FOREST GREEN PREVIEWS
12 August 2010
video interviews with David Holdsworth, Steve Foster and Paul Connor --->
Holdsworth: Fans have to be patient to see Mansfield's best
Evening Post, 13Aug2010
FANS will not see the very best of Mansfield Town in the opening weeks of the season, predicts manager David Holdsworth.
The Stags have made 11 new senior signings and also tied up former youth teamer Niall O'Rafferty on a professional contract.
But, unlike ahead of the 2009-10 campaign, when most of his deals were concluded early in the summer, Holdsworth has had to be patient to secure his targets.
He insists those players have been working hard to mould into his way of working at Field Mill.
But he feels it will take time for them to produce their optimum performances – and may hinder the chances of a repeat of last summer's flying start.
"There's a pressure to perform that comes with the territory we work in – but I like that pressure," said Holdsworth.
"We are trying to put together a new squad that can do the business and they have trained very well and worked hard.
"We are still a long way from where I want us to be in the end because of the timing of the transfers.
"When you bring in people late it is never easy to blend them in with the other players, but we have to deal with the hand we have got at the moment.
"We won't lose it in week one and we won't win it either, just like any other year.
"We have seen that in the Football League, where it has been an interesting start to all the divisions and their have been some interesting results in the midweek cup competition."
Holdsworth knows tomorrow's season opener against Forest Green will pose the Stags some serious questions.
And he acknowledges the investment by successful green energy businessman Dale Vince this week will give them a significant boost.
He said: "It's a healthy situation for Forest Green and it will give them a huge lift.
"There is one manager in the league that is spoilt for choice at the moment (Steve Evans at Crawley) and maybe now there might be another (Dave Hockaday).
"It does bring in a level of uncertainty if they bring in lads before the weekend – if they have got that kind of money.
"It will be an interesting team sheet, but we have got a realistic view of what they have got already and I'm sure they'd say the same about us."
Stonehouse needs no motivating against former team-mates
Evening Post, 13Aug2010
THERE was only one team he was interested in as he scanned down the new fixture list – and it didn't take Paul Stonehouse long to find what he was looking for.
There, at the very top, was the match in question: Mansfield Town v Forest Green Rovers. New club against old.
First games of the campaign always set the pulses racing for managers, players and supporters alike.
But for left-back-cum-left midfielder Stonehouse, it is a match that will bring an extra level of excitement and expectancy as he prepares to line up against his former team-mates.
Just a few months ago, the 23-year-old was doing his best to help Forest Green retain their place in the Blue Square Bet Premier, something they achieved thanks to Salisbury's financial woes rather than their league position.
But now, if called upon amid the healthy scrap for a place in the Stags starting line-up, he will be doing his utmost to ensure Rovers have a miserable trip back down the M5.
"It's a match I've been looking forward to very much, even though it will be a bit weird playing against people I know so well," said Stonehouse.
"I came through the Forest Green youth team and I was there for five years and I got to know every face at the club.
"I'm quite excited, but I certainly don't feel I have anything to prove. The first game is always big, but this just gives you that extra bit of motivation.
"I'm just hoping I can get a place in the side because we have real strength in depth now in every position.
"There is good competition for places, which is a good thing, but it does mean I'm not guaranteed to start."
Stonehouse was offered fresh terms at the New Lawn but was tempted north by Mansfield's ambition of getting back in the Football League.
He has settled in quickly after signing a one-year deal and Stonehouse said: "We played Mansfield quite a few times last season (including twice in the FA Cup) and I was impressed with them every time.
"I came to Field Mill with the bigger ground and more fans and liked the atmosphere. It's a big club who want to do well and it felt like the right time to move on for my career.
"You get comfortable at a club if you are there for a long time and staying can be the easy option.
"But I want to progress and sometimes to do that you have to move out of your comfort zone."
Forest Green are set to feature former Stags Luke Jones and Craig Armstrong, who will be able to give an insight into how Mansfield play.
But Stonehouse points out he and fellow ex-Rover Mark Preece will be able to do the same thing for the Stags.
"The manager has had them watched and he will know plenty about a lot of their players anyway," said Stonehouse.
"But I'm sure we'll be able to provide him with some extra little details."
Stonehouse has been used in three different positions during pre-season and is still to discover his primary role.
He said: "The most important thing is to be in the side.
"Last season I played at left-back pretty much all season, so that's probably where I'm most comfortable.
"But if the manager wants me to play further forward in midfield I'm happy with that.
"It gives me the chance to attack and that's one of the best points of my game, even when I play left-back."
Connor: Stags have the firepower up front to stay in the hunt
Evening Post, 13Aug2010
HITMAN Paul Connor is quietly confident Mansfield Town's forward line can score enough goals to keep them in the hunt for a play-off place.
The Stags finished ninth in the Blue Square Bet Premier last season, despite conceding 60 goals.
That was largely down to their firepower which saw them net the third best total of 69 – plus five more in two expunged games against Chester.
Mansfield's options up front changed radically over the summer with Jake Speight and Kyle Perry leaving as Connor, Keigan Parker and Luke Medley arrived.
But the 31-year-old – who has scored five goals in four games in pre-season – feels the Stags can still be potent in attack.
"If a forward is not scoring goals then they are not happy," said Connor.
"Scoring goals is what strikers are brought in to do and there is expectation on them. There is a lot of good competition, which should help. You can't just relax and expect to get in the side and when you do get a chance, you have to take it."
Connor has yet to play at Field Mill for Mansfield, having played his four friendly matches away.
But he is hopeful of a warm welcome as Mansfield host Forest Green Rovers tomorrow.
He said: "It helps if the fans get behind you – and so far the fans have been fantastic."
Spotlight on Mansfield Town v Forest Green Rovers
Evening Post, 13Aug2010
Mansfield (from): Marriott, Collett, Silk, Preece, C. Smith, Foster, Naylor, Sandwith, Briscoe, A. Smith, Cain, Mills, Somner, Nix, Thompson, Stonehouse, Williams, Connor, Parker, Medley, Gregory.
Forest Green (from): Bittner, Hodgkiss, Jones, Ayres, Bartlett, L. Smith. Herring, Armstrong, L. Fowler, Dyer, Styche, Henry, Davies, M. Fowler, Else, Winter, Carlin.
Team news: Mansfield hope Alan Marriott (stomach) and Gary Silk (hamstring) will shake off injuries to be available.
Rob Duffy is definitely out as he continues his recovery from an appendix operation. Mark Preece is unlikely to be involved because of a calf injury while Matt Somner is battling a sickness bug.
Team news: Green's Jared Hodgkiss is expected to play, despite a knee problem.
But the game is likely to come too soon for Mike Fowler (broken ankle) to start, although he could figure on the bench.
One to watch: Luke Jones.
Released by Mansfield at the end of last season, the central defender will be out to prove the Stags wrong.
Manager: David Hockaday.
The former Blackpool and Swindon right-back was first appointed as boss in September 2009 and was handed a new contract in the summer.
Foster determined to make his mark at Stags
Evening Post,12 August 2010
MANSFIELD Town captain Steve Foster today spoke of his determination to help the Stags get off to a flying start to their new season.
The central defender, who signed for the club he supported as a boy and came through the ranks of as a teenager, was appointed skipper on Monday.
He will lead the team out against Forest Green, reprieved from relegation by Salisbury's financial woes, at Field Mill on Saturday for the first game of their 2010-11 campaign.
And even though Rovers have received the boost of fresh investment from green energy businessman Dale Vince, Foster is optimistic of repeating last summer's opening day victory, when Mansfield beat Crawley 4-0.
"There is a lot of expectation to beat Forest Green because we have had a good pre-season and because of the situation they found themselves in over the summer," said Foster.
"But we have scored plenty of goals in pre-season and the front lads have done very well and hopefully we can continue with that.
"As players ,we know that we have got a good squad together and can achieve something.
"I have enjoyed every moment of being back here after keeping an eye on it while I have been away and now we all want to get started."
Foster is expecting Forest Green to be the first of a host of teams this season to come to Mansfield and put players behind the ball, playing on the counter-attack.
He stressed the needs for fans to stick with their team, but believes the Stags have what it takes to unlock opponents during the course of the 90 minutes.
He said: "They will most likely come here and get 11 men behind the ball. That is where we need to be patient.
"We have to perhaps not have to go for the killer ball straight away – we have to draw them out.
"But we have more than enough to do well and have plenty of pace throughout the side, except for me!"
Foster will take great pride in skippering the Stags as they embark on their third season at this level.
"I'm delighted to be given the opportunity to be captain and when the manager asked me I leapt at the chance," he said. "Hopefully I can help the lads to a successful season.
"Even if I hadn't been given it, I would have still been the same. I would have shouted instructions, yelled at players when they'd done something wrong and praised them if they'd done something right."
Stags must work harder than ever- Holdsworth
CHAD.co.uk, 12 August 2010, By John Lomas
DAVID Holdsworth has told his players they must work harder than ever to make an impact on this season's BSBP league which kicks-off with the visit of Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.
"If I was a betting man I would think the odds were stacked against us and we were up against it," he said.
"We know we will have to work harder than ever before but, as a manager, I am not scared of that.
"We have had to be practical and economic which has made for an interesting summer for me.
"You deal with the hand you get and I am very pleased with the personnel I have in the dressing room.
"I have players here still getting used to each other. I am trying to knit together a new squad and couldn't have asked any more from them given the time we have had. Obviously I would have liked to have them in sooner but it wasn't possible.
"I think fans are sensible at times and they can see other clubs with money going for it. I believe outside of the Premier League this is the most competitive league as the reward is so great to get out of it.
"You can see why some clubs throw caution to the wind. We are not in that position but I must applaud our owners who are doing such a good job in tough world.
"People are probably writing Mansfield Town off and knocking us down.
"But I am raring to go and more than happy with the work done so far on the training ground."
Last year Stags spanked Crawley 4-0 in the opening game and he said: "It would be wonderful if we could repeat last year as it was a special day against a tough Crawley side who we ended up doing the double over.
"I am pleased Forest Green have stayed in this league and I like and respect their manager Dave Hockaday.
"I expect them to come here and make it difficult for us so I will be asking for patience."
Apart from striker Rob Duffy, who is still two to three weeks away from starting fitness work, Stags only two absentees for Saturday are Mark Preece (calf strain), who misses out playing against his former club, and Matt Somner (illness).
Paul Stonehouse will be looking forward to an immediate chance to show his old club what they have lost as will ex-Stags Craig Armstrong and Luke Jones in the Rovers ranks.
Following this opener, Stags face a tough trip on Tuesday night to wealthy promoted club Fleetwood Town.
Proud day for skipper Steve
CHAD.co.uk, 12 August 2010, By John Lomas
STEVE Foster admits it will be a proud moment when he leads his home town Stags side out as skipper at Field Mill on Saturday for the first time against Forest Green Rovers.
And the experienced defender said he and the players believe in themselves and expect to be challenging for promotion.
"I know the supporters badly want to be back in the League and the staff and players want it just as bad," he said
"So if we are not up there at the end of the season the lads will be disappointed.
"We know we have got a squad that can achieve something. We know there will be days we will need to show a lot of patience as teams will come here and get men behind the ball. But we know we have more than enough in the side to do well.
"This is a very strong squad and as players we want to be up there and we expect to be up there. Anything less would be a disappointing season.
"We are going into the season very confident on the back of a good pre-season.
"There is a lot of money at some clubs in this league like Luton, Crawley and Grimsby – the top conference clubs are probably in a better situation than some of those in League Two.
"So we know it is going to be a difficult league. But this squad is more than capable of achieving."
Foster began his career with Mansfield and now, at the age of 35, is back in the amber and gold.
He said: "It has been good, I have enjoyed every minute of it. But I am glad the friendlies are over and the season is starting.
"Apart from the last three years I have always been based in Mansfield and I am back here now.
"I am delighted to be given the opportunity as skipper – as soon as the gaffer asked me I jumped at the chance.
"It is something I am proud of and I hope I can lead the lads to a successful season."
Foster is aware that, with Forest Green only given a reprieve in the BSB Premier Division after Salisbury City were expelled, fans will be expecting victory on Saturday.
He said: "There is expectation here after such a good pre-season and with the situation Forest Green have been in. But they will probably have 11 men behind the ball.
"We have to be patient and perhaps not go for the killer ball all the time.
"We need to keep the ball and draw them out."
Connor wants to repay manager's faith
CHAD.co.uk, 12 August 2010, By John Lomas
NEW Stags striker Paul Connor wants to pay back boss David Holdsworth for rescuing him from the soccer scrapheap and giving him a chance to show he can still score goals.
The former Rochdale and Lincoln hit man was worried his career could be over after missing almost all last season with injury and so many players out of work.
He said; "I was injured for most of last season, about seven months in the end.
"Now I want to play with a smile on my face, especially after last season.
"You don't know where your career is going at my age when you are out for that long. You start to fear, especially with football as it is at the moment and more footballers out of contract this summer than at any time before.
"After being out injured so long you wonder if any manager will take a chance on you when budgets are so tight. But the gaffer here has given me a chance and I want to repay him.
""I want to enjoy my football and I know if I can play with a smile on my face then the goals will come."
Connor appears to have settled in well with plenty of pre-season goals and said: "It's gone well. I came here a couple of weeks later than everyone else so I am catching up but I am enjoying it.
"It usually takes about three games to get fully fit and into the swing of things. So there is more to come."
And he spoke of the quiet confidence in the dressing room that this Stags squad could give the bigger cash-laden clubs in the division a good run for their money this season.
"Without shouting anything from the rooftops, we have got a decent squad and, though we know it is going to be hard work, we believe we can do something," he added.
"We don't want to be overconfident because, as soon as we take our foot off the gas, things will start to go wrong. And you need a bit of luck as well.
"Pre-season has gone well but we now need to start doing it in the league fixtures as well."
Stags warned not to dismiss threat from Forest Green
Evening Post, 10 Aug 2010
PAUL Stonehouse today warned his Mansfield Town team-mates they will have it far from easy against old club Forest Green in Saturday's curtain raiser.
The Stags are well fancied to get their Blue Square campaign off to a winning starting against Rovers at Field Mill.
Last season they finished in ninth spot, while Rovers would have been relegated but for Salisbury's financial woes.
But under boss Dave Hockaday, Forest Green have added new signings.
And Stonehouse, who played for the Gloucestershire side before signing a one-year deal at Stags, insists they will pose a threat.
"It would be nice to go out and get the season off to a great start by winning 4-0 as the team did here last year," he said.
"But I think it will be a tight game. They have players (Craig Armstrong and Luke Jones) who have gone there from Mansfield and will want to impress, just as Mark (Preece) and myself want to impress against them."
Striker Luke Medley has signed a six-month deal at Field Mill, while Steve Foster has been named as captain.
Stags boss Holdsworth takes inspiration from Holloway
DAVID Holdsworth is taking inspiration from extrovert Blackpool manager Ian Holloway as he tries to wheel and deal Mansfield Town into a play-off spot.
The Stags boss has been forced to sell star striker Jake Speight this summer, reduce his wage bill and has seen the club's youth team and centre of excellence axed.
But he remains determined to challenge at the top end of the Blue Square Bet Premier this season – and says Holloway is an inspiration.
The former Bristol Rovers player has led the Tangerines into the top flight of English football in May against all the odds on a shoestring budget.
"People outside the club are probably writing us off and knocking us down, but inside the club there is still a picture of where we are going, even if the frame has taken some knocks," said Holdsworth.
"The odds are stacked against us if you were a betting man, but there is a mechanism here that we will put in a lot of hard work. We will probably have to work harder than before, but I am not scared of that.
"I have been blessed with the ability to be pragmatic. You look at Ian Holloway and what he has achieved.
"He is in the Prem now and looking at a different scenario there. But you have to be practical because the club's future is at stake.
"That is what we have done, but I have still been pleased with the players we have brought in."
With parachute payments having now gone and several other clubs throwing money at trying to get promoted, Mansfield are now no longer among the favourites.
Holdsworth added: "The fans are sensible and they know the amount of clubs going for it.
"Outside the Premier League, I think this is the most competitive league because the rewards for getting out of it are so great.
"But I can assure them that the players will be proud to pull on that shirt this season."