Holdsworth considers changes for Southport trip
CHAD.co.uk, 09 September 2010
By John Lomas
STAGS boss David Holdsworth says he may freshen the side up with some changes as they prepare for one of their toughest games so far this season as Stags look for a third successive away win when they travel to Southport on Saturday.
The Sandgrounders lost 1-0 at Gateshead on Tuesday night to a last minute goal which was the first goal their miserly defence had conceded in five games.
Holdsworth has made few changes in the seven games to date but said: "I have players fresh and ready to come in and may changes things round a bit on Saturday.
"Games have come thick and fast and one or two may benefit from a rest at the weekend.
"I have rested one or two from training this week to help them get rid of niggles and, with Paul Stonehouse back in training today, we should have clean bill of health for Saturday."
Stags know exactly what to expect at Haigh Avenue as they bid to bounce back from Saturday's disappointing 1-0 home defeat by Tamworth.
"I have been there on various scouting missions and know they have a good set-up," said Holdsworth.
"They are a progressive club, having just gained promotion, with a young young manager and a squad of players that likes winning.
"Hopefully it will be a good atmosphere which is what players enjoy playing in. There is nothing worse than when you can hear a pin drop.
"They will set up to be hard to beat and they have a long throw so we must be aware of that.
"I didn't feel we played that badly against Tamworth last weekend but we can do more with the ball and I want my players to express themselves at all times."
Stags' centre half Chris Smith said: "I have played up there a few times with Tamworth and, although they only get about 1,400, it sounds like a lot more than that.
"The year we went up at Tamworth, we won 1-0 up there.
"Southport have had a good start, having just come up, and are quite direct from what a friend of mine at Kidderminster told me after they recently played them and lost 4-3.
"They have long throws and play for corners and other set pieces. But they have good footballers there too.
"It is a nice pitch, a nice stadium and a nice flat pitch you can pass the ball on.
"We just have to be on our guard.
"When Tamworth came up everyone underestimated us and we got a lot of early points on the board which kept us up in the end. Southport are doing the same. So we won't underestimate them.
"We need to play our own game and let them worry about us."
Southport boss Liam Watson will be hoping that striker Matty McNeil will be fit to return after being out with a stomach strain.
Defender Chris Lever (shoulder) is also expected to be added to the squad but forward Tony Gray(shoulder) remains on the injury list.
The last season the club's met was 1974-75 when Mansfield away was the Port's first away match of the season on 17th August 1974 when Mansfield, in front of 3,109 supporters won 2-1.
Southport drew 1-1 against Mansfield at Haig Avenue on 18th March 1975 before 2,004 fans.
Smith: Stags will not underestimate new boys
Evening Post, 10 Sep 2010
THEY may have raised a few eyebrows in some quarters, but Mansfield Town defender Chris Smith is not in the least bit shocked by Southport's solid start to life in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Liam Watson's part-timers were one of the favourites to make an immediate return to the Blue Square Bet North Division they won last season.
Unlike fellow north-westerners Fleetwood, who joined them in winning promotion, Southport have not had big financial backing to help consolidate their newly-won status.
As a result they had been forced to stay part-time, but have nevertheless defied the critics to sit eighth in the table after seven games with 11 points.
That form, though, has come as no surprise to Smith, who enjoyed a similarly bright start 12 months ago.
"I half-expected the new sides to come up and do well – because that happened when I was at Tamworth last season," he said.
"It can be a case of teams underestimating you because you have come up from a lower division.
"At Tamworth, we got a good start and in the end that was probably the reason we stayed up because we had a smaller squad, got injuries and eventually struggled to pick up points.
"It looks like the same has happened with Southport and Fleetwood as happened at Tamworth.
"I know I won't be underestimating Southport and I'm sure the gaffer won't either. They have been at this level before, so know what it is like.
"They are a good side who will be high in confidence after last year.
"The two times they have come up before I think they have gone straight back down so I'm sure they will be determined to buck that trend."
Both sides have been frugal at the back in recent games, with Mansfield having conceded only three in their last five games.
Southport have been even more thrifty, with Gateshead's injury time winner on Tuesday the only goal they have let in over the same period.
On the Stags' improved defending, Smith said: "Before the Fleetwood game, I said we were starting to get more organised – then we lost 3-0!
"But I think that has been our main strength since then. We've been tighter and harder to break down.
"Defenders maybe get the credit for the clean sheets, but the gaffer gets us to defend from the front as a team."
Smith feels Mansfield could have the edge at Haig Avenue because of their potency on the counter that has brought 3-1 and 4-0 wins at Kidderminster and Altrincham.
He said: "Maybe we are better suited to playing away from home. Everyone looks at us as a big club so when they come to our place they often set up with men behind the ball.
"When we go away, there is more pressure on the teams we are playing to push forward to try to score.
"If we can soak up that pressure, we have the ability to break with pace and nick goals at the other end.
"The good thing is, the midfielders can pass the ball well, which can help us quickly turn defence into attack."
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