video interviews with Todd, Meikle and Cox --->
Briscoe back for Southport clash
chad.co.uk, Thursday 13 October 2011
STAGS wing ace Louis Briscoe returns to the fold after completing his three-game ban to fight for a place against visiting Southport on Saturday (3pm).
“It is good to have Louis available again,” said boss Paul Cox. “He definitely comes straight back into the squad, but I am not sure if he will start yet.
“I am looking at one or two different formations and systems. I will have a look at his sharpness in training over the next day or two but he did look fit and sharp in the reserve game on Monday.
Adam Murray and Jon Worthington were having treatment for ankle injuries and Matt Green was off ill at the start of the week, but all are now back in training and expected to be available on Saturday.
Despite only being reproved from relegation in the summer when Rushden & Diamonds imploded, Southport have made the most with a run of one loss in nine and four successive away wins lifting them to a point behind Mansfield.
“They are on an excellent run of form and are probably top of the form table,” said boss Paul Cox. “So we know it will be a really tough game and very physical as they are a big, strong side. I can see there being some fireworks. It is another hurdle we have to get over as a club.
“Other results went well for us on Tuesday night so we have got to make home form count and the extra game we have in hand tell.”
Southport have two players out suspended. Midfielder and captain Alan Moogan has a one match ban after picking up his fifth booking of the season and will probably be replaced by Kevin Lee, who returns to the squad having served a similar ban.
Also, boss Liam Watson has decided against lodging an appeal over a red card shown to James Smith midweek and the full back now misses three games.
Defender Chris Lever returned tin midweek, having recovered from a hamstring injury and is expected to start in the same back four that finished the 1-1 draw with York
Briscoe knows he has no excuses
Nottingham Post, Friday, October 14, 2011
PETULANT, silly, unprofessional; call it what you will. Louis Briscoe has heard all the descriptions of his sending off against Kidderminster Harriers and agrees with them all.
Mansfield Town's flying right-winger was the club's player of the year last season and quite rightly so after 19 goals and a string of influential performances.
His excellent form has continued into this season with four more goals, including a brace in the 5-0 crushing of Newport County.
Briscoe contributed to a run of eight games without defeat for Paul Cox's side that at one point saw them win five games on the bounce for the first time since the Stags' promotion season of 1991-92.
But football has a habit of biting you on the backside when life could seemingly not get much better – just ask Wayne Rooney.
The England man will have to wait until next summer to serve his punishment for his red card in Montenegro.
Briscoe, on the other hand, has now sat out his three-game ban and is ready to return with fresh purpose and a determination to make up for a frustrating spell that was entirely of his own making after sliding recklessly into a tackle with Harriers' Lee Vaughan in a 3-0 Field Mill defeat three weeks ago.
"It's been rubbish really and in some ways it's worse than being injured – because you know it is your own fault and you have to live with it," said Briscoe.
"The way I saw it, it was 50-50 and whoever got there first with the way we went in was going to get sent off. He went in high, too.
"I got straight up and he stayed down. I think it was a red card following the letter of the law.
"I probably got away with a couple of similar tackles last year.
"With how refereeing is going, I probably do have to look at the way I tackle. They are not letting anything go.
"I still have to look after myself and get stuck in but not do anything stupid.
"But it is my first sending off at Mansfield and I haven't had too many yellow cards, so hopefully it was a one-off."
Briscoe has been a regular starter under Duncan Russell and Cox, but knows he may not get straight back into the side against Southport tomorrow.
Mansfield welcome the Sandgrounders having stayed unbeaten in the former Ilkeston man's absence.
He said: "You can't expect to get straight back into a team that has just taken seven points from nine games no matter who you are.
"I suppose the one positive is that I have had a bit of a rest, which you don't always get in a 46-game season – and in that time the lads have been getting results and not really missed me.
"The win at Wrexham, in particular, opened a few people's eyes. It showed a bit of character; that we have got bottle."
The 23-year-old at least got some action under his belt in a 1-1 friendly draw for the Stags at Solihull Moors on Monday night.
"It was pleasing just to get out there again for a competitive game – and it was competitive, with the tackles going in," said Briscoe.
"You do your best in training to keep your levels up, but it's difficult when you know you haven't got a game at the weekend.
"I know the gaffer was there at Solihull and I had to try to prove my worth. Hopefully I have given him a selection headache."
Mansfield have just three more points than after 14 games last season, despite losing only twice.
Even so, Briscoe is convinced this is the best shot he has had at promotion since joining the club in the early 2009.
He said: "I think the squad has gelled a little bit better, even though there was another massive turnaround of players in the summer.
"The methods the management have brought in have been first-class and the players have responded. The structure has been better, which is a big factor.
"We are in a similar position to this time last year but I think this time we have the mentality to go on.
"In between the wins we have mostly been getting draws rather than defeats. This time last year we had lost something like five games.
"If we can carry that on then there is no reason why we can't finish in the play-offs or even higher.
"Last season we always seemed to lose to teams above us. Every time we got any momentum going, we seemed to lose.
"This season we have already beaten Wrexham and should have probably beaten Luton as well."
With results going in Mansfield's favour in midweek, staying sixth despite not playing, Briscoe wants nothing less than three points against Southport.
"With Rushden not going through until later in the summer, Southport have done very well. They would have probably thought they would be operating on a smaller budget," said Briscoe.
"But if we want to get in the play-offs, then we have to be beating these teams week in, week out."
Day impressed by Stags' greater belief
Nottingham Post, Friday, October 14, 2011
RHYS Day insists the biggest change in the Mansfield Town squad this season is a greater belief and sense of responsibility.
The central defender, who is nearing full fitness after knee surgery and played 90 minutes in a friendly against Solihull on Monday, is one of the few players still at the club from last season.
Having seen both teams in action, he is convinced the current players have more confidence in their ability to string results together – and more likely to take the blame when things go wrong.
That, he says, has been a mindset injected into them by boss Paul Cox, who took over in the summer.
"What the new manager has brought in and instilled is a belief from the lads that they can go out and win every game," said Day.
"It was a good example at Forest Green when we went down to ten men yet still went for the three points and could have got them.
"There is a belief now that we can do something. Part of that comes from the manager giving the lads licence to police themselves.
"If any of the lads are late or anything like that then we sort it out ourselves.
"It gives us that responsibility which you take on the pitch when Saturday comes around and that all helps."
Day was part of Aldershot and Oxford sides promoted out of the Blue Square Bet Premier into the Football League.
He feels the current personnel at Field Mill have similar characteristics to the Us.
Day said: "We are like Oxford with more experience. We're hard-working and defensively tighter."
O'Neill comfortable in Stags set piece role
Nottingham Post, Saturday, October 15, 2011
LUKE O'Neill is reveling in his position as Mansfield Town's set-piece taker.
The former Leicester youngster has been asked to take on the job when Joe Kendrick is absent from the side.
O'Neill had impressed manager Paul Cox in training with the quality of his delivery from dead-ball situations.
And O'Neill did not let his boss down against Grimsby last weekend by scoring with a 30-yard screamer before swinging over the corner from which Paul Connor netted the winner.
He will be hoping for more success when Mansfield host Southport today.
"It's always nice to get a goal for the team and I'm pleased if I can get assists to," he said.
"I went close in the first half against Grimsby when I hit the bar and when I scored in the second I saw the keeper had gone quite a long way across his goal, so I thought it was worth having a go.
"If the gaffer wants me to keep on taking the free-kicks and corners then I'm more than happy to do so.
"It's good that he has got the confidence in me."
O'Neill has been asked to play at left-back in recent games after starting all his early season games at right-back.
He said: "I'm willing to play anywhere along the back four. I don't mind it on either side.
"I've played at left-back before for Leicester, so it is a position I am used to, it's not completely new."
Stags' Meikle taking division jump in his stride
Nottingham Post, Saturday, October 15, 2011
IT may only be one division, but Lindon Meikle has noticed a big difference between life in the Blue Square Bet Premier with Mansfield Town and the Blue Square Bet North with Eastwood.
The most obvious change since moving to Field Mill has been the switch from being part-time and semi-pro to full-time and professional.
But there have been plenty of other things for winger Meikle to adjust to as well.
He's been used to playing on front of a few hundred spectators and now it can be a more nerve-racking few thousand.
And he's used to being one of the team's star performer where as now he is just one of a talented crop.
Other things, though, are altogether more favourable as he looks to better his career.
Now he gets to train almost every day, enabling him to be in tip-top shape mentally and physically for each game.
And, of course, instead of going to work after a long Tuesday night away trip, he frequently gets the chance to relax with a day off.
But, as Mansfield prepare to host Southport this afternoon, Meikle has been happy to take it all in his stride – particularly that he is not going to be the first name on the team-sheet.
"I knew it would be a challenge and different to what was the case before," said the former Vernon Colts player.
"I didn't come here expecting to start every game – I expected to be on the bench at the start of the season.
"It's only in the last two seasons that I have been a regular at Eastwood. Before that I was in and out and a lot of people said I was a super-sub!
"Sometimes you can be left out of the side even if you are doing well and you have to understand it is for a reason.
"There might be times when it is done for a tactical reason or because you need a rest.
"Some players might get angry, but I don't mind as long as I know why in case there is anything I need to work on."
Meikle has found the more complete planning for each match at Mansfield fascinating.
That is helped by regular reports handed to boss Paul Cox by chief scout Paul Ogden.
Meikle said: "We do a lot of work on team shape on Fridays which is something I have never really done before.
"Training previously was turning up on Thursday evenings and having a kick-about really.
"Now we work on specific things and there are things I have to remember.
"I go home on Friday thinking about it and it is a bit like having homework! I never really had to think about my position before, but we are being told for a reason.
"If you make a mistake than it can expose those playing around you, so it's important."
Meikle has noticed a distinct step up in standard that the likes of Alfreton and Ebbsfleet have so far found hard to make this season.
"The way games are played is different from at Eastwood," he said. "Teams will work you hard all over the pitch to get the ball back.
"When they get it, they don't give it up very easily either, you might not see it for a while, so it's in your best interests to keep possession.
"Teams are a bit more ruthless too. You can be on the attack in their box and all of a sudden they are upfield and have the ball in your net."
But Meikle has been thankful that there has been plenty of old heads in the Mansfield squad to give him a helping hand in his new surroundings.
He said: "There are some really experienced players who have played at a high level and know the game inside out.
"I have learned such a lot from them and I'm sure I will continue to."
One of those who have been there and got the T-shirt is Andy Todd, a former winner of the Stags' current division with Accrington.
The player-coach was drafted back into the side for the trip to Wrexham and has started the last three games in which Mansfield have remained unbeaten.
He believes Mansfield's squad is well placed to challenge.
"We have definitely got the credentials to get in the play-offs, we just have to keep things going," said Todd.
"But that is the hardest thing. It's all about the way the players look after themselves not just on but off the pitch.
"And as the manager talks about, it is a mindset.
"When we were at Accrington we were good at picking up points against sides at the bottom home and away.
"It is easy to get yourself up for big games, but it can be how you motivate yourself for other games that matters."
Todd is wary of Southport's threat, a team who have won their last four away games.
He said: "It is not as if they have scraped 1-0 victories. They have scored three goals in their last two away matches.
"But after other teams dropped points in midweek, if we can get the three points it will put us in a good position."
Latest | October 2011