OXFORD PREVIEWS, NO APPEAL AGAINST MILLS RED CARD
Stags unlikely to appeal Mills red card --->
Left back on standby for Oxford clash --->
Holdsworth warns Stags must shackle striker to earn win
Evening Post, September 22, 2009
IT seems an obvious gag to crack ahead of Mansfield Town's game tonight, yet is actually a statement of fact: Oxford's James Constable is going to take some policing.
Certainly, the prospect of stopping the former Shrewsbury striker is no laughing matter for Stags manager David Holdsworth.
Red-hot Constable has fired eight goals in nine 2009-2010 games to help fire the club to the Blue Square Premier summit – eight points clear of their nearest rivals.
The 24-year-old has linked up to devastating effect in a 4-3-3 formation alongside Matt Green – with whom he shares a house – and former Crawley man Jamie Cook.
Eastbourne could not arrest the progress of Constable at the weekend as his latest strike helped Oxford record an emphatic 4-0 win – their ninth in 11 matches.
Holdsworth is a big admirer of the former Kidderminster man, singing his praises after Mansfield's 1-0 defeat at the Kassam Stadium in February.
And he knows that stopping him at Field Mill could be key to Mansfield's hopes of inflicting a first defeat in 12 games on the early leaders.
"Constable is a major threat and has always been at this level after dropping down from the League when Oxford paid a good fee for him," said Holdsworth.
"He's a hard-working boy, he is mobile, aggressive, puts defenders under pressure and is also a good finisher.
"It is going to be a hard night for our defenders, but we have to stop these types of player if we want to win games.
"I have seen Oxford a couple of times on the DVD this season and had some good reports on them, but you can worry about the opposition too much sometimes.
"We know their strengths – and they have got lots of them. They are beating teams comfortably home and away playing a 4-3-3 formation.
"But I would like to think they will be expecting a tough game and that is what we aim to make it for them."
While Mansfield's run of five games without a win is frustrating for Holdsworth, he still has every confidence in the ability of his players.
He was quick to say after Saturday's last-gasp defeat at Rushden and Diamonds that, in his view, no big changes in personnel are needed.
Holdsworth feels it is only a matter of time before his side gets back on the winning trail.
He said: "Weak people fold and crumble, the strong ones respond, which is what we aim to do.
"It is never an easy game when things are going against you, but you have to show resolve.
"The boys are disappointed, which shows their depth of character, but they remain 100 per cent focused and are not down in the dumps.
"We could easily be four or five points better off, even if we deserved and got nothing at Kidderminster, because we should have beaten Grays, were two-up against Stevenage before the sending off and should have drawn at Rushden.
"Things could be a lot different and we could be sitting second in the league.
"I am not going to have a go at the players because they are giving everything and it is still a work in progress. They have known each other for three months."
Facing the prospect of having both Kyle Perry and Rob Duffy sidelined, Holdsworth is hoping others can make their mark.
"We are going to have to change the format because we can't even call on Jason Bradley – he is injured after scoring on loan at King's Lynn at the weekend," he said.
"But it is time for other players to stand up and be counted. Other players with reputations have to come to the forefront.
"It is a great occasion for the other strikers to come out and stake their claim for a first team spot."
Marriott: Stags will thrive on underdog status
Evening Post, September 22, 2009
ALAN Marriott believes Mansfield will thrive on being labelled underdogs for tonight's home clash with early league leaders Oxford United.
The unbeaten visitors have dropped just four points in their first 11 games to open up an eight-point gap over the rest of the chasing pack.
The Stags, meanwhile, have lost their last three and are now five games without a victory.
But goalkeeper Marriott says Mansfield could spring a surprise as the pressure is off and everyone is expecting a Us win.
"Personally I think it might be a good thing that we play a team such as Oxford right now," he said.
"They will be favourites coming in while we have been seen as favourites going into a lot of games.
"People look at the fact Mansfield is a big club and have a big fan base and so expect us to win games.
"But this time we can go out there and express ourselves as we can do because everyone will be expecting us to lose."
Just like last season, Mansfield have faltered after a promising start, winning five of their first six games.
But Marriott assures fans the players are doing their best to ensure the team is not in the doldrums for long.
He said: "I heard what happened here last year and that's pretty similar to what has happened now.
"I'm sure the supporters will be thinking 'here we go again', but I see how much it hurts the gaffer and us as players.
"I don't think we have deserved what has happened (in the last few matches), but that's football.
"There are a lot of lows in the game compared to the highs but we are working as hard as ever to get things right."
Mansfield will not bring in a left-back on loan ahead of the match, even if Craig Armstrong (hamstring) does not recover.
Stags have class to climb table, says Sturrock
Evening Post, September 22, 2009
BLAIR Sturrock insists Mansfield's bad form is temporary – but their class is permanent.
The striker made his full debut for the Stags at Rushden and Diamonds on Saturday.
But ahead of Mansfield's game with leaders Oxford tonight, the Scot is adamant Mansfield are a fraction away from getting it right after suffering their third successive defeat.
"I know it's coming, I know we are going to bounce back," said Sturrock. "Oxford are going well and looking good but we are not having that bit of luck that perhaps they are.
"Every game is big but if we can win this one, pick up and go on a run, then it will take us back up there.
"I will be trying everything I can and I know the rest of the boys will as well.
" We can definitely win the game – no one doubts that.
"We have some good players at this cluband there is no reason why we can't get back to that."
Mansfield are without the suspended Kyle Perry, while Rob Duffy is also set to miss out with an ankle injury.
But Sturrock believes he and the other striking options are well-equipped to prove themselves able replacements.
He said: "We are all fit and ready and the gaffer demands that for situations like this.
"I think Jake Speight did well when he came on at Rushden.
"He battled and linked up quite well and there is Daryl Clare and myself as well.
"We may have to change style a bit and vary it if Duffers is out, but I can win a few headers if need be.
"The gaffer will make the decision who to go with, but I know he is not only thinking for this season but also for the future."
Stags to draft in emergency left back?
CHAD.co.uk, 21 September 2009, By John Lomas
DAVID Holdsworth may have to draft in an emergency left back for tomorrow night's visit of runaway BSP leaders Oxford United (7.45pm).
Craig Armstrong has suffered a recurrence of his hamstring strain and is 50-50 to play while fellow left back Paul Heckingbottom is only just back in full time training today and not ready for a return.
Centre half Luke Graham has filled in there before this season and is another option. But Holdsworth may plump for a genuine left back in the morning to maintain the team balance.
"We will just have to see how Craig does in training today," he said.
Holdsworth is already without suspended pair Gary Mills and Kyle Perry while Perry's strike partner Rob Duffy is ruled out with an ankle injury picked up on Saturday.
Without a big target man, it means Holdsworth must select two from Daryl Clare, Jake Speight and Blair Sturrock as his front pairing.
"We may have to change our format with the players we have available," said Holdsworth.
"With injuries and suspensions it is time for other players to stand up and be counted and take their chance.
"We have other players here with reputations and they must now come to the fore and stake their claim.
"Oxford play 4-3-3 so our full backs must be brave and get forward.
"Ever since Chris Wilder developed this squad in the summer you knew they would be right up there.
"But when the chips are down, sometimes there is no better time to play the leaders. We must put them under pressure, get in their faces and see what happens.
"I have total belief in my boys' abilities. They are all confident lads and are well aware that on any given day we can beat anyone."
Oxford sit eight points clear at the top and are unbeaten, having won nine of their 11 games and chalked up 23 goals.
Stags, in stark contrast, have slid down to ninth after a run of five games without a win and three straight defeats.
Also, Oxford have not conceded in over 500 minutes and their impressive striker James Constable has already notched eight goals.
"James Constable is a major threat and always will be at this level," said Holdsworth. "Our centre halves will be tested as he is mobile, aggressive and a good finisher. We have to stop him.
"Down there last season we got beat 1-0 but had the two clearest chances which we didn't take.
"Burton last year had a wonderful start and secure a large amount of points and Oxford are trying to emulate them. But they will expect a tough game here from us tomorrow."
He added: "The fans have been different class and I am sure they will be our 12th man tomorrow and get behind us.
"You can't kid them and they have seen things have not dropped for us recently and stayed in full support of us on Saturday."
Extra match tickets are now available to buy for the West Stand Upper tomorrow and supporters who wish to sit in the Upper West for this crunch match should ring the Stags' ticket office on 01623 482 482 to pre-purchase their ticket before 5pm today (Monday).
The club is expecting to open both wings of the Upper West for this match if demand is high enough, but supporters must book their seat in advance and cannot pay on the day for admission into this area of the ground.
Seats will be released in Block K in the first instance and then Block J, and if necessary then in Blocks Q and R.
Previously, both wings of the upper tier had been closed off to save on stewarding costs.
But the club will make extra seats available for this game with a large crowd anticipated.
As per usual, both the Quarry Lane End and West Stand Lower are available for non-season ticket holders who can pay on the day.
Mills' red card stands
CHAD.co.uk, 21 September 2009, By John Lomas
STAGS skipper Gary Mills begins a three-game ban tomorrow night after his red card at Rushden on Saturday - but manager David Holdsworth is still convinced it was worth nothing more than a yellow.
Mills and home winger Lee Tomlin squared up after Mills had fouled him and the two stood nose to nose.
"I have seen the video and I still think it's 'handbags' with two players showing a small breach of discipline," said Holdsworth. "There was a coming together of heads, but did it really warrant sending them off?
"I have spoken to Rushden who agree with me and I have spoken to the referee who felt they showed 'aggressive behaviour' but declined to go into it too much.
"Once again we are paying the price as we lose the player for three matches.
"Gary knows himself he dropped his standards in the heat of the moment. I will deal with him privately as I do all players here.
"Last week it took a referee seven minutes to send Kyle Perry off, this week it took him six seconds. Yet he didn't consult an assistant or even his fourth official who was very well placed.
"At Kidderminster one of our players was pushed in the face off the ball yet all their lad got was a yellow card and that was much more aggressive behaviour. There are so many grey areas."
Stags unlikely to appeal Mills red
Evening Post, September 21, 2009
MANSFIELD are unlikely to appeal against Gary Mills' red card at former club Rushden and Diamonds.
Stags' boss David Holdsworth spoke to match referee Ross Joyce about the incident involving the midfielder and Lee Tomlin this morning.
He was told the sending off was for the 'aggressive behaviour' of both players as they squared-up to each other.
Skipper Mills now faces a three-game ban, which would include the games against Oxford, Hayes and Yeading and Barrow.
"When I spoke to Justin Edinburgh after the game he said the decision was for the clash of heads," said Holdsworth.
"But having spoken to the referee he said it was for the aggressive behaviour they showed towards each other.
"That is a grey area, but I felt it was two yellows and not enough to send anyone off.
"It is an interpretation only the referee can decide on.
"Against Stevenage it took seven minutes and the help of a fourth official to send off Kyle Perry. This took six seconds.
"Another referee might have chosen to consult a linesman and the fourth official had a very good view.
"We have got until 5pm today to appeal, but we are probably not going to bother.
"I'm experienced enough to know these things don't often go in your favour.
"I will deal with Gary privately and it will remain that way, but we will pay the price by him missing three games.
"He knows he dropped his standards in the heat of the moment and on another day he might show more composure."
Striker Rob Duffy is almost certainly out of tomorrow night's game against former club Oxford with an ankle injury.
And with Kyle Perry already suspended, Jake Speight, Blair Sturrock and Daryl Clare look set to fight for starting places in a new-look attack.
Craig Armstrong is rated 50-50 with a hamstring problem and with Paul Heckingbottom not yet match fit, Holdsworth will consider going into the loan market if need be.
Otherwise, Luke Graham or Scott Gardner stand by to deputise.
Latest | September 2009