Ventrella set for Blue Square debut
Evening Post, September 04, 2009
MANSFIELD Town are set to hand a Blue Square Premier debut to 17-year-old Jonathan Ventrella at Grays Athletic tomorrow.
Full story at Evening Post website here
Manager David Holdsworth turned to the rookie left-back because senior men Craig Armstrong and Paul Heckingbottom are out with hamstring injuries.
Another potential replacement, trialist Joe Lamplough, is not being considered because he has not trained enough with the squad.
Holdsworth has every faith that Ventrella, who signed a two-year deal when he joined from South Notts College, has the character to cope.
"Craig will be out, time's not on his side," said Holdsworth.
"There is some swelling behind his knee and four days have not been enough for him to recover. It is not worth risking him tomorrow.
"Hecks is not far away and will be back in training next week. If this was at the end of next week then he might have been able to play.
"But Jonathan did very well when he played in pre-season and the kid is a great prospect.
"I have been looking to get him out on loan to get him some games. He will be able to slot in for us."
Rob Duffy is also set to miss out at the Recreation Ground after tweaking ankle ligaments.
Blair Sturrock is not being considered for around two weeks because he is still building up his fitness after his deadline day move to Field Mill.
Stags' Silk: We'll stay professional at Grays
Saturday, September 05, 2009, 07:00Comment on this story
IT was a strange day all-round for Mansfield Town the last time they visited the Recreation Ground, Grays, in March.
For a start, they ended up losing a game that for much of it they looked like winning.
A Stags purple patch in the second half produced a raft of chances and Daryl Clare, coming on as substitute, scored his first goal for the Stags.
From there, the expectation was that the visitors would close the game out, but two uncharacteristic defensive lapses saw the game turned on its head and a disappointed manager David Holdsworth ruing what might have been after a 2-1 defeat.
But the game itself was largely overshadowed by an off-the-field incident that saw Mansfield's Aaron O'Connor refused admission to the ground.
The former Grays player was not admitted because owner Mick Woodward was said to still be unhappy with the way in which the forward's transfer north had been conducted.
The Stags, though, felt they had done nothing wrong and were bemused by the treatment of O'Connor.
It could hardly have helped their pre-match preparations.
As Mansfield return to East London, they could hardly be in better form and are five games unbeaten.
They will hope for a more friendly welcome this afternoon, but, even if not, right-back Gary Silk maintains they will stay professional and focus on the job in hand.
"Although it was unusual, I don't think what happened there last time really put us off and we didn't use it as an excuse," said Silk.
"Things like that happen when you are on the road and you just have to deal with it. It is part and parcel of football.
"It is in the same way that you have to learn to deal with the long journeys. You get on the coach, get together, play a bit of cards and enjoy each other's company.
"It goes quite quickly normally, but it helps on the way home if you've won – and the gaffer is a lot easier on you!
"Last season, our away form was not great and maybe that was in the back of our minds going into games.
"But we have put that to the back of our minds now with two good away performances and wins. Hopefully, we can improve on that again.
"With respect to Grays, we aren't just going down there to hold our own, we are going down there to take the three points."
Silk feels he has acquitted himself well since coming back into the side for the trip to Salisbury.
Last season's player of the year started the season out of the reckoning but was given his chance after Scott Gardner saw red in the 4-1 defeat at Luton.
"I'm very pleased to be back in the team because any footballer will tell you they just want to play," said Silk.
"Scott got himself in the team but then got himself sent off and I have managed to take advantage of that.
"I've been reasonably happy with my form, although there is always room for improvement."
As a defender, Silk is fiercely proud of the club's defensive record, with five clean sheets in their first seven games.
He feels that owes much to the way he and his team-mates have quickly learned to operate as a unit.
"I think we have got a good back-line considering we haven't played together all that long and it has worked well so far. But I still think it will improve," said Silk.
"I think it is going well because we all work hard to cover for each other. The wingers get back and help out the full-backs and the central midfielders protect the middle of the defence.
"There are good partnerships all over the pitch, which is what you need."
Determination is high in the Mansfield camp they will avenge their defeat on the banks of the Thames in the spring.
They don't want another Gray day.
Garner: Stags can push for title
Saturday, September 05, 2009, 07:00Comment on this story
SCOTT Garner insists Mansfield Town deserve to be considered Blue Square Premier title-chasers after their bright start to the season.
The Stags have won five of their first seven games, losing just one to sit second in the table behind Oxford United.
Pre-season talk at Field Mill was of a push for the play-offs in David Holdsworth's first full season.
But ahead of today's trip to Grays Athletic, Garner is confident enough to predict the Stags can stay in the running for top spot.
"We have put ourselves in the right position up at the top, but there are some very strong teams," said the 19-year-old former Leicester man.
"It is definitely important to get off to a good start.
"You have to put yourself right in there and make sure you don't lose your chance by letting someone get too far ahead.
"We have got such a strong squad and you could see it building in the summer, which is why we've got a good chance to push.
"I don't think we will struggle at any point because we have back-up in every position.
" And I think we can still go up another one or two levels."
With Stags hitting the early- season goal trail – their 0-0 draw with Kettering was the first time they have been shut-out – the strikers have been making most of the headlines.
But England C call-up Garner is more than happy to let five clean sheets in seven games slip under the radar if the Stags keep winning.
He said: "I'm happy to keep quiet and let our strikers do the business.
"The strikers trust us at the back and know they can push on and go on the all-out attack."
Ventrella poised for Stags league debut
CHAD.co.uk, 04 September 2009, By Stephen Thirkill
TEENAGE defender Jonathan Ventrella could make his Stags league debut against Grays tomorrow to fill in the vacant left-back spot.
Promising Ventrella (17) played in the pre-season games against Alfreton Town and Hartlepool United and is likely to deputise for the injured Paul Heckingbottom and Craig Armstrong.
And he could also make his first start alongside former Swindon striker Blair Sturrock, who was snapped up by the ambitious Stags at the end of the August transfer window.
Boss David Holdsworth said: "Young Ventrella will probably start the game, we have got players that can come into that spot and I am confident that he will give a good account of himself.
"Sturrock has enjoyed being here and has trained very hard. We have had a chat about what type of manager I am and how important I regard fitness levels. It is great seeing him training with a smile on his face.
"He is a very good player and gives me another headache tomorrow, but that is what management is all about. No-one is guarenteed their place at this club."
Stags travel to Essex riding a wave of confidence and currently sit second in the table having gone unbeaten in their last five outings.
But despite the form books perhaps pointing to a Stags win, Holdsworth is expecting a tough game against struggling Grays.
"There is a great buzz around the club right now and we are full of confidence,"he said. "We want to continue this run if we can. Grays is never an easy place to go to, but we are going there to win.
"I don't forget a lot of things and I remember how we lost there last season and I don't want that to happen again. We were in command of the game last year and I was rather upset that we switched off and ended up losing the game.
"They have had a lot of changes in personnel and that can sometimes spur teams on, but what goes on behind the scenes there is nothing to do with us. We will approach the game in a professional manner and go for the win."
Holdsworth praises tough Stags defence
CHAD.co.uk, 04 September 2009, By Stephen Thirkill
DELIGHTED Stags boss David Holdsworth has paid tribute to his team's rock-solid defence.
So far the Mansfield rearguard have kept five clean sheets in their opening seven league games and been the bedrock of Stags impressive start to the Blue Square Premier season.
Said Holdsworth: "The defence have been wonderful this year, five clean sheets out of seven is fantastic.
"Jones has been immense, Scott Garner has come back well and I am sure he can play at a higher level. I know the type of quality he has got and he can make it higher in the game.
"Silk has been outstanding. He had a tough game against Ebbsfleet and came through it very well. Craig Armstrong has also grown in recent weeks and is a good personality."
Holdsworth was also full of praise for the defensive aspects of his midfield and Stags' abilities to defend set pieces.
"Somner and Nix have done some excellent work in screening the defence which is a big part of our success.
"At set pieces we look strong, I am a big believer of getting men behind the ball. We look solid and do not look like conceding.
"Getting men behind the ball for set pieces and not leaving anybody up when we defend corners gives us foundations and makes us very solid."
Kyle Perry speaks to Chad
CHAD audio at CHAD.co.uk here
CHAD.co.uk, 03 September 2009, By John Lomas
IN this exclusive audio interview, Stags striker Kyle Perry tells Chad about being awarded that winning goal at Chester last weekend.
He also talks about new signing Blair Sturrock, the competition for striker places at the club, the four-point Bank Holiday weekend, and the trip to Grays ahead on Saturday.
Stags' Speight ready to make up for lost time
Evening Post, September 04, 2009
EVEN before he had started a game for new club Mansfield Town, the fans already loved him.
Three goals before August was out ensured Jake Speight won the immediate respect of the Field Mill faithful with his displays as a substitute.
Cries of 'Jake who?' were quickly silenced. The fans could see with their own eyes exactly what the livewire forward offered.
But after making his first start at Chester City, the 23-year-old is not done yet. Not by a long chalk.
Speight wants to make up for lost time after spending a sizeable chunk of his career to date on the sidelines.
Released at Sheffield United without playing a game, he briefly played at Scarborough but then moved to Bury.
Frustratingly for him, he was used mainly off the bench at Gigg Lane and after 34 appearances, yielding just two goals, he moved on to Northwich Victoria in search of regular first-team football.
However, just four appearances followed for the Cheshire club as he suffered serious knee problems.
At that point, Speight's career was at a crossroads.
Fortunately for the Stags, Speight made a full recovery, found some form at Droylsden last season after a brief spell at Farsley, and is now ready to terrorise Blue Square Premier defences.
Speight was back among the substitutes for the Stags' 0-0 draw with Kettering on Monday, but is enjoying life in north Notts and is looking forward to tomorrow's trip to Grays Athletic.
"I was out for seven months (at Northwich) and then I came back and then was out for nearly another year. It was just bad luck really," he said.
"Once you have been out and seen that you might not play again, it makes you very hungry when you get back fit.
"At times, I did think I might not play again – and people can quickly forget your face when you're out of the game.
"But I have worked hard to get back where I am now and I hope all that is behind me.
"I think I am improving here as a player. It is the first time in a year-and-a-half that I have been full-time.
"I'm happy using these kind of facilities and I have to look at this as my big chance."
Initial contributions from Speight have been impressive, despite limited time on the pitch.
The Sheffield-born player feels that is down to the structure that has been put in place by the club's owners and manager David Holdsworth.
Speight said: "I don't think I have ever been at a club where there has been such a professional set-up.
"I think it's the little things that people don't see that make the difference.
"You really get looked after and we do things right with overnight stays and pre-match meals, things like that.
"It makes you want to stay behind after training and do that extra little bit."
Like many of the Mansfield players who signed in the summer, Speight has been impressed by Holdsworth's man-management skills.
"Before I signed, I didn't realise how much the boss motivated people before the games. He really gets them up for it," he said.
"It is frustrating for me because I've been on the bench a lot, but he really does a good job."
Speight has been just as much of a threat for Mansfield down the flank as through the middle, his favoured position.
He said: "I will play anywhere just to get minutes on the pitch. I love playing up front, but then I've got my goals from coming on down the right.
"At Droylsden, I played on the right of three but it's obviously different here – a lot bigger club with more competition."
Blair Sturrock's arrival earlier this week is likely to make it harder for all Mansfield's front men to clinch regular first-team football.
But more of what he has produced so far can only enhance Speight's chances of achieving his long-term goal.
Athletic's McEvilly nursing a shin injury prior to weekend
Thursday 3rd September 2009
Grays Athletic have no fresh injuries going into Saturday's fixture against Mansfield Town.
Lee McEvilly remains unavailable with a shin injury.
Latest | September 2009