David Holdsworth video interview --->
Alan Marriott and Luke Foster video interviews --->
Holdsworth: Stags no long-ball team
DAVID Holdsworth insists those who label his Mansfield Town team as nothing but long-ball merchants are being unfair.
The Stags host Tamworth today looking to boost their Blue Square Premier play-off hopes by making it five games unbeaten.
After winning 4-2 at the New Lamb in February, Mansfield are looking to complete a league double over Gary Mills' men.
And Holdsworth says if they do it will be as much down to good football as direct tactics.
"People think because of the long throws we use, we go long all the time, but we didn't go long for the four goals we scored against Salisbury – they were all from open play," he said.
"We encourage our full backs to get on the ball and for our midfielders to link up with the strikers, as they did for our first goal last week.
"Of course, if the long throw is good enough for Tony Pulis at Stoke and Chelsea in the Premier League then it is good enough for us.
"But it is just one aspect of play that can help us. We still encourage the wingers to take on their men and get crosses in.
"There are other sides in this league that all play it longer because they have got willing runners to chase it.
"I think only people that don't know the game and don't watch it would say we are a long ball team."
Holdsworth is also calling on the Football Conference to clarify the position of Kettering Town.
It was originally thought the Poppies would not be able to enter the play-offs, even if they made the top five, because they do not own their ground or have a minimum ten-year lease.
But they are now making noises that they can secure such a deal before the end of the season.
Holdsworth said: "In the next six weeks there is going to be a huge amount of nerves and it would be better if people knew where they stood.
"And that is down to the league."
Stags' Foster ready to tackle Tamworth
LUKE Foster is quietly confident Mansfield Town can complete a league double over Tamworth – and make it five games unbeaten.
The Stags captain feels belief in the camp is growing after victory at the Lamb last month and a win over Salisbury last weekend has sandwiched draws with Hayes and Yeading and Luton.
Foster knows a win over Gary Mills' men would set up the Stags perfectly for Tuesday night's home showdown with fellow Blue Square Premier play-off hopefuls York City.
"We are on a nice run and we are looking pretty good, but we just have to keep focussing on ourselves," he said. "There is a bit of confidence about the team.
"We conceded two goals from deflections last week against Salisbury, but we have also scored four goals.
"We won a lot of second balls last week and got in people's faces and we have to do that again against Tamworth.
"We beat them comfortably at their place and they are not on the best of runs but that does not mean we will take it for granted.
"But if we can play at the right tempo at home there aren't many teams who can stand up to it."
Marriott out to break play-off duck with Stags
ALAN Marriott knows a thing or two about reaching the play-offs – if not winning them.
For five consecutive seasons between 2002-03 and 2006-07, the goalkeeper made it through to the end-of-season showdown as part of a talented Lincoln City squad.
Twice he had the honour of playing at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, where just one game stood between the Imps and promotion to League One from League Two.
But it never happened for Marriott and Lincoln as they remained in the Football League's basement division.
Mansfield still have a way to go yet if they are to even figure in this season's Blue Square Premier play-offs, as the finale to the season approaches on the horizon.
With 11 games left, they are fighting it out with the likes of Rushden, Luton, Kettering, York and AFC Wimbledon for a place in the top five.
But despite what has transpired in the past, Marriott is still keen to pits his wits in games that are played out in a pressure-cooker atmosphere.
And, of course, the ambition of sealing a much sought-after promotion still burns bright.
"We have got a good mixture of everything in our squad, so we do have the credentials to make the play-offs and compete in them," said Marriott.
"We have got experienced players like Ryan Williams and myself who have been there and done it before.
"Those games can be a carnival atmosphere and it is important for players to keep their heads and not get carried away.
"It's a fantastic buzz for players and also a stage where they can impress and earn moves to a higher level if they play well.
"They are one-off games and anything can happen in them, although I think some of the lads think I'm a bad luck omen after what's happened to me in the past!
"Some of the players might not have experienced it yet, but it is what every player is in the game for – to play in those big matches.
"But there is still a long way to go before we can even contemplate that because we have a lot of hard work to do just to get into the play-offs.
"It's certainly all to play for now."
Mansfield's position in the table has been severely affected this week following the expunging of Chester City's record after they were kicked out of the league and then wound up in the High Court.
The Stags were two points off the play-off spots until their points tally was reduced by six after 1-0 and 4-0 wins over the Blues were deleted.
It took them from two points off the play-off places to six through no fault of their own.
Even so, Marriott is still disappointed the Stags are not higher up the table.
He said: "At the start of the season I wouldn't have been happy with the position we are in.
"I would have said with the squad we have we should have been in the play-offs.
"We have contributed to our own downfall by being a bit sloppy in games away from home.
"But sometimes it's good to come out of nowhere and make a late challenge.
"It can make you feel confident and indestructible."
Another frustration for Marriott has been his lack of clean sheets.
He had hoped for a ratio of 50 per cent over the course of this season, but has kept just one since the turn of the year – a 0-0 home draw with Luton.
"When I first came to the club last season I prided myself on clean sheets, so this season has been very disappointing," said Marriott.
"If you can keep teams out it puts down a benchmark and shows teams they are going to have to work hard to score against you.
"We've been a bit unlucky recently at the back, but I'm looking now to finish the season on a high."
Tamworth travel to Field Mill today having already won 2-0 there in the FA Trophy.
Marriott said: "I've been quite impressed with them. (Tom Shaw) is a good player and Iyseden Christie has shown he can be a handful.
"They are not a team to underestimate. But if we have play-off aspirations, these are the games we need to win."
Team news: Speight still 50/50
Thu 11 Mar 2010
Both Oliver Hotchkiss and Luke Jones are set to this miss out on Saturday's fixture with Tamworth.
Midfielder Hotchkiss is still out with a persistent ankle injury whilst centre half Luke Jones is expected to be sidelined for at least another fortnight after suffering ligament damage.
Jake Speight might be in contention for a place in the squad after undergoing a knee operation but David Holdsworth may opt to rest him for another week.
Speaking from the John Fretwell Sporting Complex this morning, David Holdsworth said that the squad were raring to go and do battle with the Lambs after scoring four goals against Salisbury last week. He asked the fans to show the same impressive level of support that the team enjoyed last weekend and singled out winger Louis Briscoe, who set up two of last weekend's goals, to have another lively game.
"We are looking to recreate those chances and the players have a sping in their step," he said.
"But last week is gone and I've got a lot of respect for Gary Mills (Tamworth boss). They have developed a good squad down there.
"We have to be enthusiastic and I want that singing section in the West Stand in full voice. Come Saturday I want everyone to raise their voices and cheer the lads on.
"Midfield is an area we have to address as they have some talented players there, but, if Louis Briscoe plays like he did last week then we will be difficult to play against."
The Gaffer also called on the Football League to state its position on Kettering who are currently in fifth place but do not satisfy the entry criteria of ownership or a lease of at least 10 years on their ground Rockingham Road should they qualify for the play offs. With their potential fate unknown, there are still question marks over how the end-of-season play offs will operate and whether, perhaps, the sixth place club would take the Northamptonshire club's place instead.
He added "The Football League need to clarify this as a number of clubs are asking that question. We need to know as in the next few weeks there will be alot of nerves and it would be alot better if people knew about it."
Finally, with the West Stand due to be renamed after legendary former manager Ian Greaves prior to kick off this weekend, the current boss was full of praise for the idea and said that it was a fitting gesture to commemorate his memory and the achievement of leading us to Wembley for the only time in our history.
"First and foremost it's a wonderful gesture and a very fitting gesture. It will be a wonderful occasion for his family and the fans to celebrate a great man."
Defender Luke Foster looks for Mansfield aggression
audio interview ---> http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/m/mansfield_town/8564566.stm?
Mansfield Town captain Luke Foster says he is trying to get the Stags strikers to show more aggression on matchdays.
The 24-year-old has worn the armband since moving to Field Mill in January.
The defender told BBC Radio Nottingham: "You've either got the aggression streak or you haven't and if you haven't there's no point forcing it.
"When I give them (the strikers) a kick in training it perks them up a little bit and they give me a bit back, and that makes a difference on a Saturday."
Foster believes the physical side to football is more prominent in the Blue Square Premier.
He said: "Sometimes you've got to be tough and aggressive because there are some big strong strikers in this league.
"You've got to make sure you dominate them and make sure you stamp your authority on the game.
"It's a big part of the game in this league."
Former favourite Christie looks to shoot down Stags
Friday, March 12, 2010
FORMER Mansfield Town favourite Iyseden Christie is determined to shoot down his old club tomorrow – just as he did when Tamworth visited Field Mill.
The striker opened the scoring in his first game back on his old stomping ground to help the Lambs to a 2-0 FA Trophy victory in December.
This time the man who scored more than 50 goals for the Stags in two spells between 1997 and 2004 comes to Notts in search of league points.
Like Mansfield, Tamworth have been severely affected by Chester City's expulsion from the Blue Square Premier, having beaten them twice.
It means Christie and his team-mates have been dragged into a relegation battle and a win over David Holdsworth's men would ease those worries.
"The last time I played at Mansfield before Christmas sticks is my mind because I managed to score and we won," said Christie.
"I did quite well during my time at Mansfield and, apart from a few fans, I got a good reception from them.
"Hopefully that will be the same this time because I had a good time there and I'm looking forward to it.
"If we could win the game it would be a massive result for us. We have gone from being nine points clear of the relegation zone to just three with what's happened to Chester.
"I'm not going to say I'm going to score again and I'm not as bothered about that as when I was younger.
"I just want the team to do well and I will be happy if that happens."
Christie, 33, believes Mansfield have put together a side capable of clinching a play-off spot.
He said: "It is a blow to lose points as we know only too well, but Mansfield have a decent side.
"They play to their strengths and have some good players so there is no reason why they can't put together a good run and get into the top five. But I'm hoping that if they do well it is only after their game with us."
Speight out to be Stags' secret weapon
Friday, March 12, 2010
MANSFIELD Town hope to have their very own secret weapon in the closing weeks of the season – in the shape of the explosive Jake Speight.
After being sidelined since early February, the 24-year-old is desperate to fire for the Stags in the closing weeks of the Blue Square Premier campaign.
With 11 games to go – a quarter of the season – he is hoping to put a frustrating knee injury behind him and slip under the radar with a glut of goals.
The first target in his sights are tomorrow's visitors to Field Mill, Tamworth, if boss David Holdworth deems him fit enough.
He will be hoping for at least a place in the 16-strong squad for the clash with the Lambs, even though it is touch and go.
"I would say I'm just about there now," he said. "I have done sessions for six days straight, in between resting, to get back.
"I have been travelling in on my own some days to do extra work, but I suppose that shows how much I want to get back.
"I wanted to be available for the manager because I know he might need to call on me in the next few weeks.
"The fact we are coming off a 4-2 win and we won at Tamworth 4-2 the last time we played them gives us confidence.
"We have to be going into the game feeling we can win it. We've won our last game and got a good draw against a very good Luton side before that."
It all seemed to be going so well for Speight either side of Christmas as he grabbed five goals in six games.
But just as he was really getting into his stride, the former Droylsden man had to go under the surgeon's knife.
Speight said: "I did the injury at Forest Green at home in the FA Cup (in November). I could have had it done there and then and been out for six weeks.
"I played on through the pain for a while and I was hoping to get through until the end of the season.
"But it just got too much in the end, the knee was causing me a lot of discomfort every game.
"It was hard to come out of the team when I was doing quite well and getting a few goals.
"I played in the Gateshead match and didn't feel myself at all and before the Stevenage game it went completely. I knew then I had to get it done because I couldn't carry on going from one week to the next, not being able to train.
"But I was straight back in the gym three days after the operation and it's great to be on the way back."
Overall, Speight assesses his first season at Mansfield to date as a successful one.
"I always felt confident that I could prove myself. I just needed the games and needed to prove it to the gaffer," he said.
"I'm really pleased with ten goals from the games I've played.
"In my eyes I should be playing every game when I'm fit, but all players would say the same and it's down to the manager."
Speight has no doubts about what is likely to make or break Mansfield's season as they push for a play-off spot.
He said: "York and Rushden are key games for us – there is no getting away from that.
"They are six-pointers whichever way you look at them because we are in a mini-league with those teams around us and we are looking to take their place in the play-off spots.
"There are other important games as well, but they are going to be crucial."
Speight is out to ensure he's the one to make the difference.
Lambs must be up for the battle
Friday, March 12, 2010
SUSPENDED Tamworth skipper Chris Smith says the Lambs must show they are up for the fight as they head to Mansfield Town on Saturday.
The Lambs are desperate for points after the reshaped Conference table brought home their new predicament.
On the back of two 1-0 defeats – to Rushden and Histon this week – and having now lost the six points they won against Chester City, the Lambs sit just five points the drop zone.
It means they are desperate for a win as they travel to Field Mill, before entertaining Oxford United next Sunday.
Smith (left) will miss both games after picking up a yellow card at Histon but he is determined to rally the troops.
He said: "We are in a battle now, no question, and there are six or seven teams who could go down.
"I think we feel hard done by having lost the points but we have to get on with it now.
"The battle is on and we know we are in a fight.
"I have been in a relegation battle before with York City and went down from the league but this squad has more quality in it.
"I think when you are in this situation you have to get the basics right.
"We have got to work harder than our opponents and we have got to want it more. If we do that, then the quality will come through."
Smith admitted he is gutted to be missing the next two games but will do his best to inspire the team.
He added: "Personally I am gutted to be missing out, especially because of the nature of my yellow card against Histon.
"There was a melee and, as captain, I went to calm the situation down. I got grabbed and then found myself on the receiving end of a booking.
"It means I miss two massive games and that's hard to take. I won't be playing but I'll do my bit to gee the lads up.
"And in training, I will work hard. We all know that if you work hard in training, you play hard on the pitch.
"We have ten huge games now and we just have to stay together. A lot can, and no doubt will, still happen between now and the end of the season.
"Most teams have something to play for, be it promotion or avoiding relegation. As I say, it's a battle till the end."
The Lambs have further selection problems going into the game with Nick Wright (foot) still side-lined and Michael Blackwood (knee) doubtful.
Meanwhile, reflecting on back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Rushden and Histon, Lambs assistant manager Darron Gee said: "Both games were very similar in that we had chances but didn't take them and gave away sloppy goals.
"But this set of lads are trying desperately hard for the club and they are giving everything they can.
"It's going to be a scrap to stay in this division, we know that."
Lambs bring in Nottingham Forest defender ahead of Mansfield Town clash
Friday, March 12, 2010
TAMWORTH have signed former Nottingham Forest central defender Aaron Mitchell to their squad.
The 20-year-old began the season on the books at Forest but his contract was cancelled in January.
He has since had a brief spell with Burton Albion but only made a reserve team appearance.
The towering central defender featured regularly in Forest manager Billy Davies' plans during pre-season and was known as 'Crouchy' at the City Ground.
His arrival is a massive boost for Lambs boss Gary Mills with Chris Smith out for suspension for the next two games.
Michael Blackwood is also sidelined due to the injury so Mitchell is expected to start at Mansfield Town tomorrow.
Stags happy with midweek results
CHAD.co.uk, 11 March 2010, By John Lomas
AFTER some topsy-turvey results elsewhere this week Stags go into Saturday's vital home clash with Tamworth (3pm) knowing they are six points adrift of the play-offs with a game in hand on fifth-placed Kettering Town.
"Sometimes you can play your best game when you are not playing and Tuesday was a good night for us numerically," said manager David Holdsworth.
"I had a wry smile at a few of the results.
"I said last week that there will be a few wobbles in the run-in of the last quarter of the season.
"A lot of managers are having to deal with different equations with suspensions and whether bringing in a loan player would benefit them or be disruptive.
"We have had different emotions recently with the Chester points. But the lads have stayed solid and have a spring in their step. And last Saturday was a wonderful result. We are dealing with our emotions very well."
He added: "We will be looking to recreate the chances from last weekend when Tamworth come here on Saturday.
"I have a lot of respect for Gary Mills and he has developed a very good squad there.
"Again patience will be needed. The game will be won over 90 minutes.
"When you see that after losing to us, Salisbury went up to York and won you can recognise what a good performance we gave last weekend.
"Salisbury were on a very successful run, yet we walloped them and gave them a tough day. I must give my players credit as Salisbury are a very strong side.
"We have a real feelgood factor in the dressing room right now.
"We want to hear that singing section in full voice. I hope Tamworth bring a few with them which will make a good atmosphere. We had a great following down there at the Lamb."
With Jon Challinor and Andy Nicolas now hurling in tremendous long throws for the Stags, some fans have accused them of turning into a long ball team and one irate fan threw his season ticket at the manager last weekend.
But Holdsworth said: "The long throws are a great weapon to have. But it doesn't mean we are just going long all the time. All four of our goals last Saturday came from open play and we played well in the second half.
"If the long throw is good enough for Stoke City and Chelsea in the Premiership then it's good enough for us."
Holdsworth was a spectator at York's home defeat by Salisbury on Tuesday ahead of the Minstermen's visit to Field Mill this Tuesday and said; "York are having a tough time of it and the professional thing to do is learn from every game and we look forward to welcoming them to Field Mill."
Although Kettering are still in the chase, question marks remain over the length of their lease at Rockingham Road which could see them refused entry to the play-offs.
They have only three years left and need a minimum of 10 which they are trying hard to extend.
"The Kettering issue needs to be addressed and the league need to clarify the situation," said Holdsworth.
"A lot of clubs are asking the question and we need to know where we all stand. All we can do is concentrate on what we are doing and worry about that as it happens."
Ollie Hotchkiss and Luke Jones are all ruled out with injury for Saturday and Jon Challinor is 50-50, but Jake Speight and Andy Burgess have a chance of being in the 16.
Tamworth are just five points clear of the drop zone and have lost five out of six BSP games, including a 4-2 home reversal against Mansfield on 13th February, though did win by a single goal at Field Mill in an FA Trophy tie late last year.
Prior to Saturday's game, the West Stand will be officially renamed the Ian Greaves Stand, sponsored by Napit and the late Stags boss' family will be present along with members of the Freight Rover Trophy-winning squad.
"It is a wonderful and fitting gesture," said Holdsworth. "The gentleman was hugely respected at this football club.
"It will be a wonderful occasion for his family and the supporters.
"The identity of this football club is everything and people can recognise another piece for the jigsaw which the chairman, board and myself are trying to build."
Foster praise for latest defensive partner
CHAD.co.uk, 11 March 2010, By John Lomas
WITH Luke Jones out injured, Stags skipper Luke Foster paid tribute to new central defensive partner Michael Brough ahead of Saturday's visit of Tamworth.
"I think Michael has done well, especially against Luton.
"It is hard to come on as a defender at any stage of the game. You have no chance to get into it and can't afford to warm-up or have any slip-ups.
"It is nice to see someone come in with as much strength as the next person.
"This is my third centre back partnership in 10 games! But you just have to make the best of the situation and Michael is very capable and a good player."
Foster is looking forward to another home game on Saturday as Stags aim to complete the double over Tamworth and avenge an FA Trophy defeat at Field Mill.
He said: "Tamworth know what we are about after we beat them down there. They beat Oxford so they are not a bad side.
"But we are on a nice run and we are looking good at home. There is a bit of confidence about the team. If we play to our strengths and keep up the tempo it will be too much for most teams."
Stags' Brough eyes Foster partnership
Evening Post, March 11, 2010
MICHAEL Brough is hoping to establish the kind of central defensive partnership with Luke Foster that can lead Mansfield Town to the play-offs.
The Stags have rarely had a settled pairing at the heart of their defence since the turn of the year.
They have kept just one clean sheet in nine games during that time, conceding 15 goals.
Brough and Scott Garner began 2010 together but loss of form, together with injuries and suspensions, has seen four other combinations tried.
The latest saw the former Notts County man picked alongside skipper Foster against Salisbury on Saturday.
Brough is now determined to make the position his own for the rest of the season and, in doing so, help the Stags clinch a place in the top five.
"I have always said that I want to play centre half and feel that is my best position now," said Brough.
"I'm enjoying it and I'm looking to strike up a good relationship with Fozzie.
"We need to start keeping clean sheets regularly, like we did against Luton, and if you play with the same person week in, week out, it helps.
"What has happened to Luke Jones (out with ankle ligament damage) is unfortunate, but it is an opportunity for me and if we can get it right at the back and get on a decent run then getting in the play-offs is still in our hands."
Brough has been impressed with the way Gary Mills has played since coming back into the Mansfield side.
The midfielder looked to be on his way out of Field Mill when he was relieved of the captaincy and made available for loan.
But he was outstanding against Salisbury and Brough added: "If he can continue like that for the rest of the season it will really help us.
"Gary has shown a lot of character. One minute you can be out of the equation and the next back in, but you can only admire how he has performed."
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