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Goalkeeper Marriott keeping faith in his Mansfield Town defenders
THE doom merchants may have already decided Mansfield Town's new-look defence isn't up to the task, but goalkeeper Alan Marriott rightly points out it is too early to make any rash judgements.
It is true that the Stags back-line were all at sea on the coast in losing 3-0 to Fleetwood on Tuesday night.
It is fair to say it was a sloppy goal Mansfield conceded from a set piece in their season-opening 3-1 win over Forest Green last weekend.
And it could also be pointed out that they kept just one clean sheet in seven of their eight official pre-season friendlies – the very first against Sheffield United.
Yet Marriott is not unduly worried and believes things will get better in time, ideally starting at Kidderminster Harriers tomorrow.
"It is very similar to last year when we beat Crawley 4-0 at home and then went to Luton and came back down to earth with a bump," he said.
"We couldn't really complain about Tuesday night. They were worthy winners and they were bad goals that we gave away.
"But it is a new-look back four and I have not played many games with them in pre-season because of injury.
"The more you play together the better understanding you have of the players around you. I had that when I first came here and Adie Moses was in the team because I'd played with him at Lincoln. Individual mistakes are something you can't allow for.
"The one where Steve Foster slipped are freak goals and hopefully we won't have too many of those over the course of the season. It is going to take a while for us all to get used to each other."
Mansfield went with a 4-2-2 formation to start with at Highbury but changed to a 4-3-3 formation in the second half.
Marriott is unsure which manager David Holdsworth will plump for, nor if he will give the same players an opportunity to redeem themselves.
He said: "It is a tough one to call. Sometimes the gaffer has favoured a change and sometimes he likes to keep the faith.
"After our bad performance at Fleetwood I'm glad I don't have to make the decision.
"But most people have something to prove. We have a big squad with probably two players for every position. When people don't play well it is a chance for others."
Marriott was unable to play in several pre-season games with a stomach problem and only returned in the last of those at Alfreton Town.
But he is optimistic he won't need an operation, which could rule him out for three to sixth months.
"They have put it down to a back problem that is causing knock-on effects elsewhere in my body," said Marriott. "I have been given tablets to take and so far they seem to have worked. Fingers crossed I can stay away from the surgeon's knife."
Marriott boost as Stags head for Harriers
CHAD.co.uk, 19 August 2010, By John Lomas
AHEAD of Saturday's tough trip to Kidderminster, there was better news for Stags keeper Alan Marriott after fears he would be sidelined for six months if he needed a stomach operation.
But it now seems the problem could be referred pain from a back problem which is improving with medication.
The Stags stopper said: "It's not too bad now. I have had some second opinions and been to see my local doctor.
"It has been put down to a back problem which was causing knock-on effects elsewhere. But I have been given some tablets which seem to be doing the trick.
"Fingers crossed it will keep me away from the surgeon's knife.
"It was worrying as I had similar pain at Rushden which ended in a groin operation, so I was fearing the worst."
Marriott now prepares to face Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday after a great win followed by a disappointing defeat in the first two games.
"It is a very similar start to last year," he said. "I will never forget beating Crawly 4-0 and, on the crest of a wave, being brought back down the earth with a massive bump at Luton on the Tuesday.
"Fleetwood were worthy winners on Tuesday but we certainly contributed to our own downfall."
Kidderminster also began the season with a great 2-1 win at York City last Saturday only to surprisingly stumble 4-3 at home to new boys Southport in midweek.
Marriott added: "Kidderminster will be desperate to put things right in front of their own fans after losing at home on Tuesday. It is still early and they'll want to give them something to cheer about. So I am sure it will be a tight game.
"We just have to cut out the mistakes at the back and try to keep the ball on the floor.
"At Fleetwood we were up against some giant players. They had a 6ft 4ins centre half with a beer belly – that's their game – but we played into their hands by not keeping the ball down."
Manager David Holdsworth added: "We had 60 per cent of possession on Tuesday, but individual errors costs us the game.
"Fleetwood had four chances and scored three of them. It is not good enough to give away silly goals though they were uncharacteristic mistakes from players who have been reliable throughout their careers.
"Both of them will put it down to a bad day at the office.
"Kidderminster are a new side like us and they have just brought in Williams (Welsh U21 striker Marc) from Wrexham who is a very good player.
"Kidderminster do try to play which is good. It is a nice pitch and we are looking forward to it."
Harriers sweating on injured duo
expressandstar.com, Friday 20th August 2010
Kidderminster Harriers are sweating on the fitness of John Finnigan and Lee Morris ahead of the visit of Mansfield.
Finnigan is the bigger doubt for tomorrow's game as the club are taking no risks with his recovery from a knee injury, with the player short of games in any case after a groin injury that has plagued him for most of the year.
Morris himself is only rated at 50-50 with a hamstring injury.
But Harriers can call upon two strikers who both opened their accounts for the club in midweek, Nick Wright and loan signing Marc Williams both scoring on their home debuts in the 4-3 defeat to Southport.
That loss stunned Steve Burr's side as they went down to opposition still finding their feet in the Blue Square Premier after promotion, a feeling of shock Mansfield will be all too familiar with after their midweek exploits.
The Stags went to Fleetwood – who came up with Southport from the Blue Square North last season – and left on the wrong end of a 3-0 drubbing, leaving them alongside Harriers with a win and a loss from their first two games.
The manner of Fleetwood's win left many aghast – but not Burr.
He said: “It was no surprise to me, because Fleetwood are in a very strong position financially and have been able to attract some good players.
“You would expect Mansfield to be up there as well, they had a reasonable season last year and will be looking to kick on.
“But if we play like we did against York, there's no reason why we can't get the win.”
Read more: http://www.expressandstar.com/sport/2010/08/20/harriers-sweating-on-injured-duo/?#ixzz0xAsxpM00