BBC Oxford TV video highlights --->
Gareth Holmes post match video --->
Ryan Williams and Craig Armstrong post match video --->
Mansfield 103.2 audio with David Holdsworth, Craig Armstrong, Scott Garner, Jim Rosenthal --->
Stags prove they can still figure in promotion race
Evening Post, September 23, 2009
GARETH Holmes believes Mansfield Town's win over league leaders Oxford last night shows they can still figure in the promotion race.
The Stags were 2-1 winners over a United side which had won nine and drawn two of their 11 games and not conceded in their previous six outings.
Ryan Williams and Jake Speight put the home side 2-0 in front before James Constable pulled a goal back 16 minutes from time.
But Mansfield survived a couple of late scares to move back up to seventh in the table, just outside the play-off places after a recent poor run.
"From start to finish we really came out with all guns blazing and it was an excellent performance," said assistant boss Holmes.
"I think this shows what we have in the dressing room. We have had injuries and Kyle Perry and Gary Mills suspended.
"But you look at the quality in depth we have and that stands us in good stead for the rest of the season.
"The lads have to understand that we have a tremendous chance to get ourselves up there this season."
The result put an end to an unwanted run of five games without a victory including three defeats on the bounce against Kidderminster, Stevenage and Rushden.
Holmes added: "We were really positive and that's come after working really hard on the training ground.
"The lads have been wanting to turn things around although they have not been playing poorly. The performance was a credit to the players and staff."
Goal hero Ryan delighted as Stags doubters are silenced
CHAD.co.uk, 22 September 2009, By John Lomas
GOAL hero Ryan Williams was delighted as he put Stags on the way to a magnificent 2-1 win over Oxford on Tuesday night and helped silence the doubters after Stags had gone five games without a win.
"That was a fantastic win and we showed a lot of guts tonight," he said.
"The doubters were there and we have bounced back like we know we can do. We have worked hard and stuck together as a squad.
"It's a long road ahead and tonight was only three points, we know that. But it's put us back on the right road.
"It's a massive win. The main thing tonight was to get back to winning ways. But take nothing away from Oxford - they are a good side and showed tonight why they are top of the league."
Williams then spoke of his crucial opening goal – a 20th minute lob – which was his first of the season.
"The ball came to me and I had seen the keeper off his line and just guided it over," he said. "It was a split second decision I had to make. But it bounced nicely and I just tried my luck.
"I thought Jake Speight was magnificent tonight. He scored a great goal and caused their defence no end of problems.
Stags coach Gareth Holmes added: "We came out all guns blazing, really positive.
"We have worked hard this week. We were on a winless run that the lads wanted to turn round, even though we hadn't been playing that poorly.
"We just had to stick to our principles and beliefs and grind things out.
"It was about character and heart and everything we asked for today, the lads delivered and more.
"It's really pleasing to bounce back like that though we know the type of player we have in that dressing room.
"And look at the quality we had in depth today with the
players that we had missing.
"Our manager, knowing Chris Wilder well, is very complimentary of Oxford. They have good backing and wish them all the best.
"It's a long season and we look forward to going toe to toe with them down there later in the season.
"Now it is important we kick on and beat Hayes and Yeading on Saturday though we will give them the respect they deserve as they are in this division because they have good players. We will go about it in the right manner."
Chris Wilder, once a target for the Stags managerial hot seat, was magnanimous in defeat and said: "The unbeaten run had to go sometime and tonight we were beaten by a good side that started better than us, started quicker than us and took their chances.
"I have no complaints – that's how it goes. But I am proud of my players and the way we reacted after going 2-0 down was first class.
"In a perverse way I was more encouraged and more pleased tonight than on Saturday (a 4-0 win over Eastbourne) as tonight we played against a proper side.
"Mansfield are a good side and they have players like Daryl Clare and Blair Sturrock on the bench. They are a big club and will definitely be up and around it at the end of the season.
"We dominated after the first 25 minutes and created chances. My players went to the end and showed the desire that tells me we can go a long way in this league."
Stags are now seventh but level on points with the fifth placed side in the play-off spots.
Williams: Stags win reward for tenacity
Evening Post, September 23, 2009
RYAN Williams said Mansfield's victory over previously unbeaten Oxford was a triumph for tenacity and self-belief.
The Stags were determined to hit back from three defeats on the bounce and did so in style with first half goals from Williams – his first of the season – and Jake Speight.
"It was a fantastic victory and we showed a lot of guts," he said.
"The doubters were there but we have bounced back how we know we can, which has come from sticking together and hard work.
"It has not just come from the lads who played tonight, but everyone who has been involved.
"It is a long road ahead and we know this is only three points, but it has put us back on the right road.
"But we can't lower our standards now and slip up against Hayes and Yeading. We have to keep the same positive attitude."
Oxford boss Chris Wilder was magnanimous in defeat. He said: "The unbeaten record had to go some time. We were beaten by a good side who started better than us, were quicker than us and took their chances.
"But I am still proud of the players. The way they bounced back after going 2-0 down was first class.
"They are a big club who will definitely be up and around it at the end of the season."
Armstrong plays through pain barrier
Evening Post, September 24, 2009
CRAIG Armstrong will continue to put himself through the pain barrier if it means Mansfield can climb up the Blue Square Premier table.
The left-back has been regularly seeing a chiropractor because of a recurring hamstring injury which is aggravated by any impact on his back.
The experienced campaigner was far from being 100% fit in Tuesday's 2-1 win over league leaders Oxford United.
But Armstrong is prepared to put his body on the line if it means helping the team out while Paul Heckingbottom gets back to match fitness.
"I was nowhere near fully fit against Oxford and I'm still not too sure exactly what the problem is," he said.
"All you want to do is play in games and give your best and it was frustrating because I couldn't open up into the full sprint.
"I was just pleased that playing against such a flyer (as Matt Green), his crosses kept going behind the goal.
"I told the gaffer I wanted to play and I would give everything but the final decision was with him.
"To play and be part of that win was fantastic and now it's a case of hoping the problem will drop out with rest and recovery.
"It is not ideal because I love to train but if it means I can keep getting out on the pitch and playing then I'll do it."
Mansfield almost gave up a 2-0 lead against United as Mark Creighton hit the bar in the closing stages with a close range header.
But Armstrong felt that was the stroke of luck that the Stags have been lacking.
He said: "Oxford were a good side and you have to give them credit but I wouldn't say it was totally backs against the wall from us.
"We rode our luck at times, but maybe that's what we needed when you look what happened at Rushden (where Mansfield conceded a deflected injury time winner).
"Yes, we were stretched in the second half but you can't press for the entire 90 minutes and were we outstanding in the first when we could have gone 3-0 or 4-0 up."
Garner: Bring the games on!
Evening Post, September 26, 2009
SCOTT Garner today brushed off Mansfield's hectic fixture schedule, insisting: "I'd love to play every midweek."
By the time the Stags play Forest Green a week today, they will have played 15 Blue Square Premier matches since the start of the season.
By comparison, Forest and Notts County will have played 11 league games each.
But central defender Garner has no problem with the games coming thick and fast.
"There have been a lot of games early on, no doubt, but I don't mind it at all," he said.
"If anything, I prefer it. I think most players prefer playing to training.
"If you have lost a game on a Saturday it means you don't have to mope around for long like you would if you don't play all week.
"And if you've won and you are in good form you can't wait for the next game – in fact, you want to play every day!
"The other thing is that after the game at Barrow on Tuesday, we then have a break from midweek games for two or three weeks.
"That will give us a bit of a break and allow us to work on a few things in training."
Mansfield claimed their first win in six games against Oxford on Tuesday night.
And Garner believes they can build on that against Hayes and Yeading at Field Mill.
"There is always pressure on us to win matches, especially when we are at home and we don't mind that because we put pressure on ourselves," said Garner.
"It was a tremendous boost for us to beat Oxford because it sent out a message to the rest out of the division that we are still contenders."
Relief for Stags players and supporters
Evening Post, September 26, 2009
TUESDAY night's tangible sense of relief at a first Mansfield Town win in six was not merely confined to the stands, nor the home dug-out.
The way the players celebrated as the final whistle blew after the win against Oxford suggested it was a significant weight off their minds too.
After a blazing start to the season, things suddenly went off the boil for the Stags most unexpectedly.
Four wins in a row against Salisbury, Barrow, Ebbsfleet, and Chester put Mansfield in a position to challenge for to spot.
However, five games without victory followed, including three reverses in a row against Kidderminster, Stevenage and Rushden.
Even so, it was not as if there was one, patently obvious problem that needed solving. There was no glaring defect that was costing Mansfield dearly.
What was clear was that the team's performances, Kidderminster aside, were not disastrous.
Unlike during their disappearance of form of 12 months ago, the Stags were still looking a capable side and creating chances.
And, as such, patience was always going to be the key in their bid to turn things around.
Things finally came right against the league leaders, propelling the Stags back up to seventh place.
And left-back Craig Armstrong, who battled through against the Us despite not being fully fit because of a hamstring injury, believes the three points was no more than Mansfield deserved.
"It was great to get back to winning ways," he said. "It is disappointing to lose any game but to lose one and then another and then another made it even worse.
"To go five games without a win after winning four games is a row was also very frustrating.
"When you look at the games there was only the Kidderminster game where we really didn't play very well.
"Against Stevenage, we could have been 4-0 up and it could have been 4-4 at the end.
"We were very lucky not to be trailing in the first half at Rushden, but for the second half we were the much better side and it was hard to take to lose to such a freak late goal.
"The good thing was the boys kept the faith and didn't doubt themselves when they could have lost confidence.
"Then we came out and beat a team who had won nine and drawn two of their games and not conceded in their previous six."
Had Oxford beaten the Stags, the former League Cup winners would have been a full 15 points clear of them in the Blue Square Premier table.
But now, following Mansfield's 2-1 win, that gap has been reduced to nine.
Armstrong said: "I think Oxford will be way up there and they showed their ability in midweek against us.
"Kyle Nix and Matt Somner were magnificent in midfield for us and Louis Briscoe was a real workhorse.
"When you have got good players like that, then you always have a chance.
"I still believe we have got enough to catch Oxford ourselves, but that is up to us.
"To do that there is going to have to be a lot of hard work and we have to keep believing."
Armstrong feels one of the things in Mansfield's favour is the players they will soon have returning.
Kyle Perry and skipper Gary Mills will soon be back from suspension, the former as soon as Tuesday's trip to Barrow.
Luke Jones (ankle) and Paul Heckingbottom (hamstring) are also out injured.
"We still have a lot of strength to come back into the side when people have served their bans and get fit," said Armstrong.
"The games will keep coming and we will be better for that strength in the long run because, as we have seen, every one of the squad can perform."
Oxford United boss so proud despite defeat
Oxford Mail, By Jon Murray
Chris Wilder said he was proud of his players as they showed what they are really made of – despite going down to their first defeat of the season.
The U's were beaten 2-1 at Mansfield, to lose for the first time away in the calendar year, and for the first time on any ground this campaign.
But United's manager said he got more encouragement from the fighting qualities they showed in trying to haul themselves back after conceding twice in the first half, than from last weekend's all-too-easy 4-0 win over Eastbourne.
“The unbeaten record had to go some time, but I think we've been beaten by a good team tonight," Wilder said after the match.
“They started better than us, quicker than us, and took their chances.
“But I've got to say I'm proud of my players, their reaction when they went 2-0 down was first-class.
“And I've said to them that, in a perverse sort of way – and some people may find this a little bit stupid – but I got more pleasure from them tonight than I did from them on Saturday because Mansfield are a good side.
“They had Daryl Clare and Blair Sturrock on the bench, it's a strong club with a good manager. They will definitely be in and around it. They've had their bad run, and they showed they wanted to get back on track.
“But I've got to say, after 25 minutes to half an hour, we dominated procedings. We pushed them back, we passed the ball well and we created chances.
“Yes, we were a little bit open at the back which made us open for the counter, but my players showed the desire that I think shows we can still go a long way in this league.
“They started better than us. We've got to start sharper and quicker.”
It has been a remarkable away run, Oxford last tasting defeat on the road back in 2008 at Salisbury on Boxing Day.
The U's still lead the table by seven points, ahead of another long trip north, to Gateshead, on Saturday.
Latest | September 2009