Wembley dreams on hold as Stags face TV clash
chad.co.uk, Thu Feb 10 2011
MANSFIELD Town put their Wembley dreams to one side, after that superb 2-1 midweek FA Trophy replay win at neighbours Alfreton Town, to face Newport County in a live televised BSBP match at Field Mill on Saturday night (7.15pm).
Premium TV chose the game as they expected the Holdsworth twins to be in charge of the two clubs, but both have left since the game was announced.
Nevertheless, Stags have only lost once in six outings and boss Duncan Russell said: “Tuesday's win should be a massive boost for my team and spur them on for Saturday.
“They should take confidence from that second half and how the upped their performance 10-fold and proved a very difficult team to defend against. We need to do that again on Saturday.
“Hopefully the pitch will be better than it was last weekend but the rain is coming down again and we could be in for another tough day.”
He added: “Newport are a team we have beaten quite convincingly a few weeks back.
“They have lost their way a bit recently after losing their manager and also their main striker, Craig Reid as well as a few other players wanting to leave.
“It's an unsettling time as we know ourselves. But you have to be worried about a wounded animal as they are going to bounce back at some time and we must make sure it's not on Saturday.”
Paul Stonehouse and keeper Alan Marriott are the only two not joining in the training session at Derby County's training ground today.
Stonehouse could be back tomorrow, though, in a bid to force himself back into contention for a left back spot with Danny Spence and Kevin Sandwith, back from suspension, also in the frame.
Steve Foster is back after illness and will vye for a centre-back slot with Tom Naylor, Rhys Day and Sandwith.
Visiting Newport have won just once in 10 games, losing 4-3 in their FA Trophy tie at Field Mill last month, but are still three places and two points above Mansfield
Russ tips Connor to pass goal milestone
mansfieldtown.net Thu 10 Feb 2011
Manager Duncan Russell is fully expecting topscorer Paul Connor to significantly add to his impressive 15 goal haul before the end of the season.
The 12th Stag forward netted yet again in our midweek FA Trophy win at Alfreton to bring his tally to 11 goals in the league and four in cup competitions. The Gaffer paid tribute to the 32-year-old former Rochdale and Swansea striker's exploits whilst tipping him to reach the next milestone of 20 goals.
He said: "He's been excellent. Obviously the Blue Square Bet Premier does not recognise cup goals but I do. He has a great ability to be in the right place at the right time.
"I'm extremely pleased for Paul and pleased that we have got him for another year. At the end of the day that's why there was so much interest in him in January.
"He's got something that you cannot teach. He has the awareness to get into the right areas, make the right runs and has great timing which comes from having experience.
"I can see him getting 20 plus goals easily this season as long as we keep giving service to him which we certainly have the ability to do with Ashley Cain and Louis Briscoe on the wings."
'Russ' also heaped praise on 21-year-old non contract signing Dan Spence who made his debut in the unaccustomed position of left back at Alfreton and added: "I was more than happy with Dan Spence. He played at left back which is not his preferred position as he's an out and out right back but did very well.
"He got forward in the second half which I wanted him to as he is a very attack minded full back. It was also a particularly tough game to make his debut in with it being a Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire derby game."
On our opponents in Saturday evening's televised game, Newport County, Russ was confident of repeating the winning performance we put in against The Exiles at Field Mill when we met them last in the FA Trophy on January 15th.
He added: "When we played them last time, I thought we had too much for them and after losing their main goalscorer Craig Reid and manager Dean Holdsworth recently, they are having a bit of a waiver.
"It will be a tough game though as they will want to make amends for the last match but I'm optimistic that if we play anything like we did against Alfreton, we will get the three points."
Finally in team news, defender Kevin Sandwith returns from suspension and could feature as centre half Steve Foster continues to recover from a virus which kept him out of the side which won midweek at Alfreton.
Paul Stonehouse (calf) and Adam Smith (groin) will undergo late fitness tests whilst long-term absentee Alan Marriott has been permission to resume light training next week as the first step on his road to recovery from a groin problem
Carry on where you left off, Russell urges Stags ahead of Newport
Evening Post, 11 Feb 11
DUNCAN Russell wants Mansfield Town to start tomorrow's important league game with Newport County the way they finished their last match at Alfreton in midweek.
The Stags recovered from a poor first half against the Reds by overturning a 1-0 half-time deficit to win 2-1 and move through to the FA Trophy quarter-finals with an excellent second half showing.
Now manager Russell is urging his troops to pick up where they left off at the Impact Arena as Mansfield look to start a run that can see them challenge for a play-off spot.
"It should be a massive boost and should spur them on now against a Newport team we have already beaten quite convincingly (4-2 in the FA Trophy) a few weeks back," said Russell.
"We have to take confidence from the second half and how we upped it ten-fold against Alfreton. We need to see us doing that again tomorrow.
"Hopefully, the pitch won't be as bad as last week but with the rain again in the latter part of this week it could make it another tough day for us.
"How we beat Newport last time has to count for something – it shows on any given day we can go out and beat them.
"If we show the same determination as in the second half against Alfreton then we won't have any problems."
Russell has sympathy for the Exiles after the departure of top scorer Craig Reid to Stevenage and manager Dean Holdsworth to Aldershot has hampered their recent progress.
But he insists the Stags will not be charitable come the 7.15pm kick-off.
He said: "They've lost their manager and their top scorer and a few others players want to leave.
"It's an unsettling time and we have been through it here. But you have to be worried about a wounded animal because they are going to bounce back at some time.
"We just have to make sure that doesn't happen against us."
Keeper Collett is determined to give Stags a real lift
Evening Post, 11 Feb 11
LESS than a year ago, Neil Collett was working as a forklift truck driver, his hopes of making it as a professional footballer in tatters.
Demoralised and dispirited, the game the young goalkeeper had always loved had lost its shine and an altogether different career path beckoned.
Having been discarded by Championship side Coventry City and then non-league Nuneaton Town, Collett had to contemplate an alternative future and secured employment in a warehouse.
That could have been the end of his dream. The 21-year-old could still be earning his keep on the factory floor rather than the football pitch.
But what Collett did not realise is that he had made a good impression on a certain Mansfield Town manager, David Holdsworth. Out of the blue, he was suddenly handed a lifeline.
Needing a back-up keeper for Alan Marriott towards the end of last season, and having already trialed briefly with the club on a previous occasion, he was handed a trial by the Stags and subsequently signed on until the end of the season.
Collett knuckled down and worked hard to earn a new one-year contract in the summer, receiving praise for his willingness to learn.
This season was expected to be a continuation of that education under the experienced Marriott, who started the campaign as number one.
But a long-term injury to the former Lincoln man and then the unavailability of the on-loan Kevin Pilkington for FA Trophy, has suddenly thrust Collett into the first team.
Given what he has endured to get his longed-for opportunity, there is little wonder the West Midlander – he still lives in his native Coventry – is now determined to do all he can to stay resident between the posts.
"I wouldn't say I lost interest in football, but I had become disillusioned with it," said Collett.
"Going back to October 2009, I'd played a few games at Nuneaton. They promised me something, but it didn't materialise and I also found it hard making the adjustment to part-time.
"At that point I just wanted a break from football. I was having a few personal problems so I started working in a warehouse instead.
"That made me grow up a bit more. I had to live in the real world for four months and it makes you realise how lucky you are being involved in football.
"But David Holdsworth had my number from when I first came on trial and asked me if I'd like to come back for a few training sessions.
"A few months on and I'm in possession of the goalkeeper's shirt. It's been a tough road at times but I'm delighted to be where I am now."
Collett served two years as a trainee at Coventry City and did well enough to earn a one-year professional contract.
But his progress was hampered by the lack of a Sky Blues reserve side, meaning he had to continue playing for the U18 side.
On leaving, he was picked up by Nuneaton but did not enjoy a dressing room where he thought there were too many cliques.
Yet Collett has thrived at Field Mill where he has found the atmosphere to his liking.
And he has responded with some solid performances since retaining his place following the 4-2 FA Trophy win over Newport County.
Collett said: "I didn't really expect to play after Newport, but fair play to the gaffer for giving me a chance and keeping with it.
"The next game I kept a clean sheet and again the one after that. I don't think I have really done anything too wrong.
"I've just tried to be confident and command my area as well as communicate with the rest of the defence so that, hopefully, they believe in me.
"I'm quietly confident when I go out there. I think you have to be. It's not good in that position being a bag of nerves, as that transmits to the back four.
"I've had a few knocks in the past so you just have to focus to try to take your chance when you are playing.
"It's quite hard when you are thrown in there, especially for a goalkeeper but it has been a nice little run and hopefully I can keep it going now."
Ironically, tomorrow's opponents are once again Newport, with the game being screened live on Premier Sports at 7.15pm.
It was supposed to be the clash of the Holdsworth brothers, but neither are with the clubs they once managed.
Even so, Collett knows it is a crucial game in the context of Mansfield's season. He said: "We know what to expect from Newport having only played them a few weeks back.
"They have lost their top scorer Craig Reid but they have brought other lads in (Charlie Griffin and Yemi Odubade) so we can't take them lightly.
"We have to go in with the same attitude as we did before, because we really need to get three points.
"If we are going to have any chance of making the play-offs, then we don't have any more chances – the run has to start now."
Spotlight on Mansfield Town v Newport County
Evening Post, 11 Feb 11
Mansfield (from): Collett, Grof, Silk, Naylor, Day, Foster, Sandwith, Stonehouse, Spence, Cain, T. Thompson, Murray, Istead, Nix, Briscoe, Connor, Moult, Parker, Medley, Mitchley.
Newport (from): Garner, Bignot, Todd, Hatswell, Burns, Knights, Rose, Collins, Montgomery, Odubade, Griffin. Matthews, G. Thompson, Odhiambo, Morgan, McDonald, Miller.
Team news: Mansfield hope to welcome back Steve Foster (illness), while Kevin Sandwith will be back after serving a one-match suspension for his sending off in the 1-1 draw with Alfreton at Field Mill last weekend.
But Paul Stonehouse (thigh) is still a doubt after missing the midweek replay win over the Reds.
Dan Spence may continue to deputise or manager Duncan Russell could opt to bring back natural left-footer Sandwith.
Adam Smith (groin) and Alan Marriott (abductor) are expected to return to training at the start of next week.
Newport will be without suspended central defender Gary Warren.
They have lost top scorer Craig Reid for a six-figure fee to Stevenage but have secured strikers Charlie Griffin and Yemi Odubade on loan as part of the deal.
Left-back Michael Burns is a recent addition from Runcorn.
Manager: Tim Harris. County have yet to secure a win in 2011 – a run of seven games. The caretaker boss, who took over from Dean Holdsworth when he left for Aldershot, is under pressure to reverse that in order to keep the Welsh club in the play-off hunt.
Mansfield's Naylor out to succeed at club he supported as a boy
HE'S had to bide his time, but Tom Naylor is now living the dream at Mansfield Town.
As a former season ticket holder, the teenager stood on the Field Mill terraces, hoping one day he would be out there on the pitch himself.
A few years down the line, the Sutton-in-Ashfield youngster is doing just that, as an increasingly influential player for Stags.
It is almost two years since Naylor made his debut for the club at the tender age of 17, helping the team keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 home win over Altrincham.
Even so, the central defender, who manager Duncan Russell this week dubbed 'his Rio Ferdinand' because of his ability to play the ball out from the back, is still far from a first team regular.
After spending last season on loan at Belper and the early stages of this on loan at Blue Square Bet North neighbours Alfreton, Naylor has only managed six appearances for Mansfield so far this term.
That is something the now 19-year-old is out to put right during the rest of this season as he fights for his spot alongside more experienced campaigners Rhys Day, Steve Foster and Kevin Sandwith.
The first step will be to retain his place for this evening's game against Newport County, kicking-off at 7.15pm because it is being screened live on Premier Sports.
"It's great to be playing for my local team, a massive honour, because I used to come and watch," said Naylor. "I was a genuine fan.
"I always wanted to play for the club and now I get the chance. I want to be playing every Saturday now, there is nowhere else I want to be.
"I don't want to be out on loan any more, I feel like I'm good enough to play here and I just have to keep working hard to show that."
Encouragingly for Naylor, all of his first team involvement has come since Duncan Russell was appointed.
But with Kevin Sandwith sent off in the first of two FA Trophy ties with Alfreton last weekend, it looks likely Naylor will get another chance to prove his credentials after acquitting himself well in the 2-1 replay win over the Reds.
"The last time I was in the side I was only out injured for one week (after the 5-2 defeat by Fleetwood), but Kevin Sandwith came in and did well.
"But unfortunately he got sent off and now I'm back in – hopefully for a while."
Naylor was picked up by the Stags as a 15-year-old playing for Blidworth Welfare after he had previously played for local junior side Sutton Celtic.
He was originally a midfielder, but converted to a central defender by Stags youth coaches David Jervis and Ivan Hollett.
"I was in midfield in the youth team for most of my two years but towards the end of my second year I was put there in an emergency," said Naylor.
"I did well and have played there ever since. I didn't find it a problem moving back. It was not as if I was being converted from a winger.
"And the fact that I've played in midfield was a big advantage because I got used to passing the ball and I still try to do that now."
Naylor still has a year left to run on his contract after this season and is delighted he doesn't have to worry about his immediate future.
He said: "It's a relief knowing I will be here. If you are in the stands and your deal is up in the summer, then you wonder if you are going to be released.
"Hopefully I can play well enough to earn another contract."
Switch to left boosts Briscoe's goal target for Stags
LOUIS Briscoe believes his switch to the left of Mansfield Town's midfield has boosted his chances of reaching a double-figure goal tally for the first time in his career.
The winger has occupied a place on the right flank, his natural side, for much of the 2010-11 campaign.
But a groin injury to Adam Smith saw Briscoe moved across by boss Duncan Russell, with Ashley Cain drafted in to fill the gap.
That has largely been a successful policy, with both players supplying quality crosses into the box for the likes of top scorer Paul Connor.
Briscoe feels there has been an added bonus of topping up his goals account.
"Since I've been on the left, I've probably not had as much influence in matches, but I have been able to chip in with a couple of goals," said Briscoe, whose Stags side face Newport at Field Mill tonight (7.15pm).
"The good thing about playing on that side is that you can cut in and get strikes in on goal.
"I'm looking for double figures. I'm only three off now.
"I've only got four league goals but it's good that we've had a good run in the FA Trophy and goals in that have boosted my total."
Briscoe has been impressed with 19-year-old Tom Naylor when the central defender has played this season.
He said: "I enjoy playing with Tom because you know you are going to get the ball. Some defenders boot it straight into touch, but he is comfortable with the ball at his feet.
"It is probably a good thing for the club he got injured when he did with the transfer window being open."
Latest | February 2011