RUSSELL, BRISCOE AND BLAKEMORE REACTION
Blakemore hails his heroes after Scholars match Stags
By michael beardmore, sports editor
SCHOLARS boss Charlie Blakemore hailed his Chasetown heroes after they kept their Wembley dream going by holding Conference giants Mansfield.
Blakemore's men held the Stags to a 2-2 draw at Church Street on Tuesday night in their FA Trophy quarter-final after the tie, originally due to be played on Saturday, had been delayed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Chasetown – who grabbed a late equaliser through Richard Davies – will travel to Field Mill for the replay on Tuesday, and Blakemore wants a big Scholars contingent to cheer them on.
If they manage to upset a third Conference team in the competition – following victories against Kettering and Grimsby – the Scholars face a daunting semi-final against Luton Town.
Blakemore said: "It was a really spirited performance and I am so proud of how the lads reacted to going behind twice.
"They have a never-say-die attitude and don't know when they are beaten, and they just kept pressing.
"We pushed a lot of people forward and really peppered their goal for the last 10-15 minutes – and we got our just rewards.
"I thought we showed them too much respect in the first half but I got into the lads at half time and we were the better side in the second half – we thoroughly deserved the draw.
"Ryan Price proved again what a fantastic keeper he is with some great saves and Chris Slater was outstanding too.
"But it's not fair to put it down to just those two – everyone played their part and we are still in there fighting.
"It was an absolutely electric night and our supporters were fantastic – I just hope the neutrals who turned up will stay with us.
"We will need every last blue and white supporter next Tuesday at Mansfield – we are putting several coaches on, so people who want to come along should get in touch with the club (01543 682222).
"Hopefully we can take 500 fans up there and make it a great atmosphere like the last round at Eastleigh.
"Mansfield are a good side and they showed that but we have belief – we just have to raise our game and go again.
"Of course, they will have a massive advantage being at home but our lads know after Tuesday that we can match them.
"This Trophy run has been unbelievable. It seems to have lasted the whole season – we started in August and we're still going. The lads don't want to give it up."
Before the trip to Mansfield, the Scholars are away at Ossett Town in the Evo-Stik Premier on Saturday. John Branch could be back in contention after several weeks out with an ankle problem
Russell backs Stags goalkeeper after FA Trophy blunder
Duncan Russell hailed Chasetown goalkeeper Ryan Price's super show that helped earn the Scholars an FA Trophy replay folllwing last night's 2-2 draw with Stags in the West Midlands.
And the Stags boss said he is also hoping to welcome back number one keeper Alan Marriott at the weekend after five months of injury misery.
The cup clash turned into a tale of two keepers as Price made a string of saves to deny Mansfield a hatful of goals while Mansfield's on-loan keeper David Grof spilled a late corner into his own net to necessitate a replay.
“Their keeper pulled off so many saves that I don't think he'll have another game like that in his life,” said Russell.
“If he has another game like that in the replay I will go and sign him! He was outstanding.
“'Groffy' put his hands up in the dressing room. He dropped the ball out of his hands. But he had pulled off a lot of saves before that and done well for us.
“It was good to have Alan Marriott back on the bench for us tonight and we hope he will be fit for Saturday.
“He is a massive influence for us. I take nothing away from the lads who have been between he sticks for us in recent weeks, but Alan's experience counts for a lot.”
He added: “We should have won the game in the first half. But their keeper pulled off four or five really good saves and they are the sort of things that change a game.
“Going in 1-0 up I told them do not defend deep or lower what we were doing. I told them to keep turning them as their centre halves were slow and tired.
“But you always know a team will have a spell in the game, though Chasetown didn't have any in the first half. But their equaliser was so soft.
“We had played some lovely football in that first half and Louis Moult and Paul Connor had shown good movement and worked well together.
“We scored two great goals but, typically of us, we let in two sloppy ones as well.
“But we now know what Chasetown are about I am pretty sure we will seal a victory in the replay, though we have a job to do at Tamworth on Saturday first in what is a massive league match for us.”
Stags will replay next Tuesday, meaning a new date will be needed for the visit of Grimsby, leaving Stags playing almost every midweek until the end of the season.
“We didn't want a replay with the congestion we have already,” said Russell. “But there is nothing we can do about it. They are the cards we are dealt and you have to get on with it.
“We have a big enough squad and I will rotate it.”
Russell left to regret missed chances as Stags held by Chasetown
DUNCAN Russell was left to rue Mansfield Town's wastefulness in front of goal that ultimately prevented them from booking an FA Trophy semi-final place at the first attempt.
The Stags scored with two brilliant long-range strikes from Paul Connor and Louis Briscoe to twice lead their quarter-final at Chasetown.
But as the visitors failed to convert simpler openings and home goalkeeper Ryan Price excelled, the Scholars – part-timers and plying their trade two divisions below the Stags – hit back to level at 2-2.
"The game should have been won in the first half but I don't think their goalkeeper will have another game like that," said manager Russell.
"If he does play like that again then I think we will be trying to sign him. It seemed like they had three goalkeepers at times.
"We played some good stuff, especially in the first half. We had four or five clear chances but if you don't put them away, that changes games."
The two goals Mansfield conceded, both from crosses, angered Russell.
He said: "They were always going to have a spell and I thought we had weathered it. If they scored their goals from 'worldies' then I would accept it, but if we invite them on, as we did, then it upsets me.
"The boy (David Grof) has put his hands up for their goal at the end. He had it in his hands and dropped it
Briscoe is confident Stags can do the job at second time of asking
LOUIS Briscoe is confident Mansfield Town can finish the job at Field Mill – despite their late heartache at Chasetown.
The Stags looked to have won their FA Trophy quarter-final tie at the Scholars Ground as they led 2-1 going into the last minute thanks to a spectacular strike from the former Port Vale winger.
But an error from David Grof as he fumbled in Richard Davies' corner saw the Evo-Stik Premier Division earn a replay at Field Mill next Tuesday night.
Briscoe believes Mansfield will brush aside their disappointment to see off Charlie Blakemore's battlers at the second attempt.
"It was a blow that my goal didn't win the game. I would have felt the same way even if it has been a tap-in rather than a long-range goal," he said.
"Their goals might have been a little bit fortunate but they went in and that's all that matters. They count on the scoresheet.
"I can't remember them having too many shots on target and we had five or six good chances. We tried to play the ball when we could and perhaps sometimes over-played it.
"But I think their keeper kept them in it with some really good saves and we couldn't quite put them away.
"And they deserved credit because they kept going well and had a good spell in the second half and didn't tire, even though they are part-time.
"We are still upbeat and confident of going through to face Luton.
"Hopefully, the pitch will be a little bit better at home."
Mansfield defender Naylor urges keeper Grof to forget Chasetown nightmare
THE sinking feeling that hit the pit of David Grof's stomach in the dying stages of Mansfield Town's FA Cup quarter-final with Chasetown is one Tom Naylor knows only too well.
The Stags, marshaled by the teenage central defender, looked to be well in control as they led 2-1 at the Scholars Ground going into the dying embers of Tuesday night's game.
But with the visiting supporters looking at their watches, Richard Davies' left-wing corner was fumbled over his own goalline by goalkeeper Grof.
It was a moment to forget for the Hungarian, who has otherwise acquitted himself well since coming in for knee injury victim Neil Collett.
And it reminded Naylor of his own nightmare moment just a couple of weeks previously, when he gifted Newport a first-minute goal in the 3-3 draw at Field Mill after the ball had got stuck under his feet on a muddy surface.
The former Ashfield School pupil has subsequently recovered well from that error and hopes that team-mate Grof can do the same when Mansfield visit Tamworth in a league clash this afternoon.
"All you can do is put is straight out of your mind, which is what we have been telling Grofy this week," said Naylor.
"After I made my mistake in the first minute against Newport, I just told myself to forget about it.
"That's all you can do and you have to because in that game there was still another 90 minutes to play.
"I know exactly how Grofy feels because the one I made also resulted in a goal, but we all do it at some point or another.
"The only difference as a keeper is that if you make a mistake it is nearly always a goal, while in other positions you might get away with it.
"If he plays in the game today then he has to be confident and not let what happened at Chasetown worry him.
"He's come from Notts County and already shown he is a good quality keeper since coming in on loan."
A Stags fan growing up, Naylor almost had cause to celebrate on the pitch – rather than in the stands as he formerly did – when he went close to his first goal in amber and blue at Chasetown.
The youngster struck the crossbar from a firm header that would have given Mansfield an early lead.
He said: "I was close to my first goal – but I should have scored really rather than hitting the bar.
"It was a great cross by Cainy (Ashley Cain) and I made a move to the front post.
"But hopefully it won't be too long before I get off the mark if I keep playing."
After making just a solitary start under David Holdsworth this season – at Gateshead – Naylor has already played six times under Duncan Russell.
The defender is hoping he can now retain his place for the rest of the 2010-11 campaign.
"I'm pleased with the way it's gone since I got back in the team for the Alfreton FA Trophy replay," said Naylor.
"I did make that mistake against Newport, but apart from that I think I've been reasonably steady.
"It was tough up at Barrow, but I was pleased with how things went and there wasn't much you could have done about the two goals on Tuesday.
"One was a fluke that went straight in from a cross and the other from a mistake."
At the Lamb, Naylor will come across an old colleague who he knows very well.
He said: "I was always matched up against Kyle Perry in training last year, so I know he's a handful.
"He's a big guy, who is good in the air and doesn't give up easily.
"Since going to Tamworth last summer he's done quite well for them and scored a few goals.
"I gather he scored on Wednesday night (in Tamworth's 3-1 victory over Kettering) so he's going to be confident.
"It will be my job to try to stop him scoring this time and I'll be working hard to do that."
Although Mansfield have the potential of a two-legged FA Trophy semi-final against Luton in the pipeline if they beat Chasetown in Tuesday night's replay, Naylor insists the focus is firmly on picking up league points this weekend.
"Tamworth is a big game, almost a local derby with how far some of the other games are," he said.
"We need to get three points and get back up the table because we have slipped down to 14th and we shouldn't be there.
"With the games in hand we should be getting back in the top half and a win today would be the first step.
"After that we will look at Chasetown. We thought we were in the semi-finals, but now we just have to make sure we go and finish the job on Tuesday in front of our own fans."
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