RUSSELL AND BRISCOE REACTION
post match video interview with Duncan Russell
Russell frustrated as Stags again fail to hold on to lead
DUNCAN Russell was frustrated Mansfield Town could not hold out for victory for the second home game in a row as they were pegged back to draw 1-1 with Barrow at Field Mill last night.
The Stags were not at their best but still went in front not long after the hour when Louis Briscoe swept home his 18th goal of the season.
But they could not hold on – just as Southport came back to take a point from a 2-2 draw last week.
"I thought we should have come away with the points with the amount of chances we had in the second half," said Russell.
"Luke Medley had four or five and on another night we could have had four or five goals.
"We were totally dominating until they scored.
"But we do have to be mentally strong when things go against you and you have to weather the storm.
"When they scored we stopped doing the things we had been doing – and that's what infuriates me."
Russell felt David Grof might have been better positioned to keep out Danny Forrest's 25-yard equaliser.
He said: "The goal was just one of those that you see go in every now and then. It is not as if they cut us open with a passing move.
"The lad had every intention of putting it in as he looked up but you have to question our goalkeeper."
Briscoe: It's disappointing my goals aren't winning games
LOUIS Briscoe admits it is disappointing his goals are not winning games for Mansfield Town.
The club's top scorer was again on target for his 18th goal of a productive season against Barrow last night.
But he saw his effort cancelled out by Danny Forrest's fine volley 12 minutes from time.
"I think we were on top for the majority of the game, but then they made a couple of changes, which changed it for them," said Briscoe.
"When they got the goal we seemed to sit back and invite them on.
"Grofy made a few good saves for us at the end, so at least we were able to get something out of the game, rather than going home empty-handed."
"I thought we deserved our goal even though we hadn't created too many clear-cut chances.
"And when I scored I hoped it would be the winner and I'm disappointed not to have got the three points.
"No disrespect to Barrow, but we should be looking to beat teams below us at home. We should be looking to beat everyone at home.
"All the lads put a good shift in again, but it is just not going for us at the moment.
"But we have to try to build on it when we play Bath on Thursday. We just have to keep going and see what we can do in that game."
Was Grof to blame for Barrow wonder goal as Stags suffer again?
LUCKY goal or wonder finish, much of the post-match talk was about how Danny Forrest's late dipping 30-yard effort managed to beat David Grof to earn Barrow a 1-1 draw at Field Mill last night.
A review of the match DVD should tell boss Duncan Russell and the keeper how much blame the Notts County loanee should take.
But Grof and Stags know that only a series of fine saves from him denied the Cumbrians all three points in a fine fightback from behind that leaves Mansfield without in a win in three straight games with struggling sides.
“The lad intended it to be a shot,” said Russell. “You could see his intention when he looked up and saw the keeper off his line. There was no one else in there so it wasn't a cross.
“I am not sure how it beat 'Groffy' or whether he thought it was going to go over the bar. It was a freak goal and against the run of play. But it changed the game.
“I will speak to him about it and look at the DVD. I have got to question my goalkeeper's distances.
“They have not scored a goal in open play, passing round us like we were to them. Nine times out 10 the goalkeeper is in the right position and tips it over the bar.
“He is a typical foreign keeper who likes to play off the line – I have seen him reach the halfway line once!
“But towards the end he made some fine saves.”
Russell added: “It's no excuse but I spoke to them at the end and there were some tired legs out there.
“Before the goal went in we were totally in charge of the game. We made so many chances and could have scored four or five. So it's disheartening how we capitulated again.
“Why did we not continue doing the things we were doing? Why change something that's not broken?
“But when you are mentally tired and fatigued it does affect decision-making.
“I thought the front two did really well in the absence of Paul Connor. They moved their back line about and were really clever.”
Stags' nighmare run of four home games in eight days continues on Thursday with the visit of Bath and Russell added: “This is all going to take its toll and I need players to be honest with me.
“It's great some want to be lionhearts and go out there but if the energy levels are not there and the mind is willing but the body isn't, then they are no use to me.
“I will keep trying to rotate things.”
On Barrow's equaliser, Grof said: “To be honest it was a great finish.
“I am going to have a look at the DVD to see how far I was off my line, but he has shot from 25-30 yards so obviously I am not going to be standing on my line.
“But I am disappointed to get beaten from so far out.
“As soon as Barrow scored, they came at us and in the end we had to be happy with a point. Our concentration levels dropped and we have lost a lot of points because of that.”
Louis Briscoe, who bagged his 18th goal of the season, said: “We were disappointed not to get three points after dominating for so long, but there were a lot of tired legs out here near the end. We sat back and invited them on.
“My goal fell nicely to me on my lap which happens sometimes. That's how it goes. But we deserved it.
“They scored a freak goal that's done 'Groffy'. In the en he's saved us from not having any points at all.
“You can't put a finger on why we didn't win it. All the lads have put in a shift again but it's just not going for us at the moment.”
Stags boss Russell will never back away from a challenge
ONE thing that Duncan Russell insists he will never do is give up. He is a self-proclaimed fighter.
So while almost everyone who follows Mansfield Town is writing him off in terms of landing the manager's job beyond the May 7 FA Trophy final at Wembley, he has vowed to push his case until the very end.
As a man of army stock, there's little wonder that Russell knows no surrender; to do so would not have served him well then and he doesn't believe any different now he operates in the football world.
And with how things have panned out for him since he took over the reins as the Stags team manager in November, it is a good job he is thick-skinned.
There are those Mansfield followers who have always claimed they never wanted the former MK Dons, Macclesfield, Walsall, Wolves and Blackpool employee at the helm in the first place.
Despite his coaching experience at that raft of well-established Football League clubs, the fact he is not a 'name' such as a Dave Penney or a Martin Foyle, two other candidates at the time of his appointment, has always counted against him in some onlookers' eyes.
Others have reserved judgement, but have been irked by results such as the 7-2 battering at Grimsby, the 5-2 humbling at home to Fleetwood and, most recently, the 4-0 weekend thrashing by lowly Hayes and Yeading.
Of course, the opinion which matters most is the man with the responsibility of hiring or firing Mansfield managers, John Radford.
The chairman intimated earlier this week he is yet to decide on the long-term future of his current boss with, after Tuesday night's 1-1 draw with Barrow, six league games and the Wembley trip still to come.
That makes the next few weeks among the most vital of Russell's career if, as he would dearly love, he is to continue at the Field Mill helm.
"I am quite willing to put my head on the block and if it gets chopped, it gets chopped," said Russell.
"If I'm out of a job at the end of the season, I will shake hands with the chairman and wish the club well and I will have to go.
"I heard someone made a comment about giving up, but I never give up on anything and I don't want the players to do that.
"I want to be a successful manager and the only way to do that is by having people around me who want to fight.
"The results in these league games mean as much to me as going to Wembley."
Mansfield have struggled to find their best form since clinching their prestigious trip to London and many believe the players have been caught up in the hype.
But Russell is desperate for his troops to find some form before their big day so they go into the clash full of confidence.
Ideally, that would start with a victory in tonight's home clash with Bath City.
He said: "The players might have what I call Wembleyitis in their minds, but they have to get that out because it doesn't interest me.
"We have to go on a run so we are in the right frame of mind for that game. We need a winning culture.
"It would not be good going there having lost all our games. We have to have drive and enthusiasm to the very last game."
Although obviously disappointed not to clinch victory on Tuesday night, Russell was delighted to see the return of Ashley Cain.
The Barrow match was the right winger's first game back since he damaged his thigh in the FA Trophy semi-final second leg against Luton.
"We have missed Cainy massively and he's been biting at the bit to get back," said Russell.
"He was such a model pro through his injury and with an attitude like he showed, he has a chance of going places."
Grof wants Stags to finish the season with a flourish
DAVID Grof says Mansfield Town have to pull out all the stops to finish their season with a flourish.
The Stags' Blue Square Bet Premier campaign has fallen away amid the euphoria of reaching the FA Trophy final to play at Wembley for the first time in 24 years.
But goalkeeper Grof fears the club will not do themselves justice in that May 7 clash against Darlington, if they do not lift their game in the league games to come.
The Hungarian is also keen to give the Stags fans a lift – particularly in matches at Field Mill, where their home record is less than impressive.
Mansfield host Bath City tonight with entry on the gate cut to £5 for all.
"Since we have won our place at Wembley we have not been doing as well as expected," said Grof, who is ineligible to play at Wembley.
"I think we thought it would give us a buzz and, with everyone fighting for places, we would get good results. Unfortunately it hasn't worked out like that.
"But we do need some momentum for Wembley, so now is the time for us to push again.
"We don't want to be going to there having not been doing well and with confidence low.
"But if we can get on a decent run then the confidence will come back and it will put us in a good frame of mind.
"I feel sorry for the fans. We have to use the games we have left to put on a show for them because they deserve it."
Russell told the media after the Bath game that Grof had been to see him to apologise for the Barrow goal, and Russell said that he said to Grof just to learn from it and move on.
RICHIE Baker is pushing for a starting place as Barrow AFC aim to all-but secure their Blue Square Bet Premier future with victory at Newport County tomorrow (3pm kick-off).
Paul Smith (left) has been playing well in midfield for Barrow 1 of 3 Photos
The midfielder made a big impact when coming on as a substitute in Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Mansfield Town.
Baker, fellow midfielder Robin Hulbert and striker Andy Cook were all introduced from the bench as the Bluebirds came from a goal down at Field Mill.
With Paul Smith again impressive in midweek, James Owen or joint-boss Darren Sheridan could make way for Baker, while Hulbert, last season's player-of-the-year, is also itching to get a place back in Barrow's central midfield three. Cook, who was unlucky not to score a late winner against the Stags, is in contention with Barrovian Wayne Curtis for the lone striker's role.
Sheridan, who reported no fresh injuries, said: “The squad is strong, you could see that on Tuesday night when we brought lads on who were just as good as those who started.
“The three we brought on totally changed the game, and brought more life to it.
“Everyone is pushing for places, and that's great to have. It keeps everyone on their toes.
“Richie lost his place when he was suspended and now has to work to get it back.
Latest | April 2011