HALL, COLLETT, SANDWITH, LIVERMORE REACTION
HALL, COLLETT, SANDWITH VIDEO INTERVIEW --->
PATIENT Stags left it late to snatch a 1-0 victory over struggling Histon on Saturday with Paul Connor breaking through with a 92nd minute winner.
It wasn't the best of displays in a dour game but Connor's 13th goal of the season did the trick and assistant boss Paul Hall said: “We said to the boys that a football match is won over 90 or 92 minutes and that proved to be the case today.
“We were lacking that bit of a spark today, though Ashley Cain did provide it for a short time with his crosses. But the spark came late through Paul Connor and it was enough for three points.
“Paul is a very good player and valuable to us. I know there has been interest in him but I think it's good when there is interest in your players as it means you must be doing something right. We certainly want to keep him here.
“It was hard today. When a team comes here and plays 10 men behind the ball it is difficult. No matter what the quality of the opposition you still have to knock them down.
“It was our first clean sheet for a long time which shows how hard the boys are working. From shipping fives and sevens we are improving every week. We let in two last week and now we have the clean sheet we wanted.
“Back to back wins have been a problem for us of late so that was important too. Now we must build on that.”
He added: “I think everyone in the ground thought Keigan would shoot with the keeper at his mercy with that early chance. For whatever reason he made the decision he did.
“A more confident Keigan would have slid the ball home. But, even when he isn't scoring you know he will always work hard and run through brick walls for you.”
Stags kept faith with reserve keeper Neil Collett, giving him his full league debut, and he responded with a clean sheet, doing what little he had to do very well.
“I was very pleased with that after the gaffer had kept faith in me,” he said.
“I didn't really expect it though I hoped I would keep my place after waiting patiently for about a year.
“I don't think I have done myself any harm today and was pleased with my overall game.
“It was about 35 minutes in before I had to come for a cross and only had one real save to make which was a low shot that was always going away from me, so it was nice to get a hand on it.
“I believe I could keep the shirt. Why not? I am a quietly confident young lad. Keepers' careers don't take off until they are 23/24 and I am only 21 so time is on my side.
“I hope I can keep my place for next week and help move us up the table.”
Stutes manager David Livermore said: “I am very disappointed not to get something out of the game after the work rate and effort we put in.
“But the stats showed we did not threaten the opposing goal enough and we let them get in too many crosses.
“When you have to defend that many crosses the pressure builds and that's when mistakes creep in which is what happened right at the end when Mansfield scored from a set piece.
“As a player you must always make sure you stick with your player.
“It is tough for us right now. We are losing games in which we haven't played too bad which, apart from two or three games, has been the story of our season. It is a recurring theme.”
Hall hoping Stags can go on a run of wins
ASSISTANT boss Paul Hall is hoping Mansfield Town can put together a consistent run of form after recording back-to-back home wins for the first time since September.
The Stags were 1-0 winners over Histon yesterday with a late strike from Paul Connor, which followed their 4-2 FA Trophy win over Newport County the previous weekend.
Hall is urging the Stags to now go on and post positive results in tricky games at Darlington on Tuesday night and at home to Wrexham next weekend.
"Getting back to back wins has been problematic for us, no doubt about it," he said.
"Getting those two wins is like a run for us considering what has gone before, but it's a case of building on that now."
Connor's goal was his 13th of the season, but Hall wants to see other players chipping in to help out the striker.
He said: "We want to see other players getting on the scoresheet. Adam Murray has got a few from midfield in recent games and we hope that continues.
"Louis Briscoe, Adam Smith and Ashley Cain are other lads who can score goals as well to help us out."
Hall praises Stags' never-say-die attitude after late Histon win
PAUL Hall saluted Mansfield Town's players for their never-say-die attitude in grinding out a 1-0 win over Histon.
The Stags looked as if they would be held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by the Blue Square Bet Premier's bottom side.
But in the second minute of added time, Paul Connor nodded home his 13th goal of the season from substitute Kyle Nix's corner.
Assistant manager Hall felt that was just reward for the Stags never losing their belief.
"To start off, we were lacking the spark that we had in our last game (against Newport)," he said.
"But we told the boys that it takes 90 minutes or more to win a game and we showed that against Histon by going about our business until the 94th or 95th minute.
"We were playing a team who put ten men behind the ball and it's difficult to find a spark.
"Ashley Cain looked like he would be it in the first half, but it didn't last.
"It took that one spark to win the game and we had to wait until the end to find it, but we did through Conns (Connor).
"It was vital to get that win because we have got a few difficult games coming up.
"Anyone who came here will have seen that Mansfield should have won by more given the quality of the opposition, but you still have to take them down.
"It doesn't matter how many goals you score in the end, you can still only get three points."
Hall paid tribute to the continuing excellence of match-winner Connor and reiterated the desire to keep him at Field Mill.
He said: "He's a very, very good player and valuable to us. His goal was probably the first ball into the box that we really attacked.
"Conns is one of those people who scores goals, which means he's going to be someone who other clubs are after.
"When that happens, you must be doing something right, but he's one of those people we don't want to see going."
Mansfield's first clean sheet in ten league games also came as a big relief after shipping seven at Grimsby and five at home to Fleetwood.
"We have to address the goals against record and that is something to build on," he said.
"I think the clean sheet goes to show how hard we are working on it in training.
"To go from letting in sevens and fives to none is a dramatic change. We are improving, but we still want to be stingier."
Sandwith delighted to keep a rare clean sheet
KEVIN Sandwith was delighted to help Mansfield Town clinch a much-needed home league victory – and a rare clean sheet.
The experienced defender has played almost the entire season at left-back, keeping Paul Stonehouse out of the team.
But injuries to the likes of Rhys Day and Tom Naylor saw Sandwith asked to play in the middle alongside Steve Foster.
And after helping the Stags to an FA Trophy win over Newport County, he retained his place in the centre to assist Mansfield to their first clean sheet in ten league games.
"It has been a while to get a clean sheet. It is always disappointing as a defender if you don't get one, but we have been working hard to turn things around at the back," said Sandwith.
"We have conceded quite a lot of goals from set pieces and they had a few half-decent sized lads, but I think we dealt with them pretty well.
"I enjoy playing in the middle of the defence. I have played there a few games here and there last season. I have never heard a run there, but I am happy enough to play there every week."
Sandwith felt Mansfield had learned from their disappointing defeat to another struggling side in Altrincham earlier in the month.
He said: "Altrincham was a massively disappointing game for us, to not score and not even get a point.
"It was hard graft playing a Histon side who had a young side who worked very hard. We knew they would come and have a lot of enthusiasm and make it hard for us.
"But we kept plugging away right until the end and we managed to grind out the three points. We had a few chances in the first half, but missed them, and had we scored it would have made it a whole lot easier.
"Paul Connor has been brilliant for us all season. He's always a threat and he showed that with his finish."
Collett surprised he kept his place in Stags side
NEIL Collett admitted it was a surprise for him to retain his place in the Mansfield Town side as he made his first league start for the club against Histon.
The young goalkeeper has played both of the Stags' FA Trophy matches when Kevin Pilkington has been unavailable because parent side Luton Town do not want him cup tied.
The second of those games saw Collett impress in a 4-2 win over Newport County.
And the former Coventry City trainee was named in an unchanged side that recorded a 1-0 win over Histon at the weekend.
"It is a massive confidence boost to stay in the side. I'm a confident lad anyway, but to get the nod when Kevin was available was great," said Collett.
"To get the call on the morning of the game was a bit of a shock, because I didn't expect it.
"I thought Kevin would be playing because he is such a good keeper and has a lot of experience.
"But I felt I did myself justice in the game against Newport and thankfully that was enough for me to stay in the side.
"Hopefully I can keep my place for a while now."
Collett had little to do for much of the game as he kept his second clean sheets in three starts following his shut-out in the 5-0 FA Trophy first round win over Worksop.
He said: "It was pretty cold out there, but I would rather have that than have a lot to do. It was a frustrating game for us. They have come here to do what they did, but we kept our patience and belief and got there in the end.
"We said it would come if we kept going. Adam Murray even said at half-time that it may come in the last minute – and he was right!
"I can understand why the fans were getting frustrated, but there was no-one more frustrated than us. You do start to wonder if it is going to be one of those days."
Cut out the late KO blows: Livermore
by Marc Beyeler
David Livermore could not find fault with his players' attitude or workrate following Saturday's bitterly disappointing 1-0 defeat at Mansfield.
Histon were on the brink of earning a hard-fought but deserved Blue Square Bet Premier point when Stags' leading scorer Paul Connor headed home a stoppage-time winner from a corner.
Conceding late goals has become a regular occurrence for the Stutes, and with Barrow next up tomorrow, Livermore can only hope the team learn their lesson quickly.
"The attitude is spot on, we can't argue with that," he said. "But sometimes we're lacking a bit of quality and we have to learn to see games out. That's what is disappointing from the last two matches. We're taking teams to the last third of a game to be in with a chance of winning or taking points, but for some reason we can't hang on."
Livermore was pleased with how his team started Saturday's game, but admitted that Mansfield became increasingly dominant.
"We started well but allowed them to get a stranglehold on the game because we didn't defend throw-ins well enough," he said. "We allowed them to get balls to feet too easily and put crosses into our box. When you have to defend that amount of crosses the pressure can build and, as we saw for the corner and the goal, we weren't able to cope with that pressure."
Zac Attwood suffered what looked like a serious injury just after the hour and went to hospital for treatment after returning to Cambridge.
An X-Ray confirmed bruising to the leg and not a fracture as was initially feared, and while Livermore said it was hard to tell how long Attwood would be out, it was likely to be weeks, rather than months.
Latest | January 2011