HOLDSWORTH, GREGORY, ISTEAD, LIAM WATSON REACTION
audio interview with David Holdsworth --->
video interviews with David Holdsworth, Stevie Istead and Lee Gregory --->
Goal was dream come true for debutant Gregory
CHAD.co.uk, By John Lomas
STAGS striker Lee Gregory admitted it was a dream come true to score on his first team debut in the 2-1 success at Southport this afternoon.
"To score a goal in my first game was unbelievable," he said. "I was shocked to know I was starting the game yesterday with so many good strikers here.
"I have just been sat in the stands recently and there I was straight into the first XI. Since I was told yesterday I had been hoping I would score.
"But I didn't celebrate too much as Paul Connor did all the work and I wasn't even sure if it had already gone on when I got the touch on the line. I didn't think it was worth celebrating.
"I just hope I did enough now to be in the side next week. Patience has paid off for me and we will just have to see what happens next week now."
Fellow goalscorer Stevie Istead said: "We knew it would be different in the second half and they were going to come at us and give it everything with the big lad up front. But Alan Marriott made some good saves and the two centre halves stepped up to the plate with some really good defending.
"Sometimes you get into a groove in a game and don't want half-time to come. It was just what they needed and the game changed totally in the second half.
"It's always nice to score a goal like that and they don't come very often for me so I will savour it even more.
"Believe it or not I was a striker when I was a kid and used to score a few goals – maybe that's coming back?
"It was good to start the game. I haven't even been on the bench recently but I look after myself and am always ready if needed."
Gregory and Istead were two of four bold changes made by manager David Holdsworth, who also changed to a 4-3-3 line-up. And he admits he could have been under fire if it had all gone wrong.
"I was there to be shot at by people who thought I shouldn't have changed things," he said. "But I did it for a reason.
"These boys have trained hard and know I will be fair with them. It is part of man-management.
"I am very proud of my players tonight.
"Southport are a strong, physical side and they were always going to have a spell in which there could be telling moments.
"The game should have been over by half-time. We played extremely well in the first half. If we'd gone in three or four up it would have been justified.
"But that's football and the third goal just eluded us. In the end we had to do the other side of the game so there are a lot of positives today.
"We knew there would be a bit of a storm from them in the second half with their long throws and direct football. But we showed a lot of resolution and determination, which is a fantastic attribute to have."
He added: "We set up conducive to a big pitch, making it bigger when we had the ball and smaller when we didn't. They were tactics that worked.
"I am pleased for the owners as well as the fans who came here today.
It has been a tough week but the lads showed the character of men as it takes men to come and win here.
"Victories on the road are massively important and we opened up a very good side here that don't concede many goals.
Southport boss Liam Watson said: "We created more chances today than the rest of the season put together. Liam Blakeman has come in saying sorry, he should have had five!
"But you can't give anyone a two-goal lead. It's not as if they've cut us open – we gifted them two goals. Pathetic. We have hurt ourselves.
"I can't shout at them performance-wise, it was fairly decent. But our final decisions and finishing let us down. We have to take it on the chin."
Stags show their defensive qualities
DAVID Holdsworth believes Mansfield Town showed their capabilities in attack and defence in yesterday's 2-1 win at Southport.
The Stags demonstrated their attacking prowess to go 2-0 in front by the break as Steven Istead and Lee Gregory scored their first goals for the club, the latter on his competitive debut.
But they then had to show their defensive qualities as Steve Daly pulled a goal back for the Sandgrounders, who threw everything at their visitors in the closing stages.
"In the first half we were outstanding, scored twice and hit the crossbar twice," said Holdsworth.
"We are creating chances and several times we opened up a good side who don't give many goals away.
"The third goal that would have killed it never came, but I said to the boys at half-time that if we managed the minutes correctly we would win and we did that.
"When you come to Southport against a strong and physical side they are going to have a spell.
We showed a lot of resolution and determination, which is what you want to see.
"They were putting a lot of balls in from thrown ins and from direct play that we had to defend and I was very proud of the players."
Mansfield passed the ball well at times but also gave the ball away frustratingly for their supporters and the management at others.
Holdsworth insists that is inevitable at this level of football.
He said: "It is why I am getting grey hairs and feeling rather old. We were very good in parts but there were also times when we could have taken an extra pass.
"I have mentioned that afterwards, but I was not too critical because we went home very pleased.
"It's game eight and it's another victory. The way we set up was conducive to a big pitch.
"We made it big when we had the ball and smaller when we didn't. Our tactics were conducive and the players put it into practice.
"We should have had the game won by half time, but I wasn't nervous near the end."
Southport boss Liam Watson felt his side were unfortunate not to draw the match – or even win it.
He said: "We created more chances in that game than the rest of the season put together.
"Blakey (Liam Blakeman) came off saying sorry because he thought he could have had five. Their keeper also made a couple of great saves.
"We gave away two pathetic goals and you can't give away a two-goal lead to anyone as we handed it to them.
"The first goal has come from our possession and the second was a bad mistake.
"I actually thought it was a decent performance by us. We had so much ball in and around the box but the final decisions and finishing could have been better.
"I don't think anyone would have complained if we'd come away with three points on another day.
"If we create as many chances as that in future games I'm sure we will be fine."
Holdsworth puts off-field problems behind him with Stags victory
DAVID Holdsworth was delighted with the way his Mansfield Town players put the club's off-the field problems to one side in recording a third successive away victory at Southport.
It was announced on Thursday that the club's directors, Andrew Saunders, Steve Middleton and Steve Hymas, were putting the Stags up for sale.
Holdsworth admitted prior to the game that the uncertainty it created had made it difficult for his players to prepare for the match at Haig Avenue.
But they coped superbly to remain third in the Blue Square Bet Premier table with a 2-1 victory on Saturday to follow up away-day victories at Kidderminster (3-1) and Altrincham (4-0).
"Without going overboard, it's been a difficult week and we showed the characters of men," said Holdsworth. "It takes men to come here and win.
"I'm very satisfied for the owners because I know they were at the game and it will have given them a lot of satisfaction. I'm delighted for the fans who headed across the hills as well.
"That may have been a game we ended up drawing last season. Victories on the road are massively important.
"But I think the experience of Chris Smith and Fozzie (Steve Foster) and the determination they showed was very important and our second phase play was very good."
Holdsworth made four changes to his side but felt his decision to freshen things up was justified in the result.
He said: "I was there to be shot at and people would have questioned why I changed it, but I did it for a reason."
Gregory thrilled to mark his debut with a goal
LEE Gregory admitted his shock at being handed his first senior Mansfield Town start – but was thrilled to mark it with a goal.
The striker was employed as part of a front three along with top scorer Paul Connor and Luke Medley in the 2-1 win at Southport.
And, as well as producing an encouraging display, he was on hand to score with a predatory close-range strike that proved to be the winner.
"I felt it went quite well and to get a goal in my first game is great because to be honest I didn't think I would even be starting," said Gregory.
"When the gaffer told me on Friday I would be in the first team I couldn't believe it.
"I have been sitting in the stands and then suddenly I was in the 11, but hopefully I have done enough to get back in, especially with the goal.
"It is pretty much the way I might have dreamed it, to score on my debut. I was hoping I would score and I did.
"I thought all the team played well and we brought it together and got the win we wanted."
Gregory knows that he owed much to strike partner Connor for his flying start in front of goal.
The former Lincoln and Rochdale man got the better of central defender Adam Flynn before shooting for the far post where the youngster was able to strike.
He said: "Paul Connor did all the hard work for my goal and I thought it had already gone in – that's why I didn't celebrate too much.
"At first I had nerves, but once the game got under way I was all right because I knew I had good players behind me."
Istead happy to get off the mark for Stags
STEVEN Istead said his first goal for Mansfield Town reminded him of his youth in the north-east – when he was a free-scoring striker.
The midfielder – in his first start of the season – opened the scoring for the Stags at Southport with an opportunist strike.
It was vital as Lee Gregory added a second and Mansfield held on to win 2-1.
"When you score a goal like that it is nice and for me they don't come calling that often, so you have to savour it even more!
"I used to play centre forward as a kid and used to score a few goals, so maybe the finish was that coming back.
"Sometimes you just get into a groove and we were just getting into one as we came into half-time.
"You don't always want the break to come and their manager probably got into them at the interval and in the second half it changed."
Istead has seen his former club Ilkeston wound up and current side Mansfield put up for sale in the last week.
But he is proud of how the team put that concern to the back of their minds to come out on top at Haig Avenue.
He said: "It's a massive win for us. As a player you have to try to put the off the field stuff to the back of your mind, but we are only human and we do worry about it.
"But I think it pulled the squad together. There is a really good spirit anyway.
"I haven't talked about it with any of the other lads, only my girlfriend. But the gaffer encouraged us to forget about that and concentrate on the football."
Istead: Southport win a sign Stags can show greater consistency
STEVEN Istead hopes Mansfield Town's victory at Southport is a sign they can play with more consistency this season.
The Stags held on doggedly under intense pressure in the closing stages to earn a 2-1 victory at Haig Avenue.
It was their third win in a row on their travels following triumphs at Kidderminster and Altrincham – and also their fifth win from eight matches at the start of 2010-11.
Istead believes the resilient qualities the current squad have started to show bode well for the rest of the campaign.
"People will look at it and think we should win at Southport but you have to keep grinding it out away because I think we can be strong at Field Mill," said Istead.
"Last season we might have conceded late on and felt like we had lost in dropping two points when being 2-0 up.
"We knew in the second half they would come out and throw everything at us. (Matty) McNeil would not be out of place in a boxing ring and it was really hard work for Fozzie (Steve Foster) and Smudge (Chris Smith), but they really stepped up to the plate.
"But we defended well and we also had Mazza (Alan Marriott) who made some very good stops at important times.
"It is a game we would have struggled to win last year – our main problem was consistency. But we battled it out as well as playing our football."
Istead, who scored on Saturday, was making his first start of the season. He had previously only made one appearance off the bench – at Fleetwood.
He is hopeful he has convinced David Holdsworth he deserves another go at Newport this coming weekend.
"I would like to think I have done enough to keep my place but that's up to the gaffer," he said.
"I always give 100% and hope that is enough."
Latest | September 2010