reward for the hard work he has put in with a first start against Ebbsfleet tonight.
"The gaffer made a huge effort to sign me and I respect his reasons for holding me back," said Clare.
"It is a long road back to fitness and I have to be careful. I have been itching to get back for a start but I know I have to bide my time.
"The gaffer has known that I have not quite been there to make an impact from the start but my body condition is good now.
"It will be great to get that first start when it comes and hopefully I can get a little run of games where I can put a scoring run together."
Clare has already opened his account for Mansfield, scoring just six minutes after coming on as a substitute for the first time at Grays.
He also netted after just four minutes in a Stags reserve game as they beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at Field Mill.
It is that finishing ability, together with flashes of skill in his other cameo appearances off the bench, that have made him an instant favourite.
Clare said: "The fans have taken to me and it's always nice when you get the approval of the supporters.
"But, ultimately, I know I am going to be judged on the performances I put in and the goals I score."
This evening's clash with the Fleet – with whom Mansfield drew 2-2 draw at Stonebridge Road on the opening day – is the first of four games against lower ranked side.
Clare knows the home crowd will be demanding a victory after recent struggles on the road.
"We have got a run of games now where people will expect us to put a number of wins together," he said.
"We as players fully expect to do that as well, but you have to be careful when you are playing sides in and around the relegation zone.
"But four of our six games left are at home which is superb and gives us the chance to finish the season well."
With just half a dozen games of the season left to go, a Mansfield player has yet to reach a double figure goals tally.
Veteran Mark Stallard is the closest with nine but has rarely featured in the second half of the campaign.
Clare said: "It is difficult to know why no-one has got in double figures this season when I haven't been around to see it.
"But from the club's overall point of view, they will be disappointed not to see any of their strikers in that leading pack.
"It has been difficult because there has been a couple of big changes at the club over the past year. But the goalscoring issue is something we need to address next season.
"Anyone challenging for promotion needs four strikers and for two of those to get a big number each.
"You need solid foundations in defence but also to get forward and score plenty of goals."
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