PREVIEWS FROM EVENING POST, CHAD, BBC.CO.UK
WATKISS AIMS TO UP THE TEMPO
Evening Post, 04 October 2002
Mansfield Town will play the same high-tempo football that took them into the Second Division as long as Stuart Watkiss is at the helm.
The Stags boss believes his side have to play to their strengths if they are going to climb off the bottom of the table, starting with tomorrow's home match with Tranmere Rovers.
He said: "If we are going to go down, we are going to do it playing my way and stick to our principles which served us well last year.
"The players know that if they cannot play that way, then I will bring others in who can.
"If things do not work out, at least we will do things our way."
Watkiss, who is likely to name an unchanged side from last week's 2-0 defeat at Northampton, has seen his team not score a league goal at home for 383 minutes.
But he was pleased with their performance at Sixfields and believes a change of fortune is just around the corner.
He said: "There were times last season, when we had a settled side, that we had a bit of arrogance about us and we almost left the opposition to worry about us.
"But this year, with the injuries we have had and the times when we have had players out of position, we have had to look at the opposition and try and nullify them too much.
"That has meant the players have not been in a settled routine and, when you are playing better players, you have to give them more respect.
"We started playing at a tempo early on in the season and it went well and, while we were conceding goals from set pieces, we were doing well in general play.
"But, after we conceded goals, we looked to change the way we played in order to protect the defence and that affected the way we were able to dictate the pace of the game.
"Then, in the game against Cheltenham, we were unable to pick the pace of the game up but we did that at Northampton and that was encouraging."
One player who will not be in the squad is Stuart Reddington, who will be heading to Woking with Burton Albion for his first game of a month's loan with Nigel Clough's side.
Peter Clark, who has recovered from a knee injury, will take Reddington's place on the bench while Damien Delaney, who is likely to feature at left-back, will see his month's loan from Leicester City expire after the clash with Rovers.
Mansfield have Fulham striker Luke Cornwall on trial with a view to him spending a month on loan at Field Mill.
The 22-year-old scored for the reserves in their 3-1 win over Boston on Wednesday.
MANSFIELD TOWN (probable): van Heusden, Clarke, Moore, Lever, Delaney, MacKenzie, Lawrence, Disley, Sellars, Christie, Larkin. Subs: J White, A White, Clark, Holyoak, Corden.
TRANMERE ROVERS (from): Whitehead, Allen, Edwards, Taylor, Mellon, Curtis, Harrison, Jones, Barlow, Hay, Achterberg, Hinds, Sharps, Olsen, Haworth, Hume.
Stags wary of Tranmere backlash
STAGS boss Stuart Watkiss warned his side to beware a Tranmere backlash at Field Mill on Saturday.
Watkiss was at Southampton on Wednesday night to see the Saints demolish Tranmere 6-1 and said: "Some of Tranmere's defending was shocking - there were some howlers.
"But we know they will be a different kettle of fish here on Saturday.
"I really felt for the Tranmere manager as I knew exactly what was going through his mind when we lost 6-1 at Oldham. I also know that, after that result, we bounced straight back to win at Luton in midweek so, just because Tranmere were hammered at Southampton, doesn't mean it will necessarily follow that we will turn them over on Saturday.
"They went to Southampton with a bold 4-3-3 formation and if they are brave enough to play that at St Mary's then they will be brave enough to play it here.
"We just need a win and a good performance to get everyone believing again. If we can get that then I really do believe we could turn our season around."
He added: "I had been trying to protect our defence a little in recent games after conceding so many goals which took some of the tempo out of our game.
"But I have had a chat with the players and said that if we do go down, then we will go down playing my way.
"I want to get back to playing at a tempo like we did last season and at the start of this season. We did that at Northampton on Saturday and everyone could se the improvement.
"If the players I have can't play like that for me then I will get players in who can play that way.
"If things don't work out for us then at least we will have stuck to our principles and gone down playing the way we believe is the right way to play."
The starting 11 will be the same ones who lost 2-0 at Northmapton last week and Peter Clark will replace Stuart Reddington on the bench after coming through Wednesday's reserve game.
Allen Tankard came through 45 minutes and will need another game or two before he is ready.
Shayne Bradley and Michael Bingham will be back next week with Bobby Hassell possibly the week after.
"I am getting a bit excited as we will only be missing 10 players for this Saturday," smiled Watkiss.
"But I am scared to say too much about good news on the injury front as we keep getting kicks in the teeth."
Mansfield's abysmal home record has seen them lose four League games on the trot without scoring a goal since beating Plymouth on the first day of the season.
Fine start for Fulham trialist
FULHAM striker Luke Cornwall scored in Stags reserves' excellent 3-1 win at Boston last night as he arrived for a few days on trial.
Cornwall is a regular goalscorer in the Cottagers' reserve side and also scored goals while out on loan at Grimsby last season.
"We are just going to have a look at him for a few days," said manager Stuart Watkiss.
"We have to decide if Luke is going to be good enough to startt in our first team or if he would just be a bit player and would it be worth it?
"We do have other irons in the fire as well."
Wayne Corden and Mark Carter were Mansfield's other scorers at Boston in an excellent all-round team performance.
Central defender Stuart Reddington has gone to Conference side Burton Albion on a month's loan and others may follow as Watkiss looks to freshen things up with some new faces.
One target is Sunderland striker Michael Reddy who has just returned after injury.
Mansfield Town manager Stuart Watkiss welcomes back loan signing Peter Clark for the clash with Tranmere at Field Mill.
Clark has recovered from tendinitis in his knee and is expected to be on the substitutes' bench instead of Stuart Reddington, who has gone on a month's loan to Burton Albion.
Allen Tankard and Michael Bingham (both knee) are back in training but this game has come too soon for them.
Goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington (broken wrist) is sidelined so Arjan Van Heusden will deputise, while Daniel Bacon and Lee Williamson are still suspended.
Watkiss knows the Stags face stiff competition against Tranmere and said: "They are one of the better teams in the division and I expect them to play the same formation against us."
Tranmere could be without Wales international full-back Gareth Roberts.
The former Liverpool trainee suffered a back injury in the 6-1 Worthington Cup thrashing at Southampton and limped out of the action.
Rovers boss Ray Mathias was deeply unhappy with the way his side defended at St Mary's and could make further changes to his back-line.
Striker Simon Haworth returns after a one-match suspension but Shane Nicholson (groin) and Alan Navarro (knee) are likely to miss out again.
Posted by Martin Shaw
Latest | October 2002