RUSSELL, MITCHLEY, ISTEAD, SAUNDERS REACTION
audio interviews with Duncan Russell and Dean Saunders
Russell impressed by Mitchley in Stags 1-1 draw at Wrexham
DUNCAN Russell was delighted with the contribution of full debutant Danny Mitchley in yesterday's 1-1 draw at Wrexham.
The striker – on a week-to-week deal – played his first 90 minutes after coming off the bench for his previous three appearances in Stags colours.
And though he failed to find the target, caretaker boss Russell was impressed with his efforts alongside goalscorer Paul Connor.
"Danny is one of those forwards who I like because he has got good movement," he said. "He can play on the shoulder and get in behind, he has good feet and balance.
"I don't think the conditions helped with his finishing but he got in the positions and I'm sure the goals will come.
"He also dropped back to make it difficult for their holding midfielder (Dean Keates) when we didn't have the ball and did it very well."
Russell felt the performance level of the Mansfield players was much-improved at Wrexham from their previous showing under him against Hayes and Yeading.
"You are expected to win at home in this league, especially when you are playing a team struggling at the bottom as Hayes were.
"But Wrexham are a team on form with some good players who can score goals and we more than matched them, even when it was 11 v 11."
It was like watching a match from the Sixties, says proud Russell
DUNCAN Russell strengthened his outside hopes of becoming the new permanent Stags manager with a superb point in Mansfield Town's 1-1 draw at snowbound Wrexham today.
That made it four points from six for the caretaker boss and ended a run of five straight defeats against the Welshmen.
However, the Dragons played the second half with 10 men after Andy Mangan's 45th minute dismissal for a two-footed tackle and Russell knows that, with the chances they had, his side could have won it.
“I am proud of them and frustrated at the same time,” he said. “With the chances we had we could have taken all three points.
“They may only have had 10 men but you still have to expose them and find slots to make chances.
“Danny Mitchley is a fine finisher and, on any other day, he could have had a hat-trick. And Simon Grand admitted he had a tap-in from three yards and completely mis-hit it.
“If you had said before the game we would take a point then we would have been very happy as they are one of the most in-form sides in the league right now. But, to be honest, we should have beaten them.”
A pinpoint Adam Murray pass unlocked the home defence to put Paul Connor on his way to a 10th goal of the season and Russell said: “It was a fantastic through ball, exquisite.
“I told them on that surface it was difficult for centre halves to react and Paul finished it well.
“Their equaliser came from a corner that was never a corner and when the referee sees it again I think he will think he made a blunder.
“I couldn't see the Mangan tackle as Paul Hall was in my sightline, but Adam Murray says he went in two-footed on Adam Smith and it was malicious. The referee was in a good position as well.”
He added: “We had a terrible start to the day as the coach was 35-40 minutes late picking us up due to the weather.
“So we had to cancel the hotel for the pre-match lunch and talk and we had to stop at a service station and let the players buy their own food. I don't want to know what they bought either!
“So it wasn't the best preparation but it was out of hands.
“It was like watching a match from the Sixties on that snowy pitch but I think the crowd enjoyed it. We conducted ourselves in a very professional manner. I thought we were the better side at 11 v 11.”
Russell knows favourite Dave Penney plus Martin Foyle and Jummy Quinn were among the crowd at the Racecourse Ground and said: “I may be out of work tomorrow, I don't know.
“I will just continue to do my best for this football club, the chairman, the chief executive, the players and the fans and keep being professional. I just wish we had a midweek game now.”
Stags caretaker boss Russell delighted with four points from two games
DUNCAN Russell has declared himself delighted with a haul of four points from his two games in caretaker charge of Mansfield Town – but knows it could have been a maximum six.
The Stags drew 1-1 at Wrexham on Saturday following on from their 3-2 victory over Hayes and Yeading when he first took the reins.
The Stags deserved their point against the ten-man Red Dragons as Paul Connor fired his tenth goal of the season.
But Russell felt the visitors could, maybe should, have gone on to win with their numerical advantage in the second half after Andy Mangan's dismissal.
"I'm very happy with the way the team played and if you'd said beforehand that we would have got a point I would have been pleased," said Russell.
"We didn't have the best of preparation with the coach being 35 to 40 minutes late because of the weather, yet we showed up well.
"I wanted to see us start the Wrexham game like we finished against Hayes and Yeading – and I felt we did that.
"Against a team in form we played well and showed a lot of cohesion. Even with them having ten men, you still have to expose that.
"Conditions did have an effect – it was like going back to the 1960s. Both sides have big, burly centre halves so they game could have deteriorated, but I think the crowd enjoyed it.
"The only shame was that we didn't win when we had the chances. On any other day Danny Mitchley could have had a hat-trick.
"It wasn't a corner, which led to their goal. I think when the referee sees it again he will see he has made a blunder."
Istead is full of beans
STEVEN Istead rushed down a plate of beans on toast in a motorway service station café – then helped Mansfield secure a 1-1 draw at Wrexham.
The Stags were unable to have a sit-down meal, as is the norm for away games, because the team were late arriving in north Wales.
"It was a strange day all round," said the ex-Hartlepool man. "I turned up at the ground and had to park my car in the Fitness First gym because the bus was sliding around on the road in the snow.
"It was there for a good 25 minutes, which made us late and that meant we had to stop off for our lunch. We just had to get what we could and I had beans on toast, and it wasn't very nice either!
"It wasn't the best all-round really and then we had to play on a difficult pitch, so we did really well to perform as we did."
Like the supporters, Istead is on tenterhooks to discover who will be his new permanent manager. In the meantime, he says the he and the rest of the team are focusing on keeping the Stags on the fringe of the play-off places.
Istead said: "It's not too bad being in between managers, because Russ has been with us all season and we know Hally (temporary assistant Paul Hall) from when he was here with the youth set-up at the start of the season.
"In the long-term it would be better for the club to appoint a manager sooner rather. But we are playing okay at the moment with four points out of six, which hopefully will be seven out of nine after the game with Barrow coming up.
"The lads certainly want to play for Russ and will give him 100 per cent, just as we will give any new manager, whether it be him or someone else."
Mitchley confident the goals will soon start to flow
DANNY Mitchley is remaining optimistic the goals will soon start to flow after coming so close to downing former club Wrexham.
The striker was on loan at the Racecourse Ground last season while he was still on the books of Blackpool.
He was handed his first Stags start, giving him the chance to put one over on his former team-mates.
But it was not to be as he missed one glorious second half opportunity he had set up with his own weaving run.
"It was a frustrating day for me because I had a few chances and I should have scored at least one of them," said Mitchley.
"I back myself as a decent finisher and nine times out of ten I think I would have scored the one I had in the second half.
"I always try to take my shots early and unfortunately it has gone just the wrong side of the post. Maybe I should have taken another touch.
"But I enjoyed playing up with Conns (Paul Connor) and I think we linked up quite well.
"He's a great finisher and you saw that with the way he took his goal.
"After starting hopefully I will get a few more games under my belt and get a few goals as well."
Mitchley echoed manager Duncan Russell's thoughts in being pleased with a point but disappointing the team didn't secure victory.
He said: "If you look at the form going in then you would have been happy with a point at Wrexham. They are a good team with a lot of experienced players.
"But we worked really hard and had the better chances in the end to win it."
Dean: Sending Off Has Killed Us
HAVING played a man short for the whole of the second half, a draw with Mansfield Town has to be looked on as a good result - but it's what might have been.
"The sending off right on half time has killed us. I didn't think it was a sending off, but I can see why the referee has done it," said Dean.
"We now lose him for three games, which is an even bigger blow.
"We found the conditions difficult to deal with, certainly for their big man it was awkward to turn and run.
"It was a bit of an ice rink at times and certainly didn't suit us, but we wanted to play the game. In hindsight, it didn't do us any favours.
"Their goal was a ball slipped between our centre backs, which we couldn't chase.
"Even Pogba, when he came on, was having difficulty standing up and the pitch did get worse as the game went on, with the temperature falling again.
"But the effort, determination and will to win, shown today was brilliant.
"I said at half time, that every time the ball goes out of play it is advantage us, as we can score from a set play and we were going to get a few chances.
"Equally, when the ball was in play, it was advantage to them and we had to defend for our lives to stop them from scoring.
"We got a get chance at the other end when Pogba was though, but I think the pitch has done him as the ball bounced badly on the ice. He has though come on and worked his socks off, so that is all to ask.
"Maxi was very clean with his handling today and caught a couple of crosses when we needed him to, while Marvin has defended well.
"Mind you, Frank Sinclair at left back, which was not easy as he hadn't played for a few weeks, he was getting two men running at him and he made three tackles on the trot when we needed him.
"That got the crowd off their seats and they were right behind the players, just when we needed them, which gave the lads a lift.
"Once we had equalised I was thinking we could go on and win it. But it was hard to play football, construct attacks, as people at the back were trying to clip balls into the front men and the passes were moving around on the surface.
"We couldn't really get our game going, but we did at least score from a set play, which I was pleased about. It was a good delivery from Jamie Tolley and we have so many good headers of the ball, Morrell knocked it on and Marvin was able to finish.
"At the end of the day, we haven't been beaten, we have moved up to sixth place in the league and we are right in there."
Wrexham FC defender finds conditions tricky
by Richard Williams
CENTRE-BACK Mark Creighton admitted the snowy conditions in Saturday's clash against Mansfield Town at The Racecourse made it the most difficult match he has ever played in.
Despite overnight sub-zero conditions and the pitch covered in snow, referee Dean Mohareb allowed the fixture between the two play-off chasing teams to go ahead following an inspection.
Wrexham came from behind to draw 1-1 and Creighton, on loan from Oxford United until January, revealed how tough it was for the players.
“I have played on a frozen pitch before but never anything like that,” said Creighton.
“It was very difficult, horrendous. There were patches of ice, patches of snow, patches of everything.
“And it made it doubly difficult having a man sent-off as well. It was hard for footing and hard to read the ball.
“Sometimes it was skidding off the surface, sometimes it was sticking in the fluffy patches of the snow. It was a hard day at the office today.
“It is difficult for a defender. People make mistakes and it showed there were quite a few mistakes.
“That is just down to the conditions, and you have got to be prepared to help your man out.”
Marvin Andrews' headed goal in the 37th minute put Wrexham back on level terms.
But with Wrexham on top, striker Andy Mangan was shown a straight red card for a two footed challenge in first half stoppage time, and Creighton acknowledged that was the turning point.
“Going into half-time I thought we were on top and causing them all sorts of problems,” he said.
“Obviously Andy getting sent off has killed us a bit.
“He knows he has let the lads down a little bit but he will bounce back from that. He will kick himself more than anyone else will kick him.
“We will have to do without him now for three games but that is why it is a squad game.”
Resolute defending by Wrexham ensured they did not concede after the break and Creighton was happy to take a point after being reduced to ten men.
“Every team has played against ten men before and it is always difficult,” said Creighton.
“We made it difficult for Mansfield. They couldn't break us down, they had to pump balls into the box and when they did that, nine times out of ten we headed it out so it was good it was good in that respect.
“I definitely think it was a good point.
“With the conditions and what happened just before half-time, I think we will definitely take that.
“You have to look at everything. Fans will be disappointed saying we should have won it but sometimes things happen in football and you have no control over them, sometimes you do.
“The weather has played its part today and the sending off as well.”
Wrexham climbed up to sixth place in the Conference table and are only outside the play-off positions by virtue of goal difference , and Creighton, who won promotion back to the Football League last season through the play-offs with Oxford, believes Wrexham are in an excellent position.
“As long as you are there or thereabouts, after Christmas you kick-on and go for it, and we have got a great chance,” he said.
“We are unbeaten in six games which is positive, we are picking up points.
“We can be confident that most teams in this league we will match, if not be better.”
With the cold snap set to continue this week, there will be question marks over Wrexham's clash against Crawley Town at The Racecourse going ahead on Saturday.
But Creighton won't let the weather take the focus off the job in hand.
“You have just got to take it one game at a time. If the game is on, its on, if it's off, it's off,” he added.
“There is nothing you can do about mother nature, no-one can ever beat mother nature.
“We have just got to prepare right and go again.”
Latest | November 2010