HOLDSWORTH,BRISCOE,BROUGH AND LEE HARPER REACTION
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Top five is tough ask now
By Jon Dunham
Lee Harper concedes it will be "difficult" for Kettering Town to claim a Blue Square Premier play-off place.
The Poppies produced a much-improved display as substitute Pascal Ebigbo hit an equaliser to seal a deserved 2-2 draw with Mansfield Town – although the stalemate did little for either sides' hopes of chasing down the top five.
Harper insists his ADVERTISEMENTside aren't finished just yet but he knows only a first-ever home league victory over local rivals Rushden & Diamonds will do when the two sides face off tomorrow night.
"It's going to be difficult but it makes the next game even more important," Harper said.
"If we want to do anything we will have to beat Rushden tomorrow night because they are one of the teams we are trying to catch.
"On reflection, if all has been lost then it was done with those defeats to Altrincham and Forest Green.
"But our supporters would probably take a win tomorrow and be happy because that's how important it is to them.
"I am just hoping the lads go out there and give it everything they have got. Not just for the fans but for themselves.
"It's definitely not mathematically impossible for us and we have to go for it.
"We will keep going and try to put in a positive performance tomorrow and see if it can bring us a positive result."
Harper had mixed feelings after the draw with the Stags as poor defending allowed the visitors to go 2-1 up.
But the Poppies boss was delighted with his side's commitment after that shocking home defeat to Forest Green.
"We came in at half-time disappointed that we gave away two poor goals from a defensive point of view," he added.
"But no-one can question the lads after that performance. When you see Ian Roper charging down the wing in the second minute of stoppage-time trying to win the game then I think that says it all.
"Mansfield are a good team and we knew we were going to be in a game.
"In the end, we probably have to be happy with a point."
Holdsworth stunned by late equaliser
CHAD, co.uk, 27 March 2010, By John Lomas
DISAPPOINTED Stags boss David Holdsworth had high praise for his players, despite two more crucial play-off points being lost to a late equaliser in today's 2-2 draw at Kettering Town.
"The players gave their all and the game should have been over by half-time," he said.
"We played very well but again little moments have cost us.
"We had so many opportunities, the game should have been put to bed by half-time.
"You have to give Kettering credit for keeping going. They threw caution to the wind as they are chasing something and went hell for leather and got numbers up there.
"They are a big side physically and we were under threat from corners which we defended well.
"Overall we defended very well so I can't criticise my players."
He added: "It has been a rather long week and there were some tired legs out there.
"We came here to win it, as we do every game, and our record on the road has been good."
In the end Stags were stung by Pascal Ebigbo's late equaliser when the ball bobbled past the Stags' defenders straight to him.
"You can't do anything about the bobble for the goal and my defenders are really hurting. There were a lot of dejected faces in there at the end," said Holdsworth.
"It was a bitter pill to swallow as I thought we performed excellently and created opportunities though maybe we didn't work their keeper enough.
"But we still had enough chances to win three or four games. Football has this habit of kicking you.
"Games are running out and we need to turn these draws into three points. But we are learning a lot about this league this season and about the mettle you need to show."
After the match Holdsworth was initially incensed by referee Darren Drysdale's refusal to give a penalty when Louis Briscoe went down under a challenge from Ian Roper, but Briscoe later confirmed he had stumbled and it wasn't a spot kick.
Defender Michael Brough added: We didn't get what we deserved today.
"We performed really well, but at this stage of the season you would take a bad performance and a win.
"We have still got to be better at the back and more switched on. The ball evaded me at the near post for their equaliser and I should have maybe done better.
"But by then we should have had the game out of sight.
"We have to keep doing our best in case people above us slip up. You have to keep believing it is possible while it is still mathematically possible. We want to be in that top five and you never know in football."
Briscoe holds his hands up
Monday, March 29, 2010
LOUIS Briscoe held his hand up after Mansfield's 2-2 draw with Kettering and admitted: "I missed the chances to kill them off."
The Stags looked in control at 2-1 up at the break and created a number of openings at the start of the second period.
Briscoe believes he was the biggest culprit and the Stags were made to pay when substitute Pascal Ebigbo grabbed a late equaliser for the Poppies.
"It was a battle, a tough game but we have probably had more chances in it," he said. "I missed two or three myself, which was disappointing.
"We could have put the game out of sight to make sure they had no chance of getting back in it, which they did through a late equaliser.
"Mazza (Alan Marriott) and Silky (Gary Silk) did well between them to stop them getting it back to 2-2 before that, but we could and should have had a third.
"They were not even half chances either, they were good chances that we should be putting away.
"I suppose we just have to get back on the training ground and work even harder on our shooting."
Briscoe confirmed he had not been fouled by home keeper Nathan Abbey when he burst into the box from a Sturrock pass.
Mansfield boss David Holdsworth had felt his player should have been awarded a penalty.
But the former Port Vale man said: "It was not a penalty, but at the same time it was not a dive either.
"What happened was that I took the ball round the keeper and went to score with my left but missed it and then lost my footing.
"I apologised straight away to the referee and also to the keeper and I explained what had happened."
Briscoe felt there were a lot of good individual performances from the Mansfield players.
"We made the pitch wide, which was our aim, with Andy Burgess and myself getting out on the wings," he said. "In the middle Pezza (Kyle Perry) had a good game and so too did Blair Sturrock.
"At home, teams come to play us with a game plan and make it very difficult for us by packing the midfield.
"We like to play football as much as we can, but sometimes it can be easier in away games."
Stags must be more ruthless
Monday, March 29, 2010
MANSFIELD Town must be more ruthless if they are to become one of the very best sides in the Blue Square Premier.
That's the view of manager David Holdsworth after his troops were held to a 2-2 draw by Kettering at Rockingham Road.
The Stags looked set to claim their tenth away victory of the season and a welcome three points after goals from Jon Challinor and Blair Sturrock saw them hit back from Jean-Paul Marna's earlier opener.
But the Stags' day was spoilt by a leveller three minutes from the end of normal time.
Holdsworth was understandably pleased with his team's performance, but insists the difference between them and the likes of Stevenage and Luton is their inability to make games safe and see them out.
"It is not the physical condition, but the mentality of the players. It's having the ability to know when to row Z it and when to show a bit of composure," he said.
"I feel we had that at times against Kettering, but I still want more because we haven't achieved our aims yet.
"We have to have a ruthless streak about us, which all the best teams have got.
"It's about having a never-say-die attitude, being organised and taking the chances that come your way.
"We have been working hard on creating opportunities, which we didn't get in midweek when Altrincham shut up shop.
"But we didn't work the keeper enough against Kettering when we had the chances to win.
"We defended very well for the majority of the game but when you haven't put the game to bed, one moment can cost you."
Mansfield continued to pass the ball freely as they had done in the previous two games with Histon and Altrincham.
And Holdsworth was pleased by what he saw. He said: "It was a disappointing result because we came here to get all three points.
"But I can't criticise the players, they worked really hard after a long week and played some good stuff.
"We tried to get the ball down and play against a physical side, which is a legacy from when Mark Cooper was there.
"I'm always positive and they can take a lot of credit from that. I felt once it was 2-1 we would go on to win. It should have been all over by half-time.
"But you have to give some credit to Kettering because they kept on fighting until the end. They have thrown caution to the wind and chased the game."
A number of Mansfield players see their deals run out this summer, but he is adamant every one of them is on trial, regardless of their personal situation.
"People should be under no illusions that I am judging the players between now and the end of the season – and they know that," said Holdsworth.
"If they are not under contract at the end of the season then they are playing for one. Even if they are, they have to show they deserve to keep it.
"I'm not going to put up with players who are mentally not up to it."
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